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South Okanagan

Horse racing returning to Osoyoos

After a long hiatus, a nonprofit is chomping at the bit to bring horse racing back to Osoyoos.

The Desert Park Exhibition Society has two dates set for the exciting event in June and August at the 40 acre Desert Park, on the west side of Osoyoos Lake.

“Basically we are a nonprofit that is trying to hold horse races and other events on the exhibition grounds of Desert Park," said member Jim King.

The site, which once served as a busy venue for horse racing, has been inactive for about 15 years.

Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells said there is no defining reason that it terminated other than lack of interest and volunteer burn out, because the effort can be very labour intensive.

Now that work is underway to return events to the facility, there is no lack of local support and a high level of excitement in the community.

“It will add some vibrancy and we will be attracting people from all over,” he said.

In recent years, the South Interior Recreational Equestrian Centre, SIREC, tried to again get it operational, but because it was a for-profit corporation, it was hard to get a proper agreement with the town, said King.

Some of those involved with SIREC are now active in the society.

There are already horses being boarded, as well as training, at the facility.

The horse racing dates are set for June 15 and Aug. 31 and will include eight races each day. Competitors are expected to come from BC, Alberta and Washington state.

At this point, the society is working on getting sponsorship and all documentation in order, as well as looking for around 80 to 100 volunteers.

A representative from BC Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch is expected to visit in April.

Carol Youngberg, president of the society, said it is a good way to keep both the horse industry and the facility alive.

“It is just revitalizing this beautiful site, that is the biggest thing we are trying to do, as well as bring in some income and boost the economy in our area,” she said.



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