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Posse Arena hosts ‘Ugly-Sweater’ barrel racing

December 7, 2016
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The Lee County Posse Arena barrel races this weekend had kind of a holiday twist - partcipants got to show off their ugly Christmas sweaters.

More than 40 can-chasers showed up to compete in a barrel racing fundraiser for the National Barrel House Association District 10 year-end awards.

And to make what are usually serious competitions a little more fun, everyone was encouraged to compete in the ugliest sweater they could find.

Article Photos

Michaili Berry, dons Christmas lights as she turns a barrel during an “Ugly Christmas Sweater Barrel Race” at the Lee County Posse Arena on Saturday. The event was a fundraiser for the end-of-year awards.

"We do a side pot called the 'ugly sweater' race. We did one with a Halloween theme a few weeks ago. You make your run and it counts as twice," said Sonya Cornett, NBHA District 10 director. "It's a way to have fun, make money and enjoy each other."

The money wasn't much, and if you weren't happy with your run or knocked over a barrel (which is a no time) you could buy a do-over for $25 to add to the pot and raise more money.

The NBHA races are not the same as those you would see at rodeos. There is no dress code at the local races (there is at the bigger ones), meaning hats or regular rodeo attire is not required.

This means the wearing of ugly holiday sweaters is perfectly okay, and some indeed did wear holiday sweaters. Others invented their own creative ways to compete. Michaili Berry decided to race as a Christmas tree, going around the course wearing Christmas tree lights that actually lit up and blinked while she ran.

"I have a battery pack in my back pocket that turns on all the lights. It should last a while," Berry said. "I love the NBHA and the competition."

Jaiden Hinman and Madisyn Freeland also wore lights and antlers, but didn't compete in them since the antlers would likely fly off in the arena. Caitlyn Ray wore an ugly Christmas T-shirt, since it was pretty warm for a sweater, with temperatures in the mid-70s when the race began.

"I like us to have fun and some people take this way too seriously. This is when we can be less competitive. It's not cutthroat or for points," Cornett said. "It's for fun and sportsmanship."

The next officials NBHA race will be held on New Year's Eve at noon at the Posse Arena.

Also, online registration for the Cracker Day Rodeo will be open on Jan. 3 and 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. For more information go to



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