Races, rodeos a Kiwi tradition
Racing and rodeo events are a drawcard for people from all over the country, and organisers say it’s about more than galloping, trotting, bucking and betting. It’s about community.
The region has nine big race and rodeo events over the Christmas/New Year period, and these provide valuable funding and exposure for schools, sports teams and community groups as well as a day out with family and friends.
Central Otago Trotting Club president Graeme Sinnamon says their Omakau trotting meet on January 2 is one of the largest race days in New Zealand, with upwards of 8000 attending.
This has a major impact for community groups who collectively earn about $30,000 on the day.
That money filters it’s way back into the community, which is why the races have become such an important day out, he says.
‘‘The better our day goes, the better the community goes as well,’’ Sinnamon says. ’’If you don’t do a good enough job in providing entertainment for people that aren’t necessarily about horses, they won’t come back.’’
Police opposition to the sale of liquor at the event had put the day in jeopardy.
Sinnamon says it would be ‘‘an absolute tragedy’’ to lose the races and he is grateful to be working closely with police to ensure it continues.
Roxburgh and Districts Lions Club president James Hill, whose organisation runs food for the January 4 meet in Roxburgh, says the races are ‘‘really important’’.
Money raised went back into the community and this year the Lions were setting some aside to help with Kaikoura earthquake relief.
One of the biggest events on the national rodeo circuit is the Wanaka Rodeo, which takes place on January 2.
Wanaka Rodeo president Lyal Cocks says the big thing for the community is that it’s on when plenty of visitors are in town, meaning it attracts up to 5000 people.
Groups including the rowing club, pony club, the community patrol and the Cromwell Car Club all benefit from participating in running the event and ‘‘it’s such a nice day out for families’’, he says.
‘‘It definitely does have a positive impact.’’
Patrick and Deanna McCarthy, of Hawea Flat, with horses Cotton, Snoopy, Chad and Arnie.