The Mississippi Horse Park will be a buzz with barrel racing this weekend for the eighth-annual March Madness.
More than 300 contestants from all over the southeast will compete in as many as 12,000 barrel runs during the three-day super show event.
"This is our biggest event we hold as far as horse activity," said Bricklee Miller, Mississippi Horse Park manager. "People love coming to Starkville to the horse park, so it's always turned out to be a fantastic event."
Mississippi is fourth in the nation in National Barrel Horse Association members, which means "Mississippi has a lot of barrel racing going on," Miller said.
Contestants of all ages ranging in skill from novice to professional will compete for money and prizes. There is no age limit to compete, which makes this a great event for the entire family, said Mary Jane Carpenter, owner of Ride West Marketing, who is putting on the event.
"We expect to pay out $50,000 in prize money," said Carpenter. "Money and prizes will be awarded at the end of each day, and a champion will be determined Sunday evening."
"Since this is a super show versus a one-day event, there is a lot more money added, more people participate and they also get a chance to qualify for the world show," added Miller.
Barrel racing is a fast-paced sport where a rider and this horse must complete a clover leaf pattern around three barrels, without knocking them over, in the fastest time. Each run takes approximately 14 seconds, and winners are often determined by fractions of a second.
"It's fun for people to watch because it's an exciting event," Miller said. "It's continuous action all day long."
The event is free for all who want to come and watch, and there will be a variety of vendors for spectators to peruse while they enjoy the races, Carpenter said.
"We invite everyone to come out and enjoy a weekend of some fantastic barrel racing," Miller added.
The races start Friday at 4 p.m. and will end at 10 p.m. The action will continue Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
March Madness will conclude Sunday. There will be a church service at the horse park at 8:30 a.m. and the races will resume from 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
For more information, contact the horse park at 325-3950.