Draft horse show, fair festivities bring out crowds Sunday

The draft horse show brought many to the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair Sunday. (Emily Chappell / Carroll County Times)

The sound of horses neighing combined with the hard thud of hoofs on still-damp mud. The air was thick after hours of rain the night before, but the sun shone on, and people piled into the fairgrounds.

Announcer Bob Shirley's voice boomed over the loudspeaker. He alternated between giving instructions to those competing, and giving descriptions of the horses those competitors showed.


The Draft Horse Show kicked off at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair. And with it, came the crowds for another day of farm life.

For anyone who's been to county fair events before, Shirley's narration over the event should be familiar. He's been involved in the county fair since the 1950s, the Winfield resident said.


It's an event people tend to enjoy, Judge Ryan Mullen, from West Virginia, said.

"Just to see the big horses and how gentle they are in comparison," he added.

They have a lot of power, but are still controlled, Mullen, who is also vice president of Clydesdale Breeders of the USA, said. Clydsdale horses and Belgian horses are among the breeds that fit into the draft horse category.

Shirley likes these shows, too. He grew up with his dad's draft horses, and knows how much work goes into training them.


"I always enjoy good horses and good people," he added.

While Shirley's seen a horse or two in his time, others sitting outside the Buck Miller Arena Sunday were first-time fairgoers.

Jamey and Christy Tess, of Finksburg, brought their two boys to see the animals. The boys — Jack, 5, and Troy, 3 — sat on wooden bleachers on a hill overlooking the arena, pointing out their favorite horses. The black ones, the ones speckled gray — they loved every minute, smiling and guessing which horse might win.

Jack especially liked that in the olden days, big horses like those shown Sunday used to carry knights.

But it's more than just a love of horses.

The Tess boys want to be cowboys one day, and while they haven't yet ridden a horse, it was on their to-do lists, Christy Tess said. Plus, Jamey Tess said, getting involved in animals, and maybe 4-H, is something they could see the boys doing when they're a little older.

"I think this is a snapshot (of) things to come for them" he added.

Sunday's schedule included pig racing, pony rides and parades. Lines wrapped through the grounds as people waited for their pit beef, their ice cream, their popcorn.

But as the night came to a close, one thing was on the mind of many: the Ms. Carroll County Farm Bureau Contest. This year, two young women fought for first using their agricultural backgrounds.

Katelynn Shower, 19, of Hampstead, took first.

Winning felt good, she said, especially because she'd considered trying out last year, but didn't.

"I've been living on a farm since I was little, so agriculture means a lot to me," Shower added.

Despite losing, MaryGrace Hartzog, 17, of Sykesville, held out hope for next year. The event's a lot of fun, she said.

And most importantly, it empowers girls.

"It promotes women in agriculture, Hartzog said.




If you go

Monday at the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair

Master of Chainsaw Carver (Marty Long), 12 p.m., Vendor Area

Mechanical Bull Rides, 4 to 9 p.m., Vendor Area

Southern Barnyard Pig Racing, 4:30 p.m., Vendor Area

Mini Fashion Review, 5 p.m., Activity Tent

Be a Farmer Contest, 6 p.m., Vendor Area

Amish Outlaws (Paid Event), 7 p.m, Finch Stage