GOSHEN — A tradition that was started nine years ago with one hitch at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair parade continues to grow.
Fair board member Terry Shewmaker said he expects the parade to include 20 hitches this year. All four breeds of draft horses will be represented in the parade: Hammersmith Belgians, Percherons, Shires and Clydesdales.
The horses come from different farms, including some in Defiance, Ohio; Belleville, Mich.; Yukon, Okla.; and parts of Indiana.
The horses will be staying at one of the barns on the fairgrounds for the entire week. They will be on display at the fair’s barn at the corner of Poyser Pathway and Pecan Street, just north of the grandstand.
Shewmaker and board member Barney Beer took over the draft horse barn in 2004 and have made changes so people had a better chance of seeing the horses.
“It’s amazing the crowd that they draw when they are hitching,” Shewmaker said.
The feedback from those visiting the fair and seeing the horses has been positive, and the number of people visiting has grown over the years, he said.
“Early on we used to keep track of how many people went through the barn per minute, and it’s just amazing,” he said. “It’s a constant stream. It’s very busy.”
Shewmaker said the plan is to hitch up all the horses and do an exhibition drive once a day Friday and Saturday, July 19-20, and then Monday through Wednesday, July 22-24. The exhibition drives will take place before the grandstand show each day.
“It’s good for everyone, because the people get to see the horses pulling the wagon, and the horses get out of their stall and do a little bit of exercise,” Shewmaker said.