Chuckwagon races scheduled in Clinton

by Mark Oliver

Residents of the 501 and beyond can embrace their inner cowboy and cowgirl at the 27th annual Chuckwagon Racing National Championships in Clinton.

Activities get under way on Saturday, Aug. 25, and continue through Sunday, Sept. 2.

Held by Clinton residents Dan and Peggy Eoff, the races began as a western-themed Labor Day party amongst friends. 

“My parents and their friends all had wagons and horses and suggested having chuckwagon races,” said Dapple Eoff McCracken, daughter of Dan and Peggy Eoff. “The word got around town and it caught on — 500 people showed up just to watch. My parents decided that they could make money off of the races, so they did it next year, too, and it kept growing to where it is now.”

Today, Clinton welcomes more than 20,000 people from the United States and beyond for the races, which is known as the largest equine event in the nation. 
“Every year, this event means a lot to the city of Clinton,” McCracken said. “Many of our local businesses post record sales during the event. It brings a lot of revenue into the community, which is being kept alive by gas and oil right now.”

Reminiscent of the Wild West, an estimated 150 teams are expected to gather from across the country to compete for the national title on 400 acres of land in the Eoff family’s backyard. Along with the races, competitors can also participate in bronc fanning and the Snowy River Race, named after the 1982 film, “The Man from Snowy River.”

The race includes two downhill runs and a plunge into the river at the end. Additionally, $100 per contestant in the Snowy River Race will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Various musical artists will be performing at the event, including Darryl Worley, Joni Harms, Restless Heart and the Kentucky Headhunters. Spectators can also partake in trail rides in the Ozark Mountains, bull riding, campsites and various clinics. Vendors will be on site throughout the weekend featuring various collectibles, crafts, art, saddles and tack at the Western Trade Show. 

“Many people make lifelong friends by coming here,” said McCracken. “We have a 300-acre place where people can camp. Many people come to camp and bring their own horses and ride the trails. Last year, we had more than 6,000 horses and mules on the property at the same time.”

More than $20,000 worth of prizes is up for grabs at the races, including saddles, jackets, belt buckles and “Chuckwagon Bucks,” which can be spent at the trade show after the races.

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