The largest jackpot Alberta sees each year is the Alberta Barrel Racing Association Finals, held in Ponoka Alberta at the end of August, with roughly 800 entries, and is done so over the course of seven days. One of the next largest jackpots held in Alberta is The Barrel Bash and Slot Race held each April by Lisa and Travis Gallais.
The event started out in 2010 and it was the Barrel Bash & Poker Roping. After a couple years, the Team Roping died down, and it carried on as just ‘The Barrel Bash’. Over the next few years, the two would see the event grow from 67 entries, to over 350 entries in 2015. Last year, the Barrel Bash paid out over $67,000, and the event is expected to grow again this year.
The main event during the three day jackpot (Friday Warm Up Jackpot, Saturday JP & Sunday JP with a Short Go) is the Slot Race held the Saturday night.
Fifty slots are sold, where each contestant runs for a larger purse. The race usually draws a crowd. Its a different atmosphere than the usual jackpot. The crowd is loud, the music is upbeat and the air is electric.
The entry fee is $250 with 96% of the money going back into the pot. Three places will be paid in each division. 50% of the pot will be paid in the 1D, 30% for the 2D and 20% to the 3D. The payout will be:
First Division (1D)
Second Division (2D)
Third Division (3D)
The first year I ever attended this jackpot, I was able to enter the Slot Race the day of. As I write this, during a cold January day, the Slot Race has already SOLD OUT.
With the economy as poor as it is this year, running events like this will be harder than ever, as potential sponsors are holding onto their money a little tighter. Lisa & Travis experienced this with their trophy saddles they have for the Short Go winners. One barrel racer had an idea to make sure the last saddle covered.
Kim Gulley Munroe suggested that each of the contestants or supporters contributed just $10 each to cover the $1600 Trophy Saddle. In two days, the saddle was paid for by the generosity of others. So fitting for an event like this.
“I (Lisa) would like to acknowledge Kim Gulley Munroe for stepping up and taking it upon herself to come up with a plan to raise the money for the 4th saddle. I’ve never in my life seen a group of people come together to achieve this amazing act of kindness. Travis and I are overwhelmed with the support from you all and we thank you for this. The sponsor name for this saddle will say “PAY IT FORWARD” as that is what will happen and some lucky person will be the one to cherish this amazing gift.”
This is personally my favorite jackpot of the year, and I always look forward to it. It has always been so well run. This jackpot has a different atmosphere than others, with Lisa pushing for a positive, supportive environment. The best part about this jackpot? You leave with your cheque in hand, no waiting three months to get your earned money, if at all.
I asked Lisa what drives them to produce this jackpot year after year. “We continue to produce these jackpots for the passion I have for the sport and the love for our contestants. Nothing is more heartwarming then rewarding a contestant with a large cheque or prize for their hard work and dedication. To see these individuals so excited and in tears when they receive their reward is the best gift ever. As the saying says “It feels better to give than receive” cannot be more true. We can’t stop now; heck, it’s just getting good and the support is amazing!”
Running jackpots of this size is tough and the producer has to be organized. “We would like to think our events are run in a timely manner and we have to start by acknowledging our production crew, I could not do this without great people behind us. Both Brandi Love and Carrie Wedman are huge assets to my team. Their computer knowledge, organizational skills, professionalism and understanding what this means to us has been the key part of our success. Using 3 bikes and groomers also helps make things run faster; there is nothing more frustrating I’m sure for both spectators and competitors than waiting on a tractor. We also want to acknowledge our competitors, their promptness and readiness allows us to run approximately 60 to 65 runs per hour.”
This being my favorite event, I had to ask Lisa what she felt made it stand out from other large jackpots. “Well I’m not sure our productions do stand out from the rest but we like to try and produce a well organized production with good transparency. I feel as a producer and a competitor understanding where my money is being spent says a lot about a production and the producer. Our fees are set higher than most and the percentage we take for production costs are lower which in return gives our competitors a larger payout. For us, that’s what this is all about. Anyone that has ever produced knows you do not get rich doing it. Rules..Yes, we have them and I try my hardest to stick to them. It may make some people upset or frustrated but I think in the end it gives flow and structure to the event. Our Slot Race also is an extra, seeing people step up to pay big dollars to win big dollars is exciting. It’s a good race and to watch and hear the excitement from the competitors and spectators is electrifying. Lastly, our ability to give quick results and payout sure helps. People want to know where they stood and to be paid immediately afterwards I’m sure is a nice feeling.”
Barrel Bash Productions is run by Lisa and her husband Travis. Many would not be able to work in such a stressful environment with their husband. I wondered how they manage through out the weekend to still be a married couple. “Working with Travis…how about trying at times!!!! I honestly wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else. Truth be told, he is the brains behind this all. His experience with competing and producing team roping jackpots in the past has definitely helped me put all this together. I would not have had a clue where to start. He has told me several times if it wasn’t for me being his wife he would want nothing to do with it!! Thank God I am!”
Not many husbands would want to get involved with 350+ barrel racers in one weekend. Travis manages to cope through the weekend “I just grin and bear it!!! The more years we do it the easier it seems to get. Oh yes, Bud Light helps too.” *Ladies take note, he likes Bud Light.*
Travis is the Team Roping Director for the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association. I asked how having this kind of background has helped create a better production. “As an open roper myself, I am aware of the production costs and stock charges producer’s charge. Doing the math and treating my roping as a business gives me the knowledge to know what amount of money I am even roping for before I rope. I feel it is so important as a competitor and a producer to understand this and in return it has given our productions structure. Also, team ropers pay higher fees, but if we win or place we also take home some cash. This is where I wanted to go with our jackpots. I see tons of girls driving $70,000 truck and trailers and paying $10,000 and up for their horses and then paying $40 entry fees to win maybe $200. I want our competitors to leave our jackpots with some cash in their pockets and the only way to do this is to pay higher fees.”
Over the years Lisa had stopped running in her own jackpots. “Well I stopped competing at my jackpots for a number of reasons. One, I’m a control freak. I look at it this way; if I myself screw up on the computer, the draw or payout then I can only get mad at myself which in turn saves my crew from a tongue lashing (laughs). Secondly, the past couple years I did not have a horse to run but this year I am stepping out of my comfort zone, putting my trust into my fabulous crew and saddling up! I’m looking forward to joining our Barrel Bash family and having some fun.” Lisa has very nice horses, and I’m looking forward to running with her.
I asked Lisa what they are expecting for entries this year. “This is a hard question to answer as every year our number grow and grow. We started out 6 years ago with 67 entries in the Open and last year we had 55 plus in the Youth and 350 plus in the Open each day. I’m amazed with this all! Our Barrel Bash Production and event page on FaceBook continues to grow in numbers so we are hoping for 400 plus this year. This would make us one of the largest jackpots in Alberta next to the ABRA finals. That’s just crazy and exciting!!”
The projected pay out for 400 entries paying 10 holes per division in the Open would look like this:
1st – $1260.00
2nd – $1080.00
3rd – $900
4th – $780
5th – $600
6th – $480
7th – $360
8th – $240
9th – $180
10th – $120
Ladies, if you have never entered this event, check your calendars for the April 8-10 weekend, and mark it as busy. Check out this FB link for ALL THE INFO!
You may also want to check out their Fall production, The Bolt for the Colt, where the format of the event is an Open 4D jackpot with the top five and bottom one of each division coming back along with one wildcard spot for the short go. To ensure that everyone has a chance, the winner will be the person with the MOST CONSISTENT time, taking home a yearling which has been donated each year.
Travis and I want to thank each and every one of you for your continued support over the years. This silly thought we had 6 years ago over a bottle of Captain Morgan’s has exceeded our expectations by far and we promise to you we will continue to give you the best we can produce.