Races, rodeos a Kiwi tra­di­tion

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

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.’’

MAR­JORIE COOK

Patrick and Deanna McCarthy, of Hawea Flat, with horses Cot­ton, Snoopy, Chad and Arnie.

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