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Cloverdale Bed Races helps keep ‘the spirit of the rodeo’ alive

Another Bed Pan trophy win for Turkey’s Party Makers

It was another win for Turkey Kielesinski and his Party Makers Racing Team at the Cloverdale Bed Races May 19.

According to Turkey, the win was their seventh in a row and ninth total.

“I tell ya, it’s refreshing!” Turkey exclaimed after the win.

Turkey and is team won the inaugural race in 1976. He had a bit of a hiatus in the win column until about a decade ago when the Party Makers Racing Team finally raised the Bed Pan trophy again. Turkey lost the race the following year, but won the next and has now won seven straight races.

Turkey said the inaugural race was six blocks—three down and three back—as it zigzagged through Cloverdale.

“You started on 176th Street, turned on 57th, then came up 176A Street,” he said. “Then you turned around and came back.”

He said the inaugural race was a war of attrition, but not because the teams had to zig and zag six blocks.

“There were bags of crap being thrown. Eggs. Herring. You could ram other beds. The firemen hooked up the fire hose to a hydrant on the corner and sprayed the teams. We were all wearing kilts and they blew our kilts off. It was a battle royale.”

Turkey said he and his team crossed the finished line for their historic win in the buff.

He said the race was cleaned up the following year, rules were added, the race was changed to one block up and back, and the the race has remained pretty much unchanged since the mid-’70s.

“No throwing things. One block. No hoses. It was the Wild Wild West back then,” he laughed.

Turkey was surprised to see such a large crowd. He noted it was about a third of what it usually is, but he still didn’t expect to see that many people.

“I’m really impressed with how much of the town showed up here,” he explained. “I never expected this many people since (the rodeo) has been cancelled for three years. We want to keep (the races) alive to keep the rodeo weekend going. We have keep that seed planted.”

Gerry Spielmacher, president of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association, said the bed races were bittersweet for him.

“The bed races are so much fun. It’s a major part of Rodeo Weekend, as it kicks off the Cloverdale Rodeo and we have so much fun working with the Chamber and the BIA, but of course there’s no Rodeo this weekend.”

Spielmacher said they’ll use this weekend and the success of the bed races to start to build towards the 2023 rodeo.

Paul Orazietti, Executive director of the Cloverdale BIA, said he was also impressed with the turnout.

“You can see the people really want to come out and do things. We had to do something. We had to keep the spirit alive. That’s why we ran these bed races. We want to make sure the people see there’s a future for this rodeo.”

Counsellor Linda Annis was also taking in the convivial competition.

“It’s great to see so many members of the community,” she said. “People are just so happy to be out again and to be able to have that sense of community. It’s great to be out and to be able to see everyone.

She added that events like the bed races provide both great entertainment and build community spirit.

Cloverdale Rodeo board member Rick Hugh was handling the marshalling duties for the races.

“This helps keep the spirit of the rodeo alive,” said Hugh. “In 2023, we’re going to be back bigger and better. The rodeo, country fair, bed races. It’s just nice to see the entire community pulling together.”

As for Turkey and the Bed Pan trophy. He said they were going to grab a bite and then celebrate the win with a drink or two.

He said the Bed Pan trophy is like the Stanley Cup.

“Come to Henry,” he said as he laughed wholeheartedly . “We fill ‘er up, and around it goes! Absolutely!”

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Malin Jordan

About the Author: Malin Jordan

Malin is the editor of the Cloverdale Reporter.
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