Horses racing returns to South Okanagan this weekend

Horse racing returns to Osoyoos this Saturday at the Desert Park Exhibition grounds.

For the first time in over a decade, horse racing returns to Osoyoos this weekend at the Desert Park Exhibition grounds.

Society president Carol Youngberg said the facility and track is in great shape for Saturday, the first of two race dates approved by the B.C. Horse Racing Association. The second race day will be on Aug. 31.

“We are a go. We have seven races, food, a beer garden and some great entertainment. We want to get everyone pumped up for the races so we will have music and provide a great atmosphere,” said Youngberg.

Providing live music over the course of the event are Mickie Spillet, Cindy Doucette and Diane Ball. Youngberg said there will be a concession and a number of other food vendors on site. She cautioned there is no ATM on site and everything at the facility only accepts cash.Purses for the races vary from $3,000 to $5,000 and there is paramutual betting, triactors and the Daily Double on the first two races on the card. The feature event is a quarter-horse race for $15,000.

For two years the South Interior Recreational Equestrian Centre tried to get the 40-acre facility running for a variety of uses. In 2011, SIREC and the Town of Osoyoos ended negotiations after council decided they could not lease the facility to a for-profit corporation. The Desert Park Exhibtion Society was then created as a not-for-profit and signed a five-year contract with the town. Since that was completed the society has been working to get the facility back into shape. Amongst the upgrades to the facility were new fence posts, entrance gates, horse stall upgrades and portable bleachers.

Youngberg said volunteers and the society have done a great job to bring the facility back to life and they are still looking for people who want to help on race day. Anyone wanting to volunteer can contact her at 250-485-2238.

Gates open at 2 p.m. and there is no admission fee. Parking is $5 and another $5 if you want a program. A shuttle service will be running at the facility starting at 6 p.m.