The 12th annual Cranbrook Mower Nationals are geared up and ready to roar this Saturday at Mission View Moving and Storage.
Pete Durning is the organizer of the event, which has come a long way from its humble beginnings on an old dirt road as a friendly wager between two good buddies.
“[My neighbour] was going by on his lawn mower one day and I was out on mine,” Durning said. “I was like, ‘Dude, we’ve got to race.’
“We took off and he had this fast garden tractor, John Deere-type thing, and he won that year.”
Next thing you know, Durning was making modifications to his wheels in hopes of taking home the inaugural title at the very first Cranbrook Mower Nationals.
The first running featured four racers and 20 spectators. In 2013, 17 racers attended the event with a crowd Durning estimated at close to 700.
“It’s just progressed and grown,” Durning said Thursday afternoon as he overlooked his homegrown mower race track. “What I really want to do here is have a community party.
“You bring your neighbours, your parents, your kids. Everybody get together and have a good time…and just enjoy that we live in this great little area. There are a lot of good people here. They rarely get together. Getting them together is a great thing.”
Races get underway at 4 p.m. and the night is capped off with live music, featuring Cranbrook’s Brotherhood of Lost Souls and a variety of other live musical acts including the organizer’s niece, Shay Durning.
Racers can check in and register anytime after 12 p.m. Entry into the races is free and admission for spectators is also free. Well-supervised children are welcome to take in the races, but after 9 p.m. the event becomes an adult-only affair.
Durning has a 15-passenger shuttle bus that will ferry fans from the races back into Cranbrook or up to Kimberley to ensure everyone gets home safe at the end of the night.
“[It’s] the most amazing end-of-summer party you’ve ever seen,” Durning said. “Period.”