The Dawson Creek Rotary’s Seventh Annual Pigeon race is now underway. Sixty homing pigeons will be flapping their wings over the coming weeks for an admirable cause, while providing some friendly competition amongst local commerce.
The racing rights of the pigeons are sold every year to Dawson Creek businesses to compete in a series of races, while in the process raising thousands of dollars towards community-based projects sponsored by the City’s partnering rotary clubs.
“Apart from the TV Rotary Auction it’s one of the largest fundraisers we have,” said Rotary Club of Dawson Creek President Elect, Dale Campbell. “We sell anywhere from 100 to 120 racing rights.”
The first of four races was held last Saturday with Hub International Barton’s prized flyer, Arnie coming in first with a race time of 1:04:20, just seconds ahead of Fast Fix (Dawson Creek Fix Auto Collision), and Westward Ho, bought by the Kurjata Family. The pigeons were released at Blueberry Mountain, and this coming Saturday will fly home from Fairview. Grimshaw is the third release point before the finals at Peace River on Sept. 9.
Lance Jones, who has been raising pigeons for over 30 years, and has raised provincial and national champions, raises the pigeons. The birds are tagged and clocked by an automated device located at their coop.
He said the pigeons are capable of reaching speeds of up to 45 km/h. From Peace River – “as the pigeon flies” – it would take three hours for the first bird to make it home.
The four races determine an aggregate winner, and the winning pigeon of the final race is crowned ‘king of the coop’. For the last race of the series pigeons are auctioned off at the club’s Pigeon Race Banquet prior to race day.
Last year’s auction earned over $15,000.
Campbell pointed out that money raised from the pigeon race has gone towards projects such as Reconnect House, the climbing wall at the Kenn Borek Aquatic Centre, upgrades of health care services at Rotary Manor, and numerous international projects, to name a few.
He said that aside from the first year of the event, the pigeon race has always been popular amongst the City’s commerce community, generating some friendly rivalries along the way.
“After the first year it wasn’t hard to sell 50 birds,” said Campbell. “Now there are bragging rights on the line.”
Jarrod Kehl, branch manager of Hub International could hardly contain his excitement over Arnie’s opening-series win.
“We are really happy with our bird Arnie, he is a perfectionist who has always believed in himself,” said Kehl. “At the rate he’s going he could take it all.”
While he did note that there are some tough pigeons “strutting their stuff”, Kehl was confident Arnie would see things through to the end.
“The wind direction of Fairview makes it a challenging release point for Arnie but he says he is up to it.”
The top ten pigeons after Race 1 are as follows:
Owner – Pigeon - Time
1. Hub International - Arnie - 1:04:20, 2. Dawson Creek Fix Auto - Fast Fix - 1:04:25, 3. Kurjata Family - Westward Ho - 1:04:25, 4. Longhorn Oilfield - El Toro III - 1:04:26, 5. Community Futures - n/a - 1:04:26, 6. Roseneau Transport - Rosey Rocket - 1:04:27, 7. Gordon Electric Ltd. - Shocker - 1:04:28, 8. DC Daily News - Scoop Davison - 1:04:28, 9. Dawson Co-op - Not a Chicken - 1:04:28, 10. DJ Bourassa Financial - Long Gone - 1:04:29