Barrel race raises funds for housing

On Oct. 10, the public square was bustling with crowds of people lining up to enjoy a free pancake breakfast and watch Oktoberfest’s 31st annual barrel race.

The pancake breakfast, which began at 7 a.m., was made possible by Aunt Jemima pancakes, Pillers sausages and the cooking skills of the students of Conestoga College’s culinary program.

“You know there are 10,000 people that showed up for breakfast here this morning bringing life to the centre of our community,” said Mark Whaley, city councilor for ward five.

The barrel race, organized by the UpTown Waterloo Business Improvement Area (BIA), raised funds for Supportive Housing of Waterloo (SHOW).

Teams made up of four participants registered for the event, paying a $35 fee that went towards the charity.

Raising money for the charity was fundamental for the participants who came out at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. “It’s the fundraising we do it for,” said Alexis Conrad, who was participating with her coworkers from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

“Some of them have been rolling for years and years and years and it’s quite a competition that they have going on with their archrivals,” said Patti Brooks, executive director of BIA.

Although several teams have participated over the years, new teams are always encouraged. “You don’t need to have any particular sporting abilities to roll a barrel,” said Brooks.

The race was set up as a relay, with two team members at a time rolling the barrel down the track.

“All four of them pretty much have to be in synch because it’s a hand off,” explained Brooks.

Brooks did note that the task was not as simple as it appeared for the participants. “Some people have been out partying the night before so it’s a bit of a challenge for them to get here this early.”

Whaley spoke about the city councilor’s team, made up of himself and councilors Karen Scian, Angela Vieth and Diane Freeman.

“We usually come in last place which is great because it gets us to the bar a little quicker,” said Whaley.

This year the councilors were unable to race at all as the entire team was not present in time for the event’s start.

In addition to the competitive barrel race, there was a wheelbarrow race for children.

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