MOUNT VERNON — The rumor was out this winter that the draft horse presence at the Knox County Fair would be mostly eliminated. They were evicted from their barn, so the story went, because it was needed for other animals.
The draft horse show would instead be a one-day truck-in event.
That turned out not to be the case.
Meetings did take place between the draft horse people and the Fair Board and some changes have been made to save the Fair Board some money.
Lauren Smith, who chairs the Fair Board’s Horse Committee said they have been looking at expenses and ways to save money on the fair. The draft horse show, she said, was costing the Fair Board close to $10,000, but was bringing in only about $1,000 in sponsorships.
Both the Central Ohio Draft Horse Association and the Fair Board confirmed that meetings were held about the show and the groups agreed on some changes. Some breeds have been unrepresented at the fair in recent years and some show categories were attracting single entrants.
Smith said categories were redesigned to attract more entries, classes with only single entries will not pay first place premiums and premiums in general were reduced to the level paid at other fairs. Halter and hitch classes have traditionally been the most popular classes and those remain.
“The cost of the shows were starting to threaten our support for the Junior Fair Draft Horse Show and we didn’t want that to happen,” Smith said.
Kristina Stagg, with the Draft Horse Association, confirmed that changes are being made in the draft horse show and they are working to find more sponsors and to generate better audiences at the shows.
She said it was money that drove the possible changes that would have made the draft horse show a single-day event.
The Fair Board and the Draft Horse Association disagree on how far things went in terms of vacating and reallocating space. The bottom line is that the draft horses will be back, in their traditional barn and some changes have been made that both parties hope will help the draft horse show, and that support for the Junior Fair Show will continue.
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