SportsEvents Magazine

JAN 2018

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January 2018 30 SPECIAL FEATURE: Awards & Recognition Issue Each year NBHA brings riders of all skill levels together to compete at the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) Youth World Championships of Barrel Racing in Perry, Ga., the largest youth barrel race in the world, Based in Augusta, Ga., NBHA boasts a membership of more than 23,000 from across the United States and 12 countries. The world championships at the Fairgrounds in Perry draws contestants from nine countries to compete in classes for the 12-and-under and 13-and-over age groups to take home more than $300,000 in prizes during the 11-day event. "NBHA is in its 25th year and is the largest barrel racing association in the world. The Youth World Championships of Barrel Racing is the largest barrel racing event in the world with more than 2,100 horses on site at the Perry Fairgrounds," said Sherry Fulmer, executive director of the NBHA. "We have children competing who are as young as four and as old as 19. It's a family affair where people really come and take a vacation. Families bring lawn chairs, swings, pools and spend the week watching other people and enjoying equine events." For every competitor in the barrel racing divisions, four additional relatives, friends or extended family members attend, often camping on-site to experience everything from a state spirit parade to NBHA idol contest shows. Others come for the western expo with more than 100 vendors selling everything related to the sport from ball caps to horse trailers. Started in Augusta, the youth world championships moved to Tennessee and Mis- sissippi before returning to Georgia, where the facilities are large enough to accommo- date horses, competitors and spectators. "There are really only five or six facilities in the United States large enough to host this event and Perry and the fairgrounds have second to none practice arenas and facilities," Fulmer said. "But it's the southern hospitality that you'll find here. They really extend the right hand of Christian fellowship." As a major event in the middle of Georgia, Fulmer said the State of Georgia "feeds every- one during the week. We've been in Perry for six years and it is just an amazing place and an amazing experience for our youth." Fulmer said the NBHA Youth World Championships of Barrel Racing is the second largest event held at the fairgrounds each year. The largest event is the annual Georgia State Fair. "Both events last between 10 and 15 days. On any given day, our event brings more than 15,000 people here to stay and visit the vendor area from the first Friday un- til the next Saturday. We also have the most animals of any event here. It's an amazing opportunity for youth. It's fun to be there and it's a fun town." By earning NBHA points at sanctioned events during the year in divisional barrel racing, riders with the fastest times earning the most points to have the privilege to compete in the Championships. With more than 250 competition districts in the United States, Canada, Italy, France and Panama, riders have many opportunities throughout the year to earn a spot for the ultimate title. While Fulmer said the World Youth Cham- pionships are serious business in the world of barrel racing, the sport encourages beginners to professionals to participate, hone their skills and compete. "You don't have to be among elite riders," Fulmer said. "It's sort of like golf. You have peo- ple from different backgrounds and abilities, but everyone is able to compete together in a sport they love. With barrel racing, it is the enjoyment of the equine lifestyle and riding their horse." While riders and their families enjoy the events, the more than $300,000 in prizes are an added incentive to perform well. Winners each year take home horse trailers, 300 buckles, sponsored items for horses, 10 championship saddles and cash. Since 1992, the NBHA has paid more than $12 million to barrel racing participants. "Every child qualifies in their home district to be in Perry and it's just a fun time for every- one involved. This [NBHA Youth World Barrel Racing Championships] is one of the best kept secrets out there," Fulmer said. This year's event is scheduled from July 21- 28, in Perry. "The youth world championships are not only fun; it's fun for spectators." n NBHA Youth World Championships of Barrel Racing Sherry Fulmer, Executive Director Annual event held at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Ga

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