The Greenwater Report for August 5, 2002

Greenwater Provincial Park - Monday, August 5, 2002 - by: Jerry Crawford


August 4th, 2002: Two days into the August long weekend, and the Park is packed. Yesterday was cool; last night the temperature dropped to 1°, and it only came up to about 18° in the afternoon, but the bright sun made it seem nice and warm.


Perfect weather for the last day of Kelvington’s Annual Fair. We went down after lunch to watch the horse events; we were a bit late, but as we walked to the grandstand we could see three chariots go past at a terrific rate of speed. One driver seemed to have lost his seat and was in the air, but when he hit the ground he still held the reins. His horses demolished the chain link fence, almost wrecked a minivan, and wound up where their trailer was parked, with the driver still hanging on. We found out later it was Curtis Longman, and neither he nor the horses suffered any injury worse than bruises. Someone said he was wearing a flak jacket, and thank heavens for that. Going over the jumble of fence and rails must have been traumatic. I understand it is a kind of code of the sport - if unseated, the driver hangs onto the reins for dear life. I suppose it is so that he at least tries to keep the team under control, but it would also reduce his chances of being run over by the team behind him. There were no further wrecks after that.



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I don’t believe I have ever watched an event as exciting as the chariot races and chuckwagon races. First, the noise, dust and confusion as the teams maneuver their barrels, then shooting onto the straightaway with the devil at their heels. I would swear those rigs were hitting sixty (though it is likely a bit under forty) when they went by me, the animals and the drivers strained to the max, the rigs rattling and banging, and always the danger of having a rig wind up in your lap. The track was quite dusty and there would be a pall of dust over the starting area; the horses come around the last bend, straining for every last bit of speed, the drivers standing and whooping, and they come through the dust cloud like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


The man on the mike said he had watched some city races from a closed-in press booth - without the noise and dust it just wasn’t as much fun as the small-town races. The stands were packed for both race events.


Between the chariots and chuckwagons were the heavy horse pulls, another event that fascinates me, partly because I find the heavy horses incredibly beautiful, and partly because they will pull their hearts out just to avoid a slap on the rump. If horses had brains, do you think Man could ever have dominated them? The lightest team was a bit over 2,100 lbs. and it stayed in for the longest time. Heaviest, I believe, was about 3,700 lbs. Final weight of the sled was close to 7,000 lbs.




I took about 150 photos, by the time I caught some horseshoe players, ball players and kids on the rides. Of them, I will likely get about ten that are any good. The rest are not wasted, though; since I went digital I have no film or processing costs. I kind of hope that by the time I am ninety, the money I save in not having to buy film and processing will almost pay the cost of my digital camera!


I mentioned the Park being busy last weekend - one event was Lorne and Evelyn Skawronski’s 40th wedding anniversary party, held in the newly renovated banquet room at the Cove. There were about sixty people there, from as close as Almi Campground and as far away as Ireland. Both sets of parents, Lorne’s and Evelyn’s, were there, and I understand kicking up their heels to some taped Ukrainian music. The Skawronskis spend the summer at Almi Campground. They were quite complimentary about the service and supper at the Cove. Nice to hear!
  Doreen & Jerry Crawford
Box 100, Chelan, SK S0E 0N0 (306) 278-3423