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2001/05/15

Bloomfield's Annual Chuckwagon Races Bring Entertainment Missouri's true western spirit and hospitality will come alive May 25-27, 2001 when Holly Ridge Ranch in Bloomfield, Mo. hosts the 4th Annual Chuckwagon Races. The ACWRA sanctioned chuckwagon races encourage spectators to relive a dramatic page of Old West history and take part in Missouri's cowboy heritage. Each year, thousands of fans flock to Holly Ridge Ranch to enjoy fast-paced competition, cowboy cuisine and many other rip-roarin' activities, including barn dances, trail rides, rodeos, and a Sunday cowboy church service. Holly Ridge Ranch is located just North of Dexter, Mo on Hwy 25 and about 160 miles south of St. Louis. At Bloomfield's annual races, fans watch in amazement as cowboys fly into action - hurling equipment into wagons, then steering the loaded wagons in figure eight around barrels and charging to the finish line at breakneck speed. A rowdy display of Missouri cowboy culture, the Chuckwagon Races are surely one of Missouri's wildest and most unusual summer events. Chuckwagon team's from across the country converge at Holly Ridge Ranch to compete at the annual races. The excitement of chuckwagon racing has its roots in the history of the Old West, when a cowboy's home was his chuckwagon. These lumbering mobile kitchens served as the rangeland dining rooms and social centers for generations of cowboys. There is some debate about the exact origin of chuckwagon racing. While some believe chuckwagon races originated in the cattle drives of the 1800s, when chuckwagon drivers would race ahead of their outfits in order to find the best campsites, others recall land rushes, when settlers raced in wagons to stake their claims. Still others contend that chuckwagon racing evolved out of cowboys' weekly ritual of heading to town for entertainment at the end of the weekthe last one to town had to buy the first round at the local saloon. Whichever the reason, the cowboys were motivated to be as quick as possible in loading up and heading out. A fast team and efficient packing were the name of the game then and still are in today's races. There are plenty of other Western oddities to entertain fans at the three-day event. Spectators will see bull riding, barrel racing, mutton bustin', steer riding, calf riding, and team roping. Cowboys and cowgirls of all ages participate in the heart-stopping action of the Holly Ridge Ranch Rodeo. A barn dance on Friday and Saturday nights close out the day with square dancing and country music. Fans can also enjoy a home-cooked meal at Cowtown Cafe' on the ranch. Besides the chuckwagon races, Holly Ridge Ranch offers visitors trailrides, camping facilities, and relaxing campfires. A limited number of electric and water hookups are available, but space for primitive camping is abundant. Restrooms and hot showers are also available on the grounds. Event organizers encourage spectators to bring their own lawn chairs. A weekend drive to Holly Ridge Ranch can include several scenic stops in Missouri's Bootheel. The St. Louis Iron Mountain and Southern Railway in the neighboring town of Jackson welcomes children of all ages for a ride on an authentic 1946 steam engine. Visitors will enjoy stories of Jesse James, Civil War battles and the pioneering spirit that made the Iron Mountain one of the America's great railroads. In Sikeston, travelers can stop for a bite at the famed Lambert's Cafe', home of "throwed rolls." This year, Lambert's Cafe' celebrates 25 years of throwed rolls. Families might also stop for a tour of the Stars and Stripes Museum, where the famous military newspaper by the same name began during the Civil War in 1861. Travelers can learn about the history of the American military and the integral part the newspaper has played in the morale of America's servicemen and women. For more information about Bloomfield's 4th Annual Chuckwagon Races or other Missouri vacation ideals, consumers can call 800-519-4800 to request a free 2001 Official Missouri Vacation Planner or visit the website at www.visitmo.com.

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