North Thompson Fall Fair to remember pony chariot racer Dave Price

Dedication to the memory of Dave Price to be held in the rodeo arena on Saturday, Sept. 1, after the parade in Barriere

The North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo this Labour Day weekend will make a dedication in memory of Pony Chariot racer Dave Price

The North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo this Labour Day weekend will make a dedication in memory of Pony Chariot racer Dave Price

In 1994 Dave Price took his pony chariot team to Chilliwack to race in the B.C. Chariot and Chuckwagon Association provincial championships.  And race they did, taking second in their class for 52 inch teams.  It was also at this event that Dave received the association’s Sportsman of the Year Award.  Dave Price was 76-years-old at the time.

That same year Dave received a plaque at the Williams Lake event honouring him for the oldest driver on the pony racing circuit.

“Dad was kind of proud that he was able to hang in there with the younger ones,” says his daughter Sharon;  who was the one who got Dave into the sport of chariot racing.

“I started racing around big tracks behind small horses in a little chariot in 1977,” notes Sharon, who received many awards herself.  Dave supported her in the sport, as well as mom Jessie who was the timer.  “Dad, got the bug a few years later when my team ran away with him in the chariot,” tells Sharon, “He stayed on and came back smiling.  He loved the speed; and that was it – he was hooked.”

Dave was born in Kamloops Sept. 19, 1917, and spent his entire life in the Barriere area. He grew up with a love of the farm life, especially horses. In his younger days Dave loved the challenge of riding unbroke or spoiled horses, then when they weren’t any fun anymore (wouldn’t buck anymore) he would sell them and get a new one.  His love of horses lasted a lifetime, and his taking up of the sport of chariot racing at the age of 60 just added to his list of equine accomplishments. Twice Dave was named sportsman of the year by his fellow drivers.

Dave, Sharon and Jessie, participated in racing circuits that included Clinton, Williams Lake, Chilliwack, Prince George, the Okanagan, and of course Barriere for the annual North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo.

Dave was a major supporter of the pony racing at the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo, not just as a driver and competitor, but also as an advocate for the sport, and for its growth at the event.  He was very proud of his hometown chariot and chuckwagon races, and worked tirelessly with his family to improve the track, build barns, and support the event in any way he could.

Sharon notes that there isn’t much money in the sport; mostly it’s a lifestyle, and the camaraderie and friendships that were made, make it all worthwhile. Sponsors help to keep the cost of racing manageable for the drivers, and Dave’s chariot raced under the banner of the North Thompson Indian Band, now called Simpcw First Nation.

Dave was an avid competitor, and as he advanced in age so did the numbers of his fan base.  The grandstand at the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo would rock with the cheers of the crowd whenever Dave raced his ponies; he was a spectator favourite and they let him know it!

Sharon says she raced a 62 inch team, while her Dad raced with “slightly faster 54s”.  The racing Prices did run against each other on some circuits, but she says they enjoyed the Barriere event more because they were in separate categories.  The father-daughter “grudge matches” never created animosity though, as Dave would jokingly say, “I had to let her beat me!”

Dave continued to race his team at the North Thompson Fall Fair under the North Thompson Indian Band banner until 2001, just days before his 84th birthday.

Dave passed away at home on the farm on May 5, 2003; leaving a legacy of good sportsmanship, horsemanship, and fast hooves at the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo.