The Gate Crew
By Charlotte Stemmans Clavier
The Starter, the track official that presses the button to start each race, and his Crew assures the safety of both rider and steed for the start of each race. The start of each race is a very dangerous place, but with the Guidance of the Starter and his Crew a calamity at the beginning of the race is unusual.
It seems that everything in South Louisiana is unique. The “Gate Crew” at Evangeline Downs is no exception. With most horse race tracks in the country the “Gate Crew” changes regularly. Evangeline Downs in Carencro La opened in 1966 has only had three Starters to present. The first Starter was Preacher Harold. In 1971 he moved his skills to Jefferson Downs and Don Stemmans became starter. Stemmans was starter from 1971 to 1984, at which time Russell Comeaux took over the duties as Starter. Russell Comeaux made the move to Opelousas with the track and remains in that position today.
Recently the Old Gate Crew of Evangeline Downs from 1971 to 1984 had a reunion. These are True Horsemen.