Competitors and spectators gathered in Missoula Fairgrounds on Saturday for the Marsh Performance 2020 Horses Barrel Race Series. Despite challenges with COVID-19, people attended from across the state.
“We’ve been lucky with this event. We really tried working with the Missoula health department with what they asked us to do, which was the sign-in forms, the sanitation stations and all that kinda stuff,” Robin Marsh, organizer of the series said.
Robin and her husband, Ron Marsh, started the barrel races four years ago in Corvallis, Montana, but moved the event to Missoula in its second year.
“It’s easier here because more riders can come,” Robin said. “We’ve had quite a few that have come as far from Billings to here, we’ve had one from Wyoming, one from Idaho, and one from Oregon. We’ve had a few out-of-staters.” Most of the competitors are from Western Montana.
Saturday marked the end of the 2020 series, which was made up of five races. Riders had to compete in three out of the five races in the series to qualify for the final. About 80 riders participated.
“It’s just grown every year,” Robin said. “I want to say we started with 60 our first year, but in our last race we had over 120.”
Both Robin and Ron said they hope to continue the event next year and are thankful for the community’s support, especially during the pandemic.
“You have to give a lot of credit to the community for donating to the cause of putting events together like this. All the good donors,” Ron said. The donations from Missoula businesses are used to give prizes to the riders.
They plan on keeping the event in Missoula. “They’ve all been gracious, and given more every year. We keep building our pot.”