While some producers would cringe at the thought of hosting barrel races at their home, Mikey and Lea Callahan of Union, South Carolina, are living the dream welcoming thousands of barrel racers into their home each year, which they proudly call Aloha Acres.

Named after their wedding in Hawaii in 2018, Aloha Acres represents a dream that turned into a reality — a plot of land once covered in trees turned into not only a private property that houses the Callahans’ personal barrel horses, but also a venue that hosts a plethora of races boasting fellowship and big payouts, attracting barrel racers from across the country.

However, disaster struck in 2021 when the covered arena collapsed due to an ice storm just shortly after Aloha Acres began hosting and producing barrel races.

“At first, it was really hard to not be discouraged and throw the towel in when the arena collapsed. We had a good reaction to the barrel races we had just started producing, and I really wanted to continue. Thanks to the support of our friends, family, and sponsors, we were able to rebuild in 2022 and began having barrel races that same year,” Mikey said. 

Mikey’s business model incorporates no added fees with the opportunity to run for the same payout offered at large multi-day events, with the Callahans’ shows being only one day so competitors do not have the added expenses of stalls, shavings and hotels. 

“My focus with producing barrel races is not to get rich, but to produce a race that is unlike any other. I want to produce races that don’t require a lot of expenses from competitors but have the same opportunity as a weekend shows to win a lot of money. I always pay back at least 80%. I don’t charge office or late fees, because I own the venue,” Mikey explained. 

A favorite for the local barrel racers, Aloha Acres is the place to be for a weekend barrel race. Leading barrel horse trainers such as Leslie Willis and Craig Brooks are frequent visitors of the covered arena, but the barrel races in the small town of Union, South Carolina, have since attracted barrel racers from across the Southeast and even into Texas with their Put Up or Shut Up Futurity in January and their recent Money Talks Slot Race on July 1.

Brian Wheeler in award photo at Aloha Acres
The 10-hour drive paid off for Brian Wheeler of Summit, Mississippi, who posted the fastest time of the $5,000-added 100% pay-back Aloha Acres Put Up or Shut Up Futurity on January 28, 2023, with a 15.068 aboard 2019 mare Feelin Peachy (Heavenly Firewater x SX Dr Peacharita x Dr Nick Bar), owned by Mission Ranch, LLC. The dynamic duo won $4,760 in just one run for their efforts. Photo by Jim Killian Photography

Brian Wheeler from Summit, Mississippi, traveled 10 hours to Aloha Acres on January 28 to compete in the one-day Put Up or Shut Up Futurity. The one-round futurity with $5,000 added and 100% payback paid $4,760 for Wheeler’s winning run on 2019 mare Feelin Peachy (Heavenly Firewater x SX Dr Peacharita x Dr Nick Bar), owned by Mission Ranch, LLC.

Professional futurity horse trainer and multiple slot race winner Ryann Pedone of Sunset, Texas, traveled over 15 hours to attend the Money Talks Slot Race. 

“It is really cool to see barrel racers coming from farther than the Southeast to attend our races. Although we don’t have stalls available on site, there are nearby stalling accommodations for those who want to attend from out of state,” Mikey said. 

Dondi Crosby Aloha Acres award photo
Professional barrel racer Dondi Crosby of Walterboro, South Carolina, topped the leaderboard with a 14.639 in the knife fight of a horse race to win the Aloha Acres Money Talks Slot Race and Open on July 1 riding 2015 gelding THG ZZ Royal Hammer (Zippy Zevi Dasher x Quick Dash Hancock x Royal Quick Dash), who was trained and campaigned by professional futurity trainer Brandon Cullins. The $30,920 win was sentimental to Crosby, as her late father purchased “Hammer” for her several years ago. Photo by Jim Killian Photography

The first annual Money Talks Slot Race was a huge success with 95% payback, paying out a total of over $142,000 in just one day July 1.

Professional barrel racer Dondi Crosby from Walterboro, South Carolina, clinched the win in the Slot Race and Open Race to cash a $30,920 check aboard 2015 gelding THG ZZ Royal Hammer (Zippy Zevi Dasher x Quick Dash Hancock x Royal Quick Dash), who was trained and campaigned by EquiStat $1.5 million  professional futurity horse trainer Brandon Cullins.

—> Watch “Hammer” in Brandon Cullins Training Barrel Horses Videos

“I am really grateful for the opportunity to run for this kind of added money so close to home. My gelding “Hammer” isn’t in any incentives, so it’s amazing to win so much money on him and increase his lifetime earnings because of the races at Aloha Acres. My dad passed away a year ago, and he bought Hammer for me, so Hammer owes me nothing,” Crosby said. 

Aside from the futurity and slot race, Aloha Acres produces weekly barrel races which offer a 3D High Stakes and 4D Open, in which competitors can roll their time over from the High Stakes to the Open for the opportunity to compete for more added money. 

At the completion of a series of weekly barrel races, Callahan hosted a Big Money Club Finals Race on June 24 for those who had attended four races throughout the series. Competitors also had an option to buy in for each race missed to qualify for the Finals.

Craig Brooks, an EquiStat $1.4 million futurity horse trainer from Eastanollee, Georgia, posted the fastest time of the one-day Finals aboard 2023 futurity horse This Guys Flying (Guys Canyon Moon x Regal Flying x Dash Ta Fame), owned by Mike and Kellie Sokol. Brooks won $6,059 and a Mike Green Custom Saddle in one run aboard the 2019 gelding for winning both the High Stakes, Open and Member side-pot.

“Not only does Aloha Acres produce great-paying barrel races in the Southeast, but they also work very hard to accommodate the wishes and requests of the barrel racers, whether it’s the ground, format or parking. They are always working to make improvements and asking for opinions regarding the barrel races,” Brooks explained. “Sometimes I take not only one, but two, trailers of horses to the races, because they do a great job of having the ground and clocks ready for trainers to exhibition colts, which is a crucial part of getting futurity horses ready.” 

Craig Brooks Aloha Acres award photo
Craig Brooks of Eastanollee, Georgia, scorched a 14.720 for the 2023 Aloha Acres Big Money Club Finals Race on June 24, in which the professional futurity horse trainer won both the High Stakes and Open races as well as the Member side-pot atop 4-year-old futurity horse This Guys Flying (Guys Canyon Moon x Regal Flying x Dash Ta Fame), owned by Mike and Kellie Sokol. The impressive team was awarded $6,059 and a Mike Green Custom Saddle for their fast time outrunning the Open horses. Photo by Jim Killian Photography

Mikey said someday a stall barn to host those coming from out of state may be in the picture, but for now he plans to continue keeping it exclusive to how it is. 

“We really enjoy the fellowship of the races. Typically, we have anywhere from 75-100 spectators at the barrel races, and we have great people who attend our races as competitors. It’s really a lot of fun,” Mikey said. 

Mikey commended the help and support system of people who make the Aloha Acres barrel races possible, from the office staff to tractor drivers and announcers. Mikey’s future goals for Aloha Acres include continued facility improvements and making the barrel races bigger and better with more added money.

“None of this would be possible at Aloha Acres without my friends, family, and sponsors. Thank you to each and every person who helps with the races and sponsors them to make them successful,” Mikey praised. “My mom passed away the day of the Finals this year, and she is the reason that the arena stands. I could never be more grateful for her. She worked the gate at every show, and we will sure miss her.”

2023 Aloha Acres Money Talks Slot Race Results


1st: Dondi Crosby, THG ZZ Royal Hammer, 14.639, $29,754

2nd: Jimmy Cagle, One Slick Czar, 14.662, $19,836

3rd: Josie Thompson, TF Famous Sparky, 14.669, $10,734

4th: Chloe Gray, Heavenly Red, 14.684, $10,734

5th: Ryann Pedone, Mister Tres 14.694, $7,438


1st: Louis Fincher, VF He Is On Fire, 15.149, $17,100

2nd: Lee Ed Hurst, Johnny B Famous, 15.159, $12,825

3rd: Lee Ed Hurst, James Fame, 15.166, $8,550

4th: Ryann Pedone, Bayou At The Bar, 15.174, $4,275


1st: Madison Murphy, Red Smashed Tater, 15.651, $8,500

2nd: Emily Gaskins, Easy Fire Fox, 15.657, $6,498

3rd: Hope Dunn, Sassy Fire Bug With A Jet, 15.675, $2,052


Morgan Anderson is a professional futurity barrel horse trainer and contributor to Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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