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The Family Hotspot In Leamington

Published: January 20, 2020 9:11 am ET

Last Comment: January 20, 2020 3:55 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

When Lakeshore Horse Racing Association started operating Leamington Raceway in 2013 for their race meet, one of their main priorities was to make it a family destination, so all ages could enjoy an exciting afternoon at the races.

After losing Windsor Raceway, an anchor to the province, the group decided the way to bring back some sustainability was to encourage youth participation in the industry for the future, and a family atmosphere with entertainment helped to achieve that.

Leamington Raceway usually sees an average of 50-75 kids on a usual race day with totals in the hundreds on special-event days. One of Leamington’s most successful days is the annual Kids’ Day held on the Sunday of Labour Day weekend. This past Kids’ Day, there were over 30 bicycles given away to some of the lucky kids in the crowd who came to the races. This event has always been a big hit since its start in 2013, with a popular giveaway of bikes and other prizes. Another exciting part is the t-shirt toss, which gathers younger fans all around with excitement on their faces.

Kids’ Day is also highlighted by the much-anticipated Hands on Horses Program run by the Ontario Harness Horse Association, which gives rides behind a retired racehorse for an up-close feeling of what it’s like in the sulky. Leamington is lucky to have this program come two race days a year and put on this amazing experience for everyone to enjoy.

On the Sunday before Halloween, there is always a costume contest and the best costumes receive prizes. The same happens on the Derby Hat Day, with there being a category for kids.

On a regular weekly basis, youth are still a focus as Leamington offers a 'kid zone' underneath the grandstand which features colouring and crafts for the kids to do, and an opportunity to meet a retired racehorse named Lenny behind the grandstand. While young fans are at the track there are plenty of options: they can order from the canteen, as there is a kids’ menu available including healthy options as well as 'freezies,' ice cream, popsicles and more.

Another unique point worth mentioning is how the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association gives opportunities to youth by providing jobs that provide great experience in customer service and working in the backstretch as well as volunteer hours for school. I was fortunate to receive an opportunity to call my first harness race at the age of 12 on Kids’ Day, which sparked my passion to want to become an announcer. That opportunity, along with a few more years in the backstretch, led to my being promoted to become the on-track host at the age of 15. This position has helped to create more interest in the sport by youth, as they can relate to one of their peers in this role.

You can find Leamingon Raceway on many different social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so all ages can access their info. The 2020 season is going to be even more exciting for horsepeople and the fans: The season will kick off on August 9, with racing every Sunday until October 25 and a special card of racing on Monday, September 9. Post time for all race dates will be at 1:30 p.m.

(Nathan Bain for the USHWA Youth Committee)

January 20, 2020 - 3:55 pmThanks to the Lakeshore horse

Tom Bain SAID...

Thanks to the Lakeshore horse raceway committee and its many volunteers. It is a great place to be and to have family fun on a Sunday afternoon

January 20, 2020 - 10:47 amGood job Leamington Raceway

pat dillon SAID...

Good job Leamington Raceway for thinking about sustainability with activities for the kids and our next generation of race fans. I see a similar mindset with Kawartha Downs but unsure of other tracks ..Flamboro for one could think about making their track more accessible for next generation fans and I'm sure other race tracks could amp up more activities for our youths. Grand River has a great one day event and the place is packed.

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