Chuckwagon races

A pai of horse-drawn teams are shown during a race in recent years of the West Kentucky Chuckwagon Races at Cherry Corner. This increasingly-popular event will return this weekend to the Cherry Corner community of Calloway County.

CHERRY CORNER  — An event that has experienced rapid growth in both participation and spectator interest returns to Calloway County this weekend. 

The sixth annual West Kentucky Chuck Wagon Races are expected to attract competitors from several states for a weekend of activities all surrounding an Old West theme. Promoter Darrin McCuiston also serves as the event’s host on his land near the Cherry Corner community about five miles southeast of Murray. 

“When we started this, we had people maybe from three states coming in. Now, it’s gone to having as many as 10 states,” McCuiston said. ‘Now you’re starting to see these races popping up, particularly this side of the Mississippi (River), so there’s that, plus it’s the western lifestyle. This is something that goes back probably 250 years and people just love it.”

The chuck wagon race literally means what it describes. Horse-drawn wagons race at break-neck speeds with two people driving the team. On a grass track, they negotiate sharp turns, run up some hills and down others, all while maintaining control and attempting to stay ahead of the competition. Many races are decided by razor-thin margins. 

“It gets the spectators on their feet,” McCuiston said, adding that, somehow, in the years his land has hosted this event, no major crashes have occurred. “We don’t want anyone to ever get hurt, but these teams go at it hard. When you have that, you’re going to have a lot of close calls.”

However, wagon racing is not the only thing featured. Incorporated into the event are traditional rodeo activities. Starting at 7 p.m. Friday, one of those will take center stage, barrel racing. 

Saturday’s lineup also includes roping, wrangling and racing with a junior ranch rodeo set for 9 a.m. for competitors 14 and under. A rodeo to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee will begin at 7, with a ranch rodeo, featuring numerous games for children, starting at 6. 

On both Saturday and Sunday, what is being billed as cowgirl obstacle racing will be included in the days’ activities, along with pasture roping, which is similar to team roping in rodeo circles, where two ropers pursue a steer on their horses, then use their lassos to rope the animal’s horns and back legs. 

The cowgirl obstacle and pasture roping events will accompany the chuck wagon races on both Saturday and Sunday. Those start at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. 

“I’m going to go on a limb and say we’ll have about 2,500 people out here. We’ve had 1,400, so that tells you how it’s growing,” he said. “This is what people are figuring out, though. When you come out here, you are going to be entertained. There are a lot of things to see.” 

The venue for this weekend’s action is 1560 Cherry Corner Road. Information can be found on the event’s Facebook page. 

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