Andalusia hosts state championship

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Barrel racers from throughout the state will be in Andalusia this weekend for the National Barrel Horse Association's State Championship being held at the new Covington County Farm Center Arena.

Riders will compete for money and prizes totaling nearly $20,000. Winners in each division will be awarded not only money but also trophy saddles and a chance to compete at the World Championships in Augusta, Ga. in October.

Local competitors from Covington County include Andalusia's Cindy Alexander, Marry Ellen Bullard, Jeffery Carter and Jenna Carter; Red Level's Johnetta Deason; Opp's Christen Short, Regina Short and Debbie Davis; and Rose Hill's Marta Godwin and Sandy Holmes.

The National Barrel Horse Association is in its 10th year and is the largest association in the world.

The event is expected to draw about 300 people to the community with all of the local hotel rooms already booked, according to District 5 Director Sandy Holmes.

The state finals begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday with an exhibition and a warm-up jackpot.

The real deal begins Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with the Opening Ceremony followed by riders from the three divisions (open, youth and senior) saddling up for their runs.

Opening ceremonies will be conducted by the Covington Cowgirls and will be followed by the senior division for riders ages 50 and older. Those competing in the open division will follow the seniors with their first go of the state finals.

The riders participating in the youth division will cap off the day with the first of their two runs.

On Sunday, the finals will continue with a church service at the arena in the morning followed by the second run for those competing in the open division. The youth finals will follow the open division with the open finals capping off the two-day event.

The National Barrel Horse Association is the largest barrel racing association in the world with more than 22,000 members throughout the United States, France, Italy, Panama, Canada and Germany. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the NBHA, which was founded in Augusta, Ga. and revolutionized the barrel racing industry by pioneering the divisional format, which allows riders of all skill levels a chance to win money in barrel racing competition

In 2001, barrel racing paid out over $15 million nationally, over $4.4 million was paid through NBHA events and another $3.1 million was paid out through divisional format events pioneered by NBHA.

The ultimate goal of NBHA competition is competing at the World Championships: The Youth and Teen World Championship held in Jackson, Miss. in August and the Open and Senior Championship held in Augusta, Ga. in October.

All 16 World Champions will receive not only trophy saddles and money, but also a new 4-Star Horse Trailer. The best part is NBHA members can qualify for the Worlds at the District Level and at Nationals shows. There are 300 competition districts in the United States and there are eight coast-to-coast National shows with $15,000 added leading up to the NBHA World Championships.

NBHA's motto is "Where Beginners can be Winners" so whether you are a professional rodeo barrel racer, a futurity barrel racer or just a local weekend competitor, NBHA is the place for you.