About 200 horses and riders from all over the region are expected to converge on the outdoor pen at the Lee Civic Center for the annual Battle of the Barrels Open 4D barrel race to be held Saturday, Sept. 14. The exhibition runs start at 3 p.m., with the race starting at 5.
For $35, cowgirls will have a chance to compete for thousands in prize money, and they don't necessarily have to have the fastest horse to do it.
The event, which is run throughout the Southeast, is based in Fort Myers and run by Kevin Taylor, who attracts thousands of barrel racers with his organization.
He said he expects another large turnout this time around.
"Last year we had about 175 racers here and once all the reservations are made we expect 200," Taylor said, adding that he expects to run between 50 and 60 horses an hour, even with dragging the dirt every five horses.
For those who don't know, barrel racing is a rodeo event run by women, who must do a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels, with the idea of having the fastest time.
A 4D barrel race is different, for not only do they give prize money to the fastest racer (1D), but also to the racer closest behind by a half second (2D), a full second (3D) and two seconds (4D) off the fastest time.
"The race isn't over until the last ride because the one who won last year's event was the last rider," Taylor said. "It's not over until the last one comes across.
Each runner has a chance to change the outcome, regardless of whether they have the fastest horse.
The competitors will get a 70/30 split of the entry fees, plus $2,000 added because of all the entries, all of which goes to the riders.
With the top eight to 10 spots in each group getting money, Taylor expects the faster rider to get roughly $1,500, with the winner of 4D likely to get a couple hundred at most.
The entry fee is $35, and the riders can enter multiple horses if they wish. They will also get the opportunity to, for $20, get a second chance, where the cowgirl can ride the same horse, but has to scratch the first ride.
For information or to enter, go to their web site at: www.battleofthebarrels.com or call (863) 546-0083.