Bed races return to Hooper Tomato Days

Tuesday , September 02, 2014 - 3:21 PM

Standard-Examiner staff

HOOPER — By about the width of a bed spread The Moo Crew edged the Ritchie family for first place in what marked the return of the bed races at the Hooper City Tomato Days Monday.

Less than half-a-stride separated the top two finishers, teams of four, who pushed beds on casters down a crowd-lined 65-yard strip of 5500 South and onto the finish line.

“It’s a family bed, just a bunch of stuff lying around the house,” said Moo Crew team captain Casey Chavez of Hooper.

Chavez said he figures their team invested more in their matching Moo Crew t-shirts than they did the bed. The family put about three days and $3 worth of work into the bed, he said.

And while Moo Crew members were utterly delighted with their first-place performance, the Ritchie family, who have deep roots in Roy, jokingly explained how they might have missed a step that may have contributed to their defeat.

“The road was narrow. There was candy. There was (manure),” Erica Winchester said of the bed race drag strip, which was also the parade route earlier.

The Ritchie family, which used a borrowed bed from Prescott, Idaho, vowed they would return.

Petersen Medical, of Roy, the race sponsor, placed a respectable third, about 2 1/2 seconds behind. There were only three beds entered in the contest.

But it is the hope of Tomato Day organizers that the bed race event will gain in popularity with its return.

“We want to bring it back. It’s been a long time,” Tomato Days bed race event organizer Mark Bingham said.

Hooper Mayor Korry Green said it has been about a decade since the bed races were last held. The races originated from area LDS Wards challenging one another to a bed race, and apparently the bed racing got lost in the fray of all the different activities Tomato Days now offers, he said.

But people were glad to see them back again.

Mike and Sue Henry of Hooper arrived early for the bed races to ensure they had a street-side seat for the event.

“I’m cheering for them all,” Mike Henry said, pleased to see they were re-introducing bed races to Tomato Days. Even though no one seems to know how fast beds and big, ripe tomatoes are related.

In addition to bed races, this year’s Tomato Days also offered for the first time the opportunity for children to participate in a catch-and-release fishing program sponsored by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

“This is the first step in creating a community fishery for Hooper,” said DWR Conservation Outreach Manager Phil Douglass.

DWR stocked the Hooper City “ditch” just outside Hooper City Park with about 300 catfish as part of the event.

“These are just great assets for a community,” Douglass said.

One who was successful was 5-year old Tayden Jager who reeled in a 20-inch long catfish using one of the state-provided fishing poles.

“It was like that big,” Tayden said, stretching his arms out like an old fishing pro.

Other events at the Tomato Days celebration included the parade, vendors, free watermelon, a rodeo and the ever-popular dog races which are held in the Hooper City Park rodeo arena.

There, dogs of all sizes, were turned loose to dash, dart, and on occasion run the wrong direction, as human callers barked out instructions.

Before Tomato Days is over, roughly 5,000 people will have attended the various events, said Sheri Bingham, Tomato Days coordinator.

“This is a fun happening place because we have got a great community,” Sheri Bingham said.

Hooper  City’s annual Tomato Days dates back to 1926.

Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or Follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.

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