Returning for its thirty second time, the National Championship Chuckwagon races will take place Aug. 26 through Sept. 3 in Van Buren County.
As with previous years, a large turn-out is expected, with visitors from as many as 30 states, and competitors already registered from 16 states, event organizer Dan Eoff said.
Eoff and his wife Peggy started the event 32 years ago as a Labor Day weekend get-together with friends. It has, of course grown since then, with a large number of people - both inside and outside the Eoff family - working to put the event on.
This year will included “lots of entertainment,” Eoff said, with nine bands and entertainers throughout the multi-day event. Included will be last year’s Battle of the Bands winner, Mike Johnson and Southern Express, from Plumerville, appearing Aug. 26. Tracy Byrd with opening act Ashley McBryde will appear Aug. 30, and Stoney LaRue are at the Friday night, Sept. 1, concert.
New events are planned, as well as existing events being tweaked. In new, a sled pull race, where a team of horses or mules pull a weighted sled across a distance, is on the schedule. Sled pull events years ago where what gave rise to the tractor pulls of today.
The bull ride event will feature what Eoff called “friendlier” bulls in order to provide more performances. Legendary and multi-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) award winning rodeo clown Lecil Harris will be on hand for this as well. Harris has won several “funniest” awards from PRCA and continues to ply his trade at 80 years of age.
A pony race for children 10 and under will take place Sunday morning.
The event, as it has grown, has made an increasingly significant impact in Van Buren County over the years, as people travel to the Clinton area to watch and participate.