Wild Wagon Weekend

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By Tommy Brannon

The old west came to Mississippi on July 4-7, 2019 at the Marshall County Fairgrounds in Holly Springs, Miss. with the second annual Wild Wagon Weekend. There was a little bit of everything for all of the cowboys and cowgirls who attended.

Organized by Brad Hart of Hart Productions, the event consisted of trail riding, chuck wagon races, bull riding, ranch rodeo, pasture roping, team roping, team sorting, a scavenger hunt, arena and pasture barrel racing, cowboy mounted shooting, and an antique car and tractor show, with live music for each evening’s entertainment.

Spectators and competitors came from throughout the mid-south: Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Most stayed in RVs on the grounds and stabled their horses in the facility’s barns. 

 Many activities took place out in the big open field, as well as the indoor and outdoor arenas. Large round hay bales were used for demarcation and a safety barrier on the race course, along with orange plastic construction barrels.  

July 4th activities included the steak and rib cook off sanctioned by the Steak Cookoff Association, with $1000 going to the first place. There were 35 teams competing in ribs and steaks, plus a kids’ division. Many people jokingly asked to help the judges by tasting the steaks. There were trail rides throughout the day and team sorting in the late afternoon, followed by entertainment from the Marty White Band.   

  Friday July 5th started with a scavenger hunt, followed by Cowboy Mounted Shooting and Pasture Barrels. Pasture Roping was next in the big outdoor field. This is a lot more difficult than team roping in an arena, and more authentic to ranching in the old west where working cowboys had to rope and brand cattle out in the open.

  Nighttime activities moved to the indoor arena for Bull Riding and Barrel Racing. Justin Leggett took the microphone as the announcer, and engaged in some good-hearted banter with rodeo funnyman and bull fighter Justin Dickerson. Wild Heart from Ripley, Tenn. was the musical band for Friday night.

Saturday’s events started at 10 a.m. with Barrel Racing. Cowboy Mounted Shooting and Ranch Rodeo competitions also took place on Saturday. The main attraction, however, was the Chuckwagon Race on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Saturday’s live music was provided by Brandon Henson.

The event’s name, Wild Wagon Weekend, was a good description of the Chuckwagon races in the large open field. This category of Chuckwagon racing uses the traditional covered wagon, but unlike the Chuckwagons of old, most of the wagons were quite small, with small steel wheels and hard rubber tires of lawnmower size. This gives the wagon a lower center of gravity and, thus, is harder to turn over in a sharp turn. There were several categories of Chuckwagon Races: Landrush, 46” Mules, 52” Mules, 52” and 46” Ponies, Youth Mule and Youth Pony, 4Up Mules, Big Mules, Classic, and Buckboard. The harnesses used were far from conventional and could be a conglomeration of pieces. But for the most part, everything stayed hitched. There was a lot of excitement, enhanced whooping and yelling, bell ringing, sirens blaring, and even firecrackers from the racers.

Team names such as 2 Stupid 2 Stop, Shake N Bake, Hogs Eye, Full Throttle Bama Mule Skinners, Mississippi Misfits, and Injury List were emblazoned on the wagon covers. Spectators watched from three sides of the field, as well as the center of the course. Tailgating in the bed of a pickup gave a good vantage point. Many had canopies set up around the course to provide shade from the hot July sun. 

The idea of the race is to copy what the cowboys did on the trail in the old west, with some added competition requirements. The wagons are pulled by a team of two with a driver and a cook in each wagon. The race team consists of the wagon team and an outrider racing on horseback. The wagons line up for a pistol start with the outriders dismounted.  The outrider has to load the moving wagon with a cook stove and a bedroll and then jump onto his horse to gallop at full speed. Somewhere on the course the outrider has to pass the team wagon and must cross the finish line ahead of the wagon. The challenge for the outrider is to mount a moving horse who has already anticipated the start of the race and maintain control to beat the other team.

Sunday morning began with Cowboy Church where everyone was encouraged to attend on horseback. The day’s competition began with Jackpot Team Roping, and the weekend’s competitions finished with more Chuckwagon Races all afternoon.

Brad Hart says he plans to make Wild Wagon Weekend an annual event at the Marshall County Fairgrounds.

46 mules- Full Throttle
46 ponies- Gone Nutt’s
52 mules- Sue’s Pawn Express
52 ponies- Full Throttle
BHRT - Mt Vernon Mule Men
Big Mule- Hog Eye
Buckboard- Bad Company
Classic- K-8

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