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Festivals & Events, Vendors & Entertainers

Horse Events for a Fair, Festival or Event
by W.G. Colburn, Logan County Fair

Many classes of "Horse Events" are available for fairs and festivals. A sampling of suggestions would be: Society Horse Shows for Juniors and Adults, Rodeos, Horse and Mule Pulls, Draft Horse Shows, Morgan Horse Shows, Appaloosa Horse Shows, Quarter Horse Shows, Cutting Horse Shows, 4-H Horse Shows, Thoroughbred Horse Races, Quarter Horse Races, and Standardbred Horse Races, just to name a few of the many possibilities you have if you should decide to have a horse event at your fair or festival.

Once you decide a horse event is the program you want for an afternoon or evening show, you must then get in touch with the particular affiliation for the type of event you want to have. Perhaps you have someone in your local community who has the type of horse for the event you choose or can put you in touch with the correct affiliation.

A phone call to your state Department of Agriculture would be the next step in locating the correct organization to contact. In some places, there are groups who put on a show on their own, although most people, I think, belong to a sponsoring organization. Horse events that award points, such as rodeos, should be booked through booking agencies handling rodeos. Thoroughbred and Standardbred races would require a track, usually one-half mile.

Now that you have contacted your affiliation group and know what is expected of you to sponsor this event, you may want to fi nd various businesses or individuals to sponsor trophies for your event. Being a sponsor of a trophy helps to interest local people in your show, especially if the sponsors are allowed to present the trophies to the winners. Having sponsors also helps to defray some of the cost of a show. During the event, sponsors should be mentioned or "plugged" every chance you get, because they are helping you to make your show a success.

The next step would be to obtain officials for your horse event. No matter what the event you choose to have, a judge is a necessity. Other offi cials who could be needed, depending on what affi liation you choose, would be a clerk to keep the records, someone to take your entries, collect your entry fees, time your event, be your announcer, and if the event is a race, you would need someone to start your races, either a starting gate for the Thoroughbreds or a mobile starting gate in the case of the Standardbred horses.

Also needed is a photo finish service, which takes photos of the horses crossing the finish line, so that a winner is established without any doubt. If your event is Standardbred Racing, a licensed charter is also needed; their purpose being to make a record of where each horse was at the quarter mile, half mile, three quarter mile, stretch, and fi nish line, and what that horse was doing.

All of the charter's work goes on the Eligibility Papers for each horse and that paper follows that horse wherever it goes to race. The affi liation you choose usually has a list of offi cials and will help you to obtain the ones you need. There is normally a charge for the offi cials and you would want to check on this to be sure you have this in your budget.

Your local fair or festival may have their own rules for any event they sponsor. When you choose your affiliation for your horse event, their rules may supersede your rules. This is something you would want to get established before your event starts.
  • Any horse event you elect to have requires you to give your time and thought to it-do you have stalls for the horses?
  • Are they sturdy enough to hold them?
  • Will people come to your show the day before in a motor home or trailer that requires an electrical hook-up and do you have that available?
  • Do you have a place where water is available for both the horses and the people?
  • Are there restroom facilities available?
  • If the event you choose will take place in one afternoon, do you have ample room for the show and room for the trucks and trailers to be nearby to be used as tie-ups for the horses?
  • If your event is a rodeo, do you have ample room for the chutes and pens, with plenty of space for the event to take place?
  • Most important of all, do you have a safe, well-located spot for spectators? After all they will be paying for their spot and you do hope to have them back for next year's show.
Now we have all the groundwork laid for our horse event except for one little matter-how are we to get entries? If no one knows about our show, we won't have anyone there to participate.

Advertising your show is the only way to attract entries; but where to advertise?

Most of the horse affiliations publish a magazine or a newsletter to their members. Be sure to put a timely ad in the current issue giving participants time to enter their horse or horses. Your local and surrounding newspapers and radio stations can be a big help with advertising.

Among horse people, word of mouth is another way of getting the word out about your show or race. Posters or letters sent to those who show the type of horses you are having is another way of getting entries. Some shows or races have early deadlines for entries. Make this clear in advertising if that is the case with your event.

Another thought. Through the years, we have noticed, in horse events, there is a trend for the whole family to participate. When you schedule your events, try to include events for boys, girls, moms and dads, young and old alike. Try to come up with some original events of your own. That will make your show special and the participants will remember it next year when it comes time for your show.

If you should decide to host your very first horse event, don't hesitate to ask people who have had some experience for some suggestions and help. Always remember, hands-on experience is still the best teacher.

Planning a Successful Event,
Table of Contents

1. Planning
2. Organizing
3. Fundraising
4. Corporate Sponsorship
5. Promotion
6. Buying Media
7. Setting the Image of the Event
8. Operating
9. Buying Music Acts
10. Grounds Attractions
11. Sound, Lighting & Staging
12. Sample Artist Contract and Rider
13. From the Entertainers View
14. Backstage Hospitality
15. Talent Contests
16. Queen Contests
17. Parades
18. Horse Events
19. Rodeo's and Horse Events
20. Farm Youth Program
21. Choosing a Carnival
22. Concessions
23. Legalities and Risk Management
24. Event Insurance
25. Royalties
26. Location/Physical Facilities
27. Grounds and Facilities
28. Office and Staffing
29. Tractor Pulls
30. Estimating Crowd Attendance
31. Festival Evaluation
32. Event Impact Studies
33. Conclusion, Final Word

12 Ways to Kill an Event

Bibliography: Sources and Contributors