Last year for Jacey Lee memorial barrel racing event in 2024

September 6, 2023, 3:27 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

One of the kids participating in the 2023 Jacey Lee Memorial Barrel Racing event holding a flag in memory of Jacey Lee.  Photo by: Sunnette Kamffer.

Next year will be the fourth and final year for the Jacey Lee Memorial Barrel Race event, on Aug. 24, 2024.

“We decided to go with the four seasons as that is how our Indigenous friends honour their passed love ones,” said Jacey Lee’s mother, Michelle Fredbjornson.

This past weekend, Jacey Lee’s family and friends organized the third memorial barrel racing event in Spy Hill, in honor of Jacey.

“This year went so great. Everyone that volunteers just got to work to help us host this incredible day of honouring our daughter,” said Fredbjornson.

“The weather was perfect, not too hot, even at the end of the day when we were doing the saddles and buckles presentations, we had a beautiful rainbow appear.

“I would say when everyone comes for this event, they come with a bit of a different intention than most barrel races. Of course everyone wants to make their best run, win a buckle, hopefully make the short go, and take home a saddle.

“It is an emotional day for many, and for the barrel racers that may not have known Jacey, they get a chance to see some pictures, hear stories, feel the passion she had for life, barrel racing, and for friends and family.”

After losing Jacey from a sudden and unexpected tragedy two years ago, her mother said the event is held every year to honor her daughter’s spirit.

“Jacey was 25 years old when on March 4, 2021 she passed in her sleep from Sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS),” she said.

“It was, and will always be, so devastating to us.

“Jacey was a vibrant soul, she had a very strong personality that she could accomplish anything she decided to do. She didn’t like to be wrong and wouldn’t waste her time on things that didn’t matter.

“Family and friends were very important to her. Her niece Leah was so special to her, they spent a lot of time together. Jacey was an avid hunter, loved checking cows in the pasture any chance she could go for a ride.

“She competed in the Manitoba High School Rodeo Association for many years, along with other rodeo associations. Jacey convinced me to start barrel racing about six years ago and for that, I am forever grateful for.

“Jacey lived her life to the fullest and in the short time of 25 years, I believe she did everything she was meant to.”

Thankful for community’s support
Five-hundred people came out on Aug. 26 for this year’s Jacey Lee Memorial Barrel Race event.

“We had 202 entries in the open, 48 youth, 39 peewees, which is a great attendance as there are always so many different events going on in summer,” said Fredbjornson.

“We were very happy with the amount of entries we had. Our open division is a 5D, which means the fastest time of 16.883 set the pace for the day to win the 1D with 22 contestants falling into that division.

“The top five in each division got to come back and run in the short go, in order to win the saddle.

“Andi Chartier and Rascal won the consistency saddle with their open short go run being only .042 off their first run. Rascal was previously owned by one of Jacey’s good friends Carla Fouillard. What was really cool is that Jacey had ridden Rascal many times. Andi Chartier is also a relative of Jacey.”

Having hundreds of people come out to support and participate in the event meant a lot to Jacey’s family, said Fredbjornson.

“For our family we put on this barrel race to honour Jacey and keep her memory alive,” she said.

“As a parent, your worst nightmare is you are so scared that people will forget who she was. Jacey had a passion for horses and barrel racing so this was perfect.

“When we started planning I never dreamt it would give us as much purpose as it does. She always said there should be a 5D to give more barrel racers that are starting out a chance for prizes, so that was our intention, to give back as much as we could to the contestants.

“This year in the 5D we gave prizes to the 18th spot.”

Jacey’s mother said every year the day of the barrel race event helps bring her closer to her daughter.

“There is something about this day that brings a sense of peace to many, you see smiles and you see tears, but what you see is many people come from all over to make this barrel race so special,” she said.

“They honour Jacey with us, and that is an incredible feeling.

“What this event means to me is that for this day we can give her one more day of celebrating Jacey, doing what she loved to do, being with family and friends.

“The love and support we receive from everyone is so amazing and we are so grateful.

“There is a bond in this amazing group of barrel racers, or rodeo family, that is so strong. We as a family are so blessed to be a part of it.

“The Ssponsors that donate to make this event possible we can not thank enough.”

With next year being the final year for the memorial event in honor of Jacey, Fredbjornson said it will be the biggest event yet.

“Next year, one of our major sponsors will be Oly’s Trading Post,” she said.

“We will be racing for a one carat diamond ring to be awarded to the contestant with the closest time to their first run.

“We have some pretty cool ideas that we are working on to make this race the biggest race yet.

“Thank you to each and every one that has helped us in this journey, Zane, Michelle, Aaron, Sam and families.”

People can follow the Jacey Lee Memorial Barrel Race on Facebook, for updates about the big event in 2024.