August 8, 2014. Hundreds of fans braved the rain and unseasonably cool temperatures to watch local racer Dwayne Dubuc drive his Alberta Biochar Initiative-sponsored chuckwagon to second place in his heat and move him into third place in the overall season standings on August 8 in Vegreville, Alberta.
The racing was intense, slippery and extremely muddy! Afterwards, more than 100 racers, crews and invited guests gathered at a post-race celebration sponsored in part by Alberta Biochar Initiative (ABI), a not-for-profit organization founded by Tech Futures and Lakeland College to develop and demonstrate technologies that will enable large-scale commercialization of biochar products and applications for Albertans’ benefit.
A number of local elected officials and government representatives came by to celebrate the week’s chuckwagon racing and discuss biochar’s potential over a hamburger or two. MLA Jackie Fenske, Vegreville councillor Taneen Rudyk, Vegreville town manager Jody Quickstad, Milburn County councillors David Rattray and David Melenka, and Vegreville Economic Development Advisory Board’s Andrei Dolgirev were among those who dropped by to meet the racers and learn more about biochar. Former Vegreville mayor and Alberta Research Council alumnus Richard Coleman also stopped in.
Several people from AITF and Lakeland college including Byron James, Ataullah Khan Mohammed, Ralph Lange (who also performed on bass, fiddle and mandolin as part of the Off Ramp Boys band), Scott Lundy, Alok Dhungana and Don Harfield were there to speak with interested guests about Alberta Biochar Initiative. ABI Biochar Coordinator Alok Dhungana demonstrated a portable biochar cooker to curious onlookers.
“In my view, we succeeded in maintaining and enhancing AITF’s and ABI strong connections to Vegreville and surrounding area,” says Don Harfield, Thermochemical Processing Team Lead. “We spoke at length with local and regional farmers about biochar, its many potential uses and how to create a viable Alberta biochar industry.”
The photo essay that follows will give you a much better sense of what it was like at Friday night’s hair-raising chuckwagon racing and the post-race event ABI partially sponsored. Enjoy!
Calm, cool, collected and clean. Dwayne Dubuc (left) guides his ABI team to the start line.
- “They’re off!” Horses and wagons explode off the start line in an effort to gain the inside rail position before the first turn.
Slip-sliding away. Muddy doesn’t begin to describe Friday night’s track conditions in Vegreville.
“Here they come, into the backstretch…” Times were four or five seconds slower than usual, thanks to soupy track conditions.
- “And the winner is…” The ABI team pulls hard and literally ploughs its way to second place in the heat.
Let’s cool down and hose off. The ABI team, driven by Vegreville fan-favourite Dwayne Dubuc, heads back to the barn to cool down and clean up after a tough race.
Vegreville fans are a dedicated bunch. Hundreds of chuckwagon racing fans came out to the races, despite heavy rain, cool temperatures and a miserable long-range weather forecast.
ABI pride. The ABI-sponsored chuckwagon raced in Vegreville and Vermillion this year, where the Initiative’s two founding partners – Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures’ Vegreville facility and Lakeland College – are based. Alok Dhungana (left) and Don Harfield (right) join driver Dwayne Dubuc (centre) for a “hero shot.”
- Two tough mudders. Driver Dwayne Dubuc and one of his team, Buddy, relax and swap stories after the race.
“Greetings from the Government of Alberta…” Local MLA Jacquie Fenskie (left) delivers greetings from the provincial government at the post-race celebration.
- Let’s get this party started. The Off Ramp Boys, a local four-piece band featuring Tech Futures’ own Ralph Lange (right), Randy Kereliuk, Rob Hughes, and Gordon Forbes entertain the crowd at the post-race event.
Two-stepping under the stars. The Off Ramp Boys’ music moves several couples, including this one, to break into dance.
Portable biochar cooker demo. ABI Coordinator Alok Dhungana fires up the portable cooker and demonstrates the unit’s effectiveness at heating meals and producing small quantities of soil-enhancing biochar.
- Biochar’s flame burns bright. When the surprisingly efficient portable biochar cooker is up and running, its flame burns bright and clean. A handful of combustible biomass (wood or agricultural waste) is all it takes!
Fair sunset. By all accounts, August 8’s chuckwagon racing, post-race event and biochar networking in Vegreville went very well.