The Southern Cross : April 2010
Page 24 April 2010 The Southern Cross www.adelaide.catholic.org.au sport For Maureen and Gordon Gow- Smith of Tea Tree Gully, the annual trek to the Oakbank Easter race carnival is about so much more than horse racing. Sure, they never miss the Great Eastern Steeple but what keeps them going back year after year is the great family atmosphere which is unlike that of any other race meeting. "For us it is about catching up with friends. Oakbank is really ver y special ... it's a real family event," Maureen explains. "It's lovely to see all those babies who have grown up over the years and they still keep coming back to Oakbank, now with their own children. Last year we had a dear old gentleman who was celebrating his 70th visit to Oakbank." This year, just like the past 30, Maureen and Gordon will pack up and head to the small Adelaide Hills town on the Sunday before Easter, returning the day after Easter Monday. In the lead up to the carnival they join the small band of volunteers who help to make Oakbank one of the greatest picnic race meetings in the world. Gordon is the club's historian and is kept busy fielding questions from the public, including enquiries about family members who were jockeys or trainers at past events. Maureen handles the many phone calls to the main office and "any other jobs that need to be done". For Maureen, her involvement with the race meeting continues a family tradition as she spent many years in her youth attending the event with her father. "I have always loved Oakbank. Besides being an icon for the State, it is a true picnic race meeting. "Families really look for ward to coming up here and some don't even see a race but they just sit around and relax. It has a totally different atmosphere than other race meetings and that's what makes Oakbank really special." Oakbank still favourite STAYERS: Maureen and Gordon Gow-Smith show the spirit that has kept them involved for 30 years at the Oakbank Easter Races. Photo: Kate Elmes For many Catholics with a passion for horse racing, the Easter break is a time to celebrate their faith while getting together with friends and family at the Oakbank races. LINDY McNAMARA chats with Maureen and Gordon Gow-Smith as they prepare for their 30th year of volunteering at this iconic South Australian event.