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wife carrying competition

Lakeland Country Fair’s Wife-Carrying Competition Looking For Clingy Couples

Cora always dreamed of being swept off her feet. She just didn't expect it to involve so much running!

When Reece Kingdon and his wife Cora Cummings married, they never expected the vows ‘to have and to hold’ would mean clinging to each other for dear life at the Lakeland Country Fair.

1st Place in 2023  –  Cora Cummings & Reece Kingdom | Lac La Biche Agricultural Society

Reece and Cora are residents of Hylo, a small hamlet in Lac La Biche County. The couple competed in and won last year’s 1st annual wife-carrying event at the fair hosted by the Lac La Biche Agricultural Society.

Yes, you read that right. Alberta is home to the only wife-carrying event in Canada that is sanctioned by the North American Wife Carrying Championship.

Sunday River Resort, the sport’s governing body in Canada and the United States, owns the event.   

Funnily enough, wife-carrying originated in Finland and is based on the 19th-century legend of Herkko Rosvo- Ronakainen, which translates to “Ronkainen the Robber.”

There are three stories about Ronkainen and his thieves. The first story accuses the thieves of stealing food and women from villages and carrying these women on their backs as they ran away.

The second story claims that Ronkainen and his men would go to villages, steal other men’s wives, and make them their own. 

The final story suggests that Ronkainen trained his thieves to carry big, heavy sacks on their backs, which may have evolved into a sport.

Thankfully, the Wife Carrying Championship doesn’t involve stealing women. 

The first wife-carrying event was held in Finland in 1992 and is held annually in Sonkajärvi. The North American Championship started in 1999. 

Cora Cummings and Reece Kingdon competing in the wife-carrying competition at the 2023 Lakeland Country Fair
Cora Cummings and Reece Kingdon competing in the wife-carrying competition at the 2023 Lakeland Country Fair | Chris McGarry | Lakeland Today

Take Your Relationship To The Next Level

Nothing tests a relationship like carrying your partner through a 254-metre obstacle course filled with dry and water obstacles!

During the Wife Carrying event, competitors run through the course two at a time in timed heats. The two fastest teams compete in a final feat, with the winning couple taking the title. 

If a competitor drops his teammate, the team is penalized, and five seconds are added to their time. Teams cannot advance without the “wife” being carried.

A wife-carrying team taking a tumble  Black Panther
A wife-carrying team taking a tumble | Black Panther | YouTube

Any team that does not carry their partner through the course is disqualified. 

There is no restriction on how someone carries their partner, but the most common methods are piggyback, fireman’s carry, and Estonian carry. 

Things are a bit different this year. There is now a minimum weight of 108 pounds for the person being carried. 

Anyone under this weight will have to wear ankle weights to bring them up to weight. Unlike last year, the top three teams will be recognized instead of just the top two. 

“There won’t be a race-off…it’ll just be the three with the fastest time…and we’ll have a first, second and third place,” Aurel Langevin, the president of the Lac La Biche Agricultural Society, told Lakeland Today.

While the rules are slightly different, the prizes are mostly the same as last year 

Winners will receive an amount of beer equivalent to the weight of the person being carried, requiring competitors to literally weigh the risk and reward for carrying someone heavier. 

Winners will also receive a cash prize based on weight and free entry to the North American Wife Carrying Championship finals at the Sunday River Resort in Maine, United States, in the fall. 

The top three teams will receive tickets to the Edmonton Riverhawks game on July 20. 

Competitors trudging through a water obstacle during a wife-carrying competition
Competitors trudging through a water obstacle during a wife-carrying competition | EPA | Daily Mail

A Slow Start

According to Langevin, registration for this year’s wife-carrying event for the Lakeland Country Fair has been slow, with only one couple from Saskatoon signing up.

However, Langevin isn’t too worried and claims registrations will start picking up in July. Last year, most competitors didn’t sign up until two weeks before the contest. 

The event saw 20 teams register in 2023, but only 13 showed up. Most of these teams had a blast and said they would return to race again. 

If you are interested in the event but don’t have a wife, don’t count yourself out. Despite the event’s name, you don’t actually have to be legally married to your partner. 

You can register for the wife-carrying competition at the Lac La Biche Agricultural Society’s website. The registration fee for teams is $25 and includes an Alberta Wife Carrying Championship participation medal.

LakeLand County Fair Wife Caryying Poster

The Lakeland Country Fair runs from July 12 to July 13. The wife-carrying competition kicks off on July 13 on the grounds of Lac La Biche’s Lakeland Agricom

If wife-carrying isn’t your speed, the Lakeland Country Fair is full of other activities, including the Horticulture Bench Show.

The Bench Show highlights the talents of local gardeners, artists, crafters, photographers, bakers, brewers, and others who compete for cash prizes and ribbons. 

Other competitive events at the fair include rodeos for bareback, saddle, and mini bronc riders. The fair will also have a children’s festival, barbeque, live music, an art show, and a country market. 

Ticket prices for the fair have not been announced, but admission was free last year. 

Nothing says romance like picking your wife up, trudging through an obstacle course, and enjoying a cold beer afterward. 

How Albertan is that?

So what are you waiting for?

Watch the results of the 2023 in the video below.

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