The holiday season ended last month, but this month Augusta has its own special 10 days of fun - the 27th annual Augusta Futurity, where the Old West meets the Old South. This celebration, which gets under way Thursday at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center and runs through Jan. 28, beats any New Year's Eve party.
We refer not only to the cattle cutter competitors, but also to their fans and everybody else who comes to see the riders demonstrate their finely honed skills and superbly trained equine athletes. They put on a spectacular show in eight official events sanctioned by the National Cutting Horse Association.
The three-day Futurity that debuted in Augusta in 1980 with about 140 entries and a purse of $64,489 has grown over the years to be the largest cutting competition east of the Mississippi. Now, with more than 600 entries from across the United States and Canada and a purse in excess of $1 million, the event is a major "happening" for the Southeast.
There are a host of auxiliary events such as the Wrangler Family Fun Fest, the country dance open to the public, a horse sale and the enormously popular bull riding competition. And don't forget the wonderful Western Expo vendors selling goods you can find in the South only at the Futurity.
There will be lots of well-earned applause for riders and horses in coming days, but also deserving a hand are the hard-working volunteers who make the Futurity possible and, to be sure, the Champions' Club - the more than 60 businesses and sponsors whose annual dues provide funding for the event.
For more information on the Futurity and related events, be sure to check out The Chronicle's special section to be published Friday.