Horse Progress Days set for June 29 & 30

June 29, 2018

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

The 25th annual Horse Progress Days will be held June 29 and 30 just east of Clare at Gateway Acres, the Alvin Yoder Jr. Farm (7656 East Colonville Road).
The event will open at 7:45 a.m. each day.

A special bus tour of area farms and businesses is scheduled on Thursday beginning at 8 a.m. Reservations for the tour, which includes a noon meal, can be made by calling 989-386-9082.

Horse Progress Days, which rotates through Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Northern Indiana, Southern Indiana and Pennsylvania each year, was last held in Clare in 2012 at the same location.

Thousands of visitors are expected to attend this year’s event.

6-22-18 Horse Progress Days 05

“This is truly a one-of-a-kind event,” Marketing Director Dale K. Stoltzfus of Leota, PA said. “There’s nothing else anywhere in the world that comes close to it in terms of attendance and support by the manufacturers.”

A board of directors was established around the year 2000. Stoltzfus is the only remaining member of the original board.

He said, “The event was and is meant to provide a place where newly manufactured horse drawn equipment can be demonstrated in actual field conditions behind real horses. This is not an ‘old time farm days.’ It is meant to provide support for those from all walks of life who wish to consider horse farming for economic and practical reasons.”

In this year’s publication of the event, Stoltzfus writes, “This year marks the twenty-fifth consecutive year the Horse Progress Days has been held.”

He said Horse progress Days has developed in interesting and unexpected ways. “It would be easy to think of at least a dozen different practices or offerings, initiated by planners in the various communities where it is held that have become part of it during the past 25 years and are now part of its fabric.”

On their 20th anniversary, Stoltzfus wrote, “Who would ever have thought that a work horse event could have been undertaken and last for … years and not only last, but thrive, gaining stature in the agricultural world from year to year, but here we are.”

In 2014 Stoltzfus wrote about the history of Horse Progress Days.

Horse Progress Days was begun in the summer of 1994. The very first event took place at the farm of a man named Elmer Lapp, now deceased. His farm address was Kinzers, PA. Kinzers is a small village in Lancaster County on Old Lincoln Highway.

Mr. Lapp could have chosen to farm with tractors, but he was a lifetime horse farmer and a breeder of Belgian Draft Horses. He had observed some of the newly manufactured horse drawn farming equipment that was being produced in Amish farm shops in his neighborhood and determined that more horse farmers and potential horse farmers would benefit from an event that would demonstrate the equipment in actual field conditions, behind real horses. So he presented his idea to the North American Horse and Mule Association at their annual meeting.

Maurice Telleen, editor of The Draft Horse Publication called The Draft Horse Journal was there. Maury, as he is affectionately called by his friends, gave his whole hearted support to the idea and covered it faithfully in his magazine year after year.

Some of Elmer Lapp’s inspiration for Horse Progress Days may have come from a similar event held in Rock Springs, PA, not too far from his farm. But this other event featured big tractors and big tractor equipment; it is called Ag Progress Days and is managed by the Penn State University.

He listed some of those who benefit for all the effort that goes into Horse Progress Days.

“High on the list of beneficiaries are the practicing farmers who show up to see the equipment working,” he said. “Not all of the equipment hauled to the event (at great cost to the manufacturers) is sold there, but sales are always brisk. And the benefits of exposure of the equipment to those who do and would (like to) use it is immeasurable.”

In a 2012 article he said, “The activities are planned in such a way that all genders and ages will find something of value and interest. There are seminars, demonstrations and clinics planned, all to promote small, sustainable farming practices.”

The event’s General Coordinator John Paul Kauffman welcomes one and all to Horse Progress Days this year. He wrote, “Programming each day that appeals to whole families include a Pony Express in the morning, round pen training sessions throughout the day, a homemaker section with live demonstrations, children’s activities and of course the hallmark of Hose Progress Days; demonstrations of newly manufactured horse drawn farming equipment in real field conditions behind real horses.”

Horse Progress days this weekend will include a vendor area where visitors might just find that unique item they’ve been searching for.

The tentative daily schedule of events includes an opening presentation at 8 a.m.; field demonstrations and produce demonstrations beginning at 9 a.m.; a lunch break and International presentation at noon; and beginning at 1 p.m. haying demonstrations with mowers from small to large and followed by rakes and balers, bale movers and wrappers.

A parade of breeds will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday and at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Seminars will take place throughout each day in the seminar area, the round pen and the produce area.

A more complete schedule will be available at the gate.

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