ARCOLA – The only trade show in the world focusing on new equipment designed specifically for farming with horses is scheduled to get under way at the Vernon Yoder farm northwest of Arcola on Friday and Saturday.
This is the second time the Horse Progress Days has been held at Yoder's farm. The last time, in 2002, it drew 6,000 people. This year's show is expected to draw as many or more.
Yoder said people attend from all over the country, and last time, the event drew a dozen or so from Europe.
"It's a lot of fun," Yoder said. "And it's a different world."
He said it's not just Amish who are interested in farming with horses.
"We got a lot of your people," Yoder said. "People who own 30 to 40 acres and are farming totally with horses. One couple came last time from New York who had high-tech jobs, but they farm with horses."
The horse-powered farming and logging equipment will be demonstrated by a variety of breeds of draft horses and mules, some working in the field and some presented in a parade of breeds.
The show will include horses hitched from singles to 12-up as they demonstrate plowing, hay making, produce planting and lots of other farm-related activities.
A special attraction is Priefert's Texas Thunder Percheron Draft Horse Hitch, which has some of the largest draft horses in the world.
The schedule begins at 8 a.m. on both days with a seminar by horse trainer Cathy Zahm on round-pen training. Field work demonstrations begin at 9 a.m.
Seminars will be held throughout both days on topics such as organic farming, horse dentistry, harnessing and hitching and horse confirmation.
The highlight of both days will be the noon demonstration of Priefert's Texas Thunder team. The afternoon will feature equipment demonstrations for produce farming, haymaking and horse logging.
At 5:30 p.m., there will be a breed presentation with Percherons, Clydesdale, Belgians, Haflingers, spotted draft horses and miniature horses. Many of those demos will be 6-hitch teams.
Local schools will be selling sandwiches and homemade ice cream. Scores of vendors will be on the site as well.
The cost of admission is $6 a day or $10 for both days. Small children are free.
Yoder said he and Neil Hostetler of rural Arthur have organized the local show with the help of Levi Herschberger and Willis Schrock, both of Arthur, and hundreds of volunteers.
Horse Progress Days is a national event that is held alternatively in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. Hostetler is on the board of directors.