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Canada Day Races resume at Millarville track

The Millarville Races is back with entertainment, on and off the track, for the first time in three years.
Millarville Races DL 208
Jockeys and horses compete in the first race at the 114th running of the Millarville Races on Canada Day, 2019. (Photo by Devon Langille/OkotoksToday.ca)

MILLARVILLE, Alta. — Horse racing is set to return to the historic Millarville Racetrack on Canada Day, with six thoroughbred races on the docket.

Other returning favourites, after two years of cancellations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, include the First Nations bareback relay race, stock horse and pack horse race, ladies’ sidesaddle race and the wiener dog race.

Race chair Brent Foster said he's seen 2,000 to 3,000 people attend the Canada Day races and is excited for a good turnout on July 1. The campground is booked solid, he said, and it’s a great family-friendly event where people can come out and enjoy the day. 

New for this year, the footing on the track has been significantly upgraded through support from Horse Racing Alberta. 

“The jockeys and the horse owners are pretty excited about the new surface,” Foster said. 

A couple of changes to reduce congestion and wait times in the area have also been introduced this year, he said.

Hosted by the Millarville Racing and Agricultural Society (MRAS), races start at noon with gates open at 10 a.m. Tickets are $15 and children 12 and under are free. 

Advance tickets can now be purchased online to streamline the admission process at the gate. Although tickets will still be available there on the day of the races, attendees can now purchase them ahead of time and be scanned in when they arrive, he said.

Staggered entry times have also been introduced to help ease congestion on nearby roads and improve traffic flow into the facility located on Highway 549 near the intersection of Highway 22 in Foothills County.

When purchasing tickets online, guests will be able to select an arrival time between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in 30-minute increments. 

“So, the idea is, if you can show up on your time, that way it prevents road traffic,” Foster said. 

Other attractions on the grounds that day include the Millarville Farmers' Market.

There will be a concession and food trucks on-site, along with a beer garden and live music, plus plenty of activities and races for kids to participate in.

Foster estimates there are upwards of 40 volunteers from MRAS involved in the event, many of whom return year after year and have a family history of volunteering with the MRAS. 

“It just keeps the community spirit alive and the community involvement when there's that history,” he said.

The Millarville Races are steeped in history with the first event taking place in 1905.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.millarvilleracetrack.com/race-track/.