LUMBERTON — The excitement of rodeo-style barrel racing comes to the Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Center on Saturday when the Borderbelt Horseman’s Association sponsors an event that organizers say will be a “great time” for everyone.
‘We don’t know how many will be participating in the show because pre-registration isn’t required,” said Gerald Britt, president of the association. “But there will be four classes (of competition) and sometimes there are 100 horses in each class.”
The competition, which Britt said is sanctioned by the National Barrel Racing Association, begins at 3 p.m. and is expected to draw competitors from as far away as Wilson, Rockingham and South Carolina.
In barrel racing, a horse and rider attempt to complete a clover-leaf pattern around barrels in the fastest time. The event is a test of the horse’s athletic ability and the rider’s horsemanship skills.
The event is being held in the agricultural center’s new multi-purpose pavilion that opened in April.
Events like Saturday’s could give a needed lift to the Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Center, which has come under scrutiny by state lawmakers. The state General Assembly has ordered a study to determine if it is possible for the facility to operate while limiting state funding of the facility’s total budget to 50 percent. If the study determines that it isn’t possible, the center could closed or be turned over to a local government or private entity.
Britt said Thursday that stalls are needed at the pavilion to provide overnight shelter for horses. Stalls, he said, would draw competitors to Lumberton from a greater distance and make it possible for more than one-day equestrian events to be held.
“That’s what will make these events a real big success,” Britt said. “That’s when the state, motels, restaurants and everyone else will make money.”
The cost of about 100 stalls is estimated to be between $500,000 and $600,000. The city of Lumberton and the county Board of Commissioners have each pledged $50,000 toward the cost.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or email@example.com.