A TOUGH PULL
LANCASTER – Flying dirt and loud snorts filled the air Tuesday morning at the Fairfield County Fair’s annual horse pull. Blue skies and changing leaves graced the 163rd Fairfield County Fair, whose horse pull competition attracts equine enthusiasts from all over the nation.
“Horse Pulling” competition has been around a long time, according to iowadrafthorse.com. Nobody knows where or when the first “contest” was held but one can be sure that it originated long ago with one horseman stating that his horse can pull more weight than his neighbor’s horse. In order to prove it, there needed to be an organized event and of course the word spread about it and other people would come observe and congratulate the winner.
Since that first “unknown” horse pulling contest, the sport of horse pulling has come a long way. Of course, now there are rules, regulations, associations, national rankings, etc.
Conditioning a horse to prepare for a pulling event is similar to a weight lifter training for competition. A draft horse must be "conditioned" to pull a heavy load—literally thousands of pounds--a short distance rather than conditioning to pull a lighter load a longer distance over a longer period of time, like doing farm work with a team. If a horse is properly conditioned, pulling a heavy load is not harmful to them; it is what a draft horse was meant to do.
The Mahoney Family won the heavyweight horse pulling competition Tuesday, followed by the Burger & McIntire team in second place and Nell Bragg in third.
Jason O’Neille & Larry Evans from Dry Ridge, Ky. won first in the lightweight horse pull competition followed by the Beeman & Koucher team in second place and David Squires in third.
According to the fair’s website, the first Fairfield County Fair was held at Lancaster, during the second week of October, 1851, in a field owned by John Reber. This location was west of North Columbus Street and south of the Reservoir. The first exhibition was quite successful and, consequently, Reber was vested with the power to purchase a permanent Fairground.
Reber purchased approximately fourteen acres lying at the foot of Mt. Pleasant on its western side and north of Lundy’s Lane‚ (now East Fair Avenue). The 1852 Fair was held on the new location.
As the purpose of the society was the improvement of agriculture and domestic manufacture, cash premiums were offered for the best livestock, grain, vegetables and other products of the home and shops.
By 1876 the fairgrounds had expanded to 22 acres with the following buildings thereon: two amphitheaters, each 104 feet in length, a floral hall, livestock stalls, a bandstand and other miscellaneous structures.
Fairfield County is the last county fairs in the state for the season, but fair director Dave Benson said the October opennot ing makes perfect sense. He explained that produce is at its peak in October and farmers historically have had time to participate in the fair following harvest. So, it’s better to hold the fair in autumn than in the middle of summer, when produce is still growing and those involved in agriculture are extremely busy.
This year’s fair runs from Oct. 6 to 12.