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  • Vermilion Voice

Dewberry Chuckwagons Return

Chance Bensmiller (front) turning the corner to the final stretch. Kurt and Cruise Bensmiller follow. Photos Elaina John

The Dewberry Chuckwagons returned on August 15 and 16.

The Chucks are usually in June, but were postponed this year. Due to COVID-19, the sportsgrounds provided hand sanitizers and posted signs to encourage social distancing. The turnout was much bigger than expected, and with 200 people in the grandstands, many latecomers were asked to stay in their vehicles to spectate the races.

The races were wild as they featured many successful chuckwagon drivers, including three-time WPCA winner and Dewberry native Kurt Bensmiller, two-time WPCA winner Rick Fraser, and 2019 CPCA Champion Todd Baptiste. Many members of the Bensmiller family were on the track this weekend, including 17-year-old Cruise Bensmiller, who only began racing this year.

Chuckwagon driver Todd Baptiste.

Heat three was a Bensmiller heat, featuring rookie driver Cruise Bensmiller racing against his esteemed and experienced uncles Kurt and Chance Bensmiller.

The winner with the fastest time over the weekend-long event was Todd Baptiste, who won $1,000. Baptiste donated all his winnings to the local Minor Hockey Association.

“It was a really well-run event,” Kurt Bensmiller commented, “and it was nice for people to get out and have something to do in the COVID setting.”

The Dewberry Chuckwagons were one of only a handful of local events to attend this summer as COVID-19 has cancelled many others that chuckwagon racing and horsemanship may have been a part of.

Indian Relay Race participant getting up to speed.

In addition to the chucks, the sportsgrounds also held An Indian Relay Race, in which participants riding bareback did a lap around the track and switched horses to complete another lap.


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