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Mercer County Fair – We’re Getting Close Now . . .

by Leeann Mione

HARRODSBURG, Ky. – Billed as the country’s oldest continuously running fair and horse show in the country, “Harrodsburg” (a.k.a. Mercer County Fair) draws a crowd every year, and every year it seems to be one of the most popular stops for the Saddlebred and Hackney communities on the road to Louisville.

This year, that couldn’t have been more true. It seemed that horses and ponies came out of the woodwork to show in front of the crowds and Judge Carl Irwin. From the 25 horse park pleasure class to the 24 horse Adult Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship and the nine entry Roadster Pony Championship and Five-Gaited Championship, the numbers were impressive across the board. But even more importantly, the quality was tremendous.

The show presents its own set of challenges when showing horses but that didn’t seem to dissuade anybody from bringing their novice or young horses to the show. The lights from the fair rides, the commotion from the crowds and the unique pace that only a fair horse show can seem to acquire, proved to be no problem again.

Irwin had his work cut out for him with big numbers in front of him time and time again but he kept things rolling along for the most part. Evening sessions were very long each evening, but perhaps some of that comes with the territory when showing at a county fair.

Saturday evening featured not only great championship competition but two important Hall of Fame Inductions. Bill W. Robinson along with Raymond and Lillian Shively were inducted with family and friends on hand.

For DeLovely Farm, Saturday evening’s championship session had to feel a little like déjà vu from Louisville last year. Todd Miles rode Enough About You to the Three-Gaited Championship for Lynda Norman and Callaway’s Ricky Ricardo to the Five-Gaited Championship for Theresa Vonderschmitt. Raymond Shively drove Power Ranger to the Road Horse To Bike Championship to add another open tricolor to the count for DeLovely.

Extremely hot temperatures, although uncomfortable, matched the unbelievably hot competition inside the ring and provided for many memorable moments for owners, trainers and exhibitors alike.

Brad Noel and William Dedman, as show chairmen, are responsible in large part to the success of the Mercer County Fair Horse Show and this year has to go down as one of the best in recent years.

David Collier announced the classes and Doug Shiflet captured winning moment after winning moment on film as official photographer. Richfield Video was the show’s videographer and LeMayne Ellis, DVM was the official veterinarian. Eddie Williams served as show farrier, Charlie Wilson was ringmaster and Gene Wright was the organist.

Horse shows are always a team effort and lots of different factors go in to making each one a success. It seems that if this year is any indication, Mercer County Fair Horse Show has found the right recipe for success to continue its long and grand tradition.



Saturday evening’s Five-Gaited Championship was a fitting end to a great week of competition. As the crowd rose, the strains of “My Old Kentucky Home” were heard in the background and the equine competitors hit the gate to much applause from a crowd that was anticipating a great class. The group didn’t disappoint.

The Echo Of Thunder and Merrill Murray were ready to go up against Harlem’s Go To Man with Larry Hodge, Reedann’s Talked About with Sandy Currier, Rinanti Cock Robin and Paul Cates, Callaway’s Ricky Ricardo with Todd Miles, Miss Genevieve with Steve Wheeler, Callaway’s Extra Extra with Melinda Moore, Red Hot & Bothered with Mark Turner and The Light O’ Love with Martin Teater. The group put on a great show in front of Judge Carl Irwin and each had their fair share of support from the crowd when they lined up to await the results.

When Irwin’s card was turned in, it was Callaway’s Ricky Ricardo and Todd Miles named to head to the winner’s circle and take the final victory pass for the week. Miles rode for owner Theresa Vonderschmitt to cap off a great week for her and DeLovely Farm. Miss Genevieve and Steve Wheeler were the reserve grand champions for Ginger and Alan Failor and they were followed in the ribbons by Callaway’s Extra Extra, The Echo Of Thunder, The Light O’ Love, Harlem’s Go To Man, Reedann’s Talked About and Rinanti Cock Robin.

Melinda Moore had already been to the winner’s circle in the five-gaited division by the time she rode in the Five-Gaited Championship. She took the blue ribbon in the competitive ladies class with Memorize for Hollett Farm.

Red Flame Thrower was on top of his game to keep Vonderschmitt on the winning end of things and they teamed up together to win the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship. Bring Out The Champagne and Jan Attinger were reserve grand champions under the direction of Mike Felty and came into the championship with the blue ribbon from the qualifier to their credit.

Will Harris and She’s Bedazzled have earned lots of top honors in their career together under the direction of Infinity Stables and they added another one at Mercer County. They topped a really nice Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Championship class. Sunken Treasure and Lindsey Shields finished with the reserve streamers under the direction of Wyatt DeHart.

Sheriff Gaines had a huge fan club dressed in matching T-shirts to show their support and they rushed to meet Todd Miles and Theresa Vonderschmitt’s young star when they topped a very competitive Junior Five-Gaited class.

Mike Tunstall took the victory pass in yet another of the division’s big, competitive classes when Roseridge’s All Mine was named the winner of the UPHA Five-Gaited Classic.

Stonecroft’s Rumor Has It and Larry Hodge had their work cut out for them when they faced a big group in the novice class but they went to the top of the card to earn the win for owner Jennie Garlington.

Revival Fire and Kelsey Herbert put on a good show to win the Five-Gaited Pony class and the night was even more special for Herbert as she celebrated her 17th birthday with a trip to the winner’s circle.



Todd Miles earned his second open championship victory when Enough About You took the tricolor in the Three-Gaited Championship for owner Lynda Norman. Three other teams put on a good show and worked hard to impress Judge Irwin but it was Java Chip and Mike Tunstall who finished in the reserve slot for owner Karen Blankenship Shumate. Day Of Serenity with Paul Cates and Mr. Revere with Annalize van der Walt claimed the final two ribbons.

High Spirit Farm had a big week at Mercer County under the direction of Mike McIntosh and by week’s end had several winning ribbons on the tack room wall including Miss Believin’s blue ribbon from the Ladies Three-Gaited class. Dee McNealy rode to the winner’s circle.

Ostentatiously and Deborah Visser made a single appearance at the fair and it was a good one. The team continued their successful season by topping a really nice Amateur Three-Gaited Championship under the direction of Kalarama Farm. Royal Sweet and Michelle Hartman also had a good go to finish as the reserve grand champions from DeLovely Farm.

April Hi Lite and Catherine Munsey teamed up to be the team to beat in the amateur qualifier and they topped a strong group of competitors under the direction of Melinda Moore.

Attaché’s Touched By An Angel won the junior exhibitor championship with Sarah Wood in the irons. They were followed in the ribbons by Sam’s Candygram and Samantha Rolfes who showed under the direction of Clem Lee. Romantic Manifesto and Victoria Willock represented Signature Stables with their win in the junior exhibitor qualifier. Chad Cole met them in the winner’s circle.

Can You Hear Me Now was the winner of the junior class with Todd Miles up for Steven and Terri Chancellor.

As in the five-gaited division, the novice horses came from everywhere to compete at Mercer County and their big class showcased a field of talented entries. Finest Material went to the top of the class with Chris Reiser up for Larry Nunley.

Santana’s Twist & Shout and Jenny Franson earned the blue ribbon in the Three-Gaited Pony class for owner Kolette Weaver.



The park division featured a single class but it was a good one and further proof of the competitiveness of the open park division this season. Tax Man and Melinda Moore once again took the blue ribbon for owner Jeff Councilman with a strong effort amongst a very competitive group.



The fine harness division showcased a great group especially in the division’s largest class, the two-year-old fine harness class. The young horses handled the bright lights well and put on a good show.

Simbara’s Sweet Lorraine has been at the top both under saddle and in harness and she took top honors in the Fine Harness Championship with Nelson Green driving for Mount Saddlebreds. Gerald Moores drove Periaptus Victorious for Frank Cook to earn the reserve grand championship title from Don Harris Stables. Unclaimed with Nancy Brannon and Cowboy Up with Sean Norris were third and fourth respectively.

Dances On Air won the amateur class with Sharla Deuschle driving under the Richlon South banner. Renee Lavery met the pair in the winner’s circle as trainer Lindsay Lavery prepared to show in the next class.

Oh So What earned lots of support from the crowd on the way to the winner’s circle with Melissa Moore in the junior class. Moore drove for owner A. E. Nelson.

Dena Lopez drove Supreme Spotlight to the win in the three-year-old class for Kay Marschel to continue Double D Ranch’s good week at Mercer County Fair.

Madeira’s Will had lots of people talking after taking on a big group and the unique challenges of the fair to earn the win in the two-year-old class with owner and trainer Paul Cates driving.



The road horse division pitted great driver against great driver and great horse against great horse across the board and even though the bike and wagon classes weren’t large, they were entertaining and gave a glimpse of what’s in store at Freedom Hall.

Raymond Shively and Power Ranger took the title and tricolor in the Roadster To Bike Championship for DeLovely Farm and continued to show why they have earned so many world titles together. Criminal Mischief and Rick Peel teamed up for Watermark Farm and were named the reserve grand champions. Jaguar and Jerry Mobley earned the final ribbon for Mr. and Mrs. Jack Mobley.

Sundance Image earned more than one blue ribbon at the fair, beginning with Wednesday evening’s open class. Les Cunningham turned in the winning drive for Judd Farms.

Holly Russell drove John T. Bert N Me to the blue ribbon in the ladies class under the direction of trainer Connie Smith.

State representative Milward Dedman added to his busy schedule by stopping in at Mercer County long enough to make the winning drive in the amateur class with BJ’s Hail Storm under the direction of Les Cunningham.

Sundance Image and Bryce Gomes won the youth class to add another blue to trainer Cunningham’s total in the division.

The novice class was well filled and featured a good group and when the card was turned in it was Dancin For Dollars and Steve Crabtree named to take the victory pass.

Quill obviously likes his new division this season and has already earned wins under saddle for Bill and Barbara Blacklaw. He added another win to his total when Melinda Moore rode for the blue in the big under saddle class.

Judy McNeish and Invincible Summer have been a much decorated team in the wagon division in their career together and they took on a veteran group in the Road Horse To Wagon class and came out on top under the direction of Raymond Shively.

Regal’s Miss Kate LF and Mike Cox earned the win in the Roadster Pony Championship to top a pair of strong competitors for Steve Rardin and Mike Cox. Turbo Blue and John Maloney were reserve and were followed by Cedar Creek’s Top Cat and Larry Bacon for Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gantley.

Georgia Blevins took the win in the competitive amateur class with Dun Haven Grandiose to keep Majestic Oaks good show going. Grandiose faced a strong group for the win.

Tyler Miles drove Cowboy Magic to the win in the AHHS Roadster Pony Youth Medallion class for owner Gabriella Flynn.

Annalize van der Walt sat behind Fire Devil for the win in the Junior/Limit Roadster Pony class for owner Bobbie Welch.

Connie Smith was back on top with Shooting Star. She drove her pony to the top of the card in the Roadster Pony to Wagon class. With the addition of the roadster pony to wagon division at Louisville this year, the class was a glimpse perhaps of what we will see in Freedom Hall.



Singing Hills Farm’s move to Kentucky for the summer has paid off in a big way and their good show at Mercer County Fair continued with Gene van der Walt’s winning drive in the Harness Pony Championship with Impress My Daddy. Nacho Mama and Christy Gantley have also been having a good season for Winding Creek Farm and they were right there to take the reserve streamers. Night Editor and Maureen Lydon finished with the blue ribbon in the open class for Bent Tree Farm.

General Mills was on top of his game to take the victory pass in the Hackney Pony Championship with Barbara Blacklaw driving from Singing Hills. Heartland Center Attraction, another West Coast competitor finished in second with Joy Lazarus driving for Gail Asch. Center Attraction had already won the open class with Lazarus earlier in the week.

Once Upon A Time and Nancy Lassiter teamed up to top the competitive Hackney Pony Pleasure Driving Championship under the direction of Patty Milligan after a winning appearance in the even bigger qualifier. Rumor Has It and Beth Jones put together the reserve grand championship effort for High Hopes Stables.



The five-gaited pleasure division featured a huge championship and adult class but Champagne Treat and Deborah Visser turned back all challengers to earn both wins for James Orr. All The Moves and Lindsay Sowell, showing from Infinity Stables, were the reserve grand champions after their strong effort. LA Boca Raton and Kelsey Olsen won the junior exhibitor class under the direction of Premier Stables.

The park pleasure division showcased an unbelievable group in the open class. Twenty-five horses came through the gate to try their skills in front of Irwin and the crowd. With such a big, talented group earning a ribbon was an accomplishment and when it was all said and done, it was Heirilee and Annalize van der Walt named to take the victory pass for Singing Hills. Raffle Ticket and Toni Knight were reserve in the big class for Susan Estes, and Callaway’s 49er was third with Alice Nunley showing from Chris Reiser Stables.

A smaller group returned for the Park Pleasure Championship. Smaller in numbers but not in talent and the group put on a good show for the crowd. This time it was Shady Creek’s Sensation and Eden Michael taking the tricolor streamers for owner Gayle Jones. George Foreman and Sandra Currier were reserve for Ed Perwien.

Currier headed to the winner’s circle with another Perwien entry in the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic. She rode Julio Iglesias to the blue ribbon for Bluebonnet Farm.

The adult show pleasure riders also faced an enormous class in their qualifier and this time Irwin called for a workout. Twenty-four teams came through the gate and after working both directions, Irwin kept 12 and excused the rest of the group. The 12 that remained put on a great show and nobody gave an inch.

The Muffin Man and Kim Langdon emerged on top after the workout to add the impressive win to their resume under the direction of Mike McIntosh. Worthy’s Independent Son and Sarah Crane took reserve for owner Carol McIvor showing from Autumn Hills. My One Night Stand and Lisa Schlesinger finished in the top three.

The adult championship showcased 13 teams and like the park pleasure championship, it was once again a great show. The Muffin Man made it a shutout with the winning effort and was followed in the ribbons by My One Night Stand and Schlesinger.

The junior exhibitors didn’t face as large a group for their championship but the quality and depth of their division was just as impressive. Sports Night and Jordon Mattingly have been having a great season and they put it all together in the championship to earn the impressive win from Infinity Stables. SS Lies And Alibis, with Caitlyn Cooper up, was reserve in the championship after winning the talent-filled 13 and under class from DeLovely Farm.

Breathe and Aliyah Asch were right on the money to top a strong group and take the blue in the 14-17 class under the direction of Rob and Jackie Tanner.

Holli McDowell and I’m Big-N-Rich won the show pleasure driving class under the direction of Lisa McMackin.



The country pleasure division, like the show pleasure division, continues to grow each year and Harrodsburg showcased a great group in both the adult and junior exhibitor divisions.

The adult championship was full of hard riding jockeys and talented equine stars. Sarah Russell rode Haunting to the impressive grand championship victory under the direction of Biggins Stables. Irish Epic and Cece Hagan, directed by Ray Yoder, put together the reserve effort in the championship.

Kim Skipton and Mad About You topped the very large and very deep adult class for Marcie Lafferty King. Haunting and Russell took the red ribbon and Hillcroft Her Highness and Misdee Wrigley claimed the yellow streamers for Hillcroft Farm.

Entries directed by Milo Jones had a great week at Mercer County Fair including Mr. Belaphona and Megan Weise. They came out on top in the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Championship amongst a strong group of competitors. Heirrelevant and Katelan Crabtree were reserve for owner Carol McIvor. Sing My Song and Kristen Smith, directed by Jo Cornell, won the big junior exhibitor qualifier.

Callaway’s Better Than Ever and Kathy Coleman won the Country Pleasure Driving Championship for owner Corinne Stith and were met in the winner’s circle by Milo Jones. Propane and Ashley Whitehurst, also directed by Jones, won the qualifier then returned in the championship to take the reserve title.

With Louisville fast approaching, the western pleasure class was surprisingly small but it also was full of top contenders and they worked hard to impress Irwin. Yellow Rose Starafar took the blue with Susann Strayer showing under the direction of Dena Lopez.



Avery Bul and The Rose Merchant won the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship under the direction of Patty Milligan to get the session started off right Saturday evening.

Amber Lynn Lowry and Maximum Bob won the 14-17 class from Shadow Run and Taylor Young won the 13 and under class. Young was instructed by Betsy Webb. Brooke Jacobs added another win to her resume with the win in the adult class with Callaway’s Show Me When.

Megan Todd and Whispering Oaks Ebony Lace teamed up for victory in the 17 and Under Challenge Cup. The 10 and Under Challenge Cup was the largest of the equitation division and it was another DeLovely victory when they lined up. Hunter Chancellor and Imagination Station topped the big class, followed by Ashlyn Cates and Limoges for reserve.

Ali Judah and Feng Shui, riding from Premier Stables, won the NHS Good Hands class to continue her winning season in the equitation division.

Anna Hormann, riding under the Shadow Run banner, won the 17 and Under Pleasure Equitation class with Jabez. Emily Abbott, instructed by her mother Kathy Conflenti, won the Saddle & Bridle Pleasure Medallion class with Walterway’s Redeemed.



Steven Davidson showed the winning Saddlebred yearling for owner JD Gardner in the in hand class. I’m All In went to the top of the class to edge out six other talented yearling entries.

Rudolph The Second was the winner of the Open Hackney Horse class with Morgan Reiser showing for Elizabeth Chelberg.

Dolf and Kensie Hamilton won the Open Pleasure class which did not include Saddlebreds.

This highlights the Mercer County Fair Horse Show. Complete results can be seen by clicking on SHOW RESULTS.

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