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Mercer County Fair Showcases Top Talent for the 182nd Time

by Leeann Mione

HARRODSBURG, Ky. – This year’s Mercer County Fair Horse Show once again welcomed Saddlebreds, Hackneys, roadsters and Friesians to the oldest continuously running horse show in the United States. The quaintness and charm of this show always makes it a popular stop for the Kentucky crowd and barns from throughout the region who want to compete at a competitive show yet have some fun at the same time.

Rain early in the week provided some challenges with the footing and in fact, the Wednesday evening session was cancelled and moved to Thursday afternoon. Ring conditions got better each day and by Saturday night, the footing was almost back to normal. The rain predicted for Saturday never materialized and Mother Nature provided a beautiful weather for the final championship session.

Saturday night is traditionally an extra special night with hall of fame inductions a part of the schedule and this year Donna Moore and James Edward Martin were inducted into the Mercer County Fair Horse Show Hall Of Fame (see separate edit this issue).

The evening began with the first ever stick horse class which drew a big group of little ones and the class was a huge hit with the crowd. From the stick horse to the lead line class, the youngest competitors kicked things off in fine fashion to lead into an evening of great competition.

Friday evening, Mercer County Fair Horse Show hosted its first ever retirement. The inimitable Power Ranger and Raymond Shively made their final show ring appearance in front of the knowledgeable and appreciative crowd who stood on their feet as the eight times world’s champion turned to face the crowd at the out gate with Shively and said farewell to a legendary career. Power Ranger would certainly have been deserving of a retirement ceremony in Freedom Hall, but that wasn’t the right fit. Mercer County Fair was where his show ring career began and it was fitting that it ended in the same place (see separate edit this issue).

"It meant a lot to me to be able to retire Power Ranger here," said Shively. "This is where he came from, he has a lot of history here with the Freemans, Jack Rabbit and the Dedmans.

"We thought about retiring him at Louisville, but this is my favorite horse show and this crowd has been loyal to him from the beginning. This really was the perfect place for him to say goodbye to the show ring."

James Hale made the trip from Columbiana, Ala., to judge all classes, July 20-25, and he had several classes to evaluate that were very large including the largest class of the show, the Adult Country Pleasure qualifier which hosted 20 hard working teams. Kaitlin Whatley and Carolina Clay picked up the blue in that class under the direction of DeLovely Farm.

Hale was joined in center ring by announcer David Collier, ringmaster Charlie Wilson, organist Gene Wright and photographer Doug Shiflet. Farrier Eddie Williams was called upon a few times to replace lost shoes and Richfield Video camera operators took their places ringside to capture the action as official videographers.

Show Manager Brad Noel was rarely in the same place twice while he worked to make sure things ran smoothly and customers were satisfied. Board President Dr. LeMayne Ellis, DVM also served as the official veterinarian. As president of the Mercer County Fair and Horse Show Board Of Directors, Ellis works tirelessly all year long with board members and volunteers from throughout the community to make the show better each year.

As the road to Louisville gets shorter and shorter, Harrodsburg was once again an important stop along the way. Judging by the quality of entries, competition on the green shavings promises to be first rate.

Saturday evening’s Five-Gaited Championship was a terrific class with nine top teams taking on the challenge. One of the unique things about the Mercer County Fair show is that in each class, entries are announced to the crowd as they come through the gate.

While My Old Kentucky Home was sung, Rob Byers and Ashlynn’s Voodoo Charm, winners of the 11-entry novice class, were the first ones in the gate. They were followed by Memorize, with Nelson Green; Callaway’s Champ Clark, with Clark Clouse; Hong Kong Fuey, with Billy Jarrell; Attache’s Crown Royal, with Melinda Moore; Harlem’s Main Event, with Larry Hodge; Imperiaptor, with Mitch Clark; Vitruvean Man, with Tammy Devore and Rock This Town with George Knight.

The crowd settled in for what they knew was going to be a very competitive class and very quickly picked their favorites. The great group put on a terrific show for the crowd and several of the top contenders battled it out and made good pass after good pass. Hale turned in his card and when results were announced it was the powerful Attache’s Crown Royal named to take the title for Dr. Scott and Annika Bruggeworth. Callaway’s Champ Clark and Clark Clouse exited with the reserve streamers and their share of crowd support for Bullet Concrete Materials.

Deborah Butler made the trip to Harrodsburg with her entries and she picked up the blue in the ladies class with Pour Some Sugar On Me in their only appearance from DeLovely.

A trio of top contenders hit the ring for the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship, but Kalarama’s Ultimate Choice, with Deborah Visser up, couldn’t be denied. They made the victory pass for owners The Ultimate Choice Group after winning the qualifier Tuesday evening. Last Serenade and owner Vicki Reed were next in line for a ribbon under the direction of Bill and Kris Knight.

Justin Cowley did a great job putting Adrenaline Rush in the right spot and Hale named them the Amateur Five-Gaited Gentlemen’s champions for Paul and Leetta Beachum.

Qualifier winner Platinum’s New Look and Alpha Bravo battled it out for the top two ribbons in the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited Championship with Hunter Chancellor and Alex Nelson up, respectively. Tonto and Chancellor turned in a picture perfect effort to take the tricolor and Nelson had his teammate in good order to take the reserve title under the direction of Mitch Clark.

A nice group of four-year-olds put on a show in the Junior Five-Gaited class and once again Melinda Moore headed to center ring to pick up the blue. She rode Chardonnay’s Firestorm to the win for Poser Farm.

The three-year-old gaited horses added to the depth and quality of the young horses at Harrodsburg and a nice group competed for the blue. The Nashville Predator and Todd Miles were victorious in the end for DeLovely Farm.

Meghan Prouty and Undulata’s Sweet Heir were met by trainer Billy Jarrell when Hale named them the winners of the limit class. Melissa Johnson led her group to a successful show at the fair including Foster Roberts’s win with Mango Momma in the Five-Gaited Pony class.

The Three-Gaited Championship, while not as large as the gaited stake, was packed with quality. Five beautiful walk-trots put on a great class and when the card was turned in, it was He’s A Jim Dandy named to take the tricolor with Clouse riding for Bullet Concrete Materials. Callaway’s Emancipation and Melinda Moore were right there for the reserve title for Poser Farm.

Tiffany Wheeler was in the irons in the ladies class and she piloted Kalarama’s Personality Plus to the blue for STJ Partnership.

The amateur division was quite competitive and well filled and their qualifier, with nine entries, was the largest class of the three-gaited division. Up Close & Personal, with owner Michelle Hartman, took the blue in the qualifier and returned in the championship to earn that top honor as well. Elizabeth Shatner and Boston Legal teamed up under the direction of Tre Lee to be named the reserve grand champions.

Brittany McGinnis had a busy and successful weekend in Harrodsburg competing with several different entries. She piloted Ostentatiously to the tricolor in the Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Championship with a strong effort. Lady Latte and Lexi Rueff turned in a great team effort to take the reserve under the direction of Betsy Webb. Tyler Devore is every inch the showman and he catch rode Harley Rally to the blue in the qualifier for owner James Orr.

Brian Chappell took his turn in the winner’s circle when Lady Godiva was selected as the top junior horse. Chappell rode for owner Stephanie Peterson.

Brookhill’s Glam Slam was indeed all glammed up after the blue was pinned to her bridle in the UPHA Three-Gaited Classic. Jackie Tanner turned in the winning ride for owners and breeders O’Brien Family Trust.

Mandy Martin had a heck of a year last year with her top young horse The Daily Lottery and she was back on another talented youngster in the two-year-old class. Legend’s Leading Lady topped the class for Dan and Diana Martin.

Owner and trainer Redd Crabtree put Lara Croft right where she needed to be to win the novice horse class amongst a good group. Bravia and Danielle Mallia closed out the division with a sweep of the three-gaited pony division for owner Linda Mallia. Danielle rode under the direction of Chris Bowen.

The amateur park division provided two great classes with great depth in both. Cumberland Crescent and Candi Aversenti turned back all challengers to win both classes under the direction of Bill and Kris Knight. The Redd Crabtree-trained team of Suddenly Single and Kelly Hill exited with the reserve tricolor.

Melissa Moore and Hillside Sensation headed down victory lane in the open class with a strong team effort for Jennifer and Steve McGowan.

Dances On Air is no stranger to the winner’s circle in the fine harness division and with Lindsay Lavery showing for R.C. Deuschle, Inc., she added the Fine Harness Championship title to her list of wins. Rob Tanner handled the drive with Brookhill’s young stallion Brookhill’s Apollon to finish with the reserve grand championship.

Harlem’s Santa Fe, also one of the division’s most recognized and consistent performers, made a single appearance with owner Susan Bartlett to win the seven-entry amateur class under the direction of Chuck Herbert and Lisa Uhde.

The junior class showcased eight sporty four-year-olds and Callaway Hills Farm came away as the big winners. Nelson Green had the lines with Callaway’s Nuts To You to earn the blue ribbon.

Ben Nash directed Nash Farms to a successful show including his winning drive with In The Name Of The Rose in the seven-entry quality-filled three-year-old class.

Big Red and Raymond Shively were unstoppable on their way to the winner’s circle in the Road Horse To Bike Championship and it was just one of several wins in the road horse division from DeLovely Farm. Derrick Westbrook piloted Steve Crabtree’s entry Rapid Design to the reserve grand championship title. Emerson made a single appearance with Shively to take the blue in the open class Tuesday evening.

Talledega Nights has been having a great year and prior to Melinda Moore driving to the win in the ladies class, Ralph Anderson had the winning drive in the novice driver class.

Judy McNeish and Thunderbolt kept the DeLovely road horse win count coming and they took the blue in the amateur qualifier before returning in the amateur stake to claim that tricolor as well. Mike Bacon drove Go For Broke to the second place finish in the amateur stake for owner and trainer Brad Bacon.

The seven-entry limit class was the largest of the division and Sir Dylan was named to go to the top of the list with Raymond Shively driving for Emerson Wallingford.

All Glory, yet another world’s title holder in the road horse division to compete at Harrodsburg was in top form with Danette Musselman to take the blue in the under saddle class.

McNeish closed out the division by entertaining the crowd on her way to another blue ribbon. She and Invincible Summer won the Road Horse To Wagon class.

The roadster ponies also had a great group of proven contenders competing and the five-entry open championship was yet another great class Saturday night. Heartland Flurry and Jerry Cummins topped four other teams to exit with the tricolor streamers for Equus Farm. Boogity Boogity and Patrice Watson-O’Brien won the limit class under the direction of Majestic Oaks before taking the reserve in the Road Pony Championship. Heartland Sundust and Beth Jones were the team to beat in the amateur class and they made their single appearance a winning one under the direction of Connie Smith.

Lauren Mathewson and Catch Me If You Can also made a single appearance at the fair and it was a winning one for Frickey Farms, Inc. They captured the blue in the AHHS Roadster Pony Youth Medallion class under the direction of Randy and Denessa Harper.

A nice group came through the gate for their junior class and Brad Bacon headed to center ring to accept the blue with Wild Turkey after Hale named them the winners for Barbara and Brad Bacon.

Tom Lowry piloted Six O Six to a blue ribbon debut in the three-year-old class for Golden Creek Farm to help lead them to a great show at Harrodsburg. Kelsey Morgan was in the irons with Silent Partner to win the AHHS Roadster Pony Under Saddle Youth Medallion class for Shamrock Farms.

Razz Ma Tazz closed out the division with the blue in the Roadster Pony To Wagon class. Owner Lanny Judd handled the drive under the direction of Les Cunningham.

Twin Willow’s Handsome Dan put on a great show to win the Harness Pony Championship and give Golden Creek yet another win for the week. Lowry was on the lines for the tricolor drive. Jeff McClean also contributed to the win count when Last Call was named the winner of the Open Harness Pony class.

Wait & See’s Reality, with Chris Gantley driving, picked up the blue in the open Hackney Pony class for owners Steve and LeAnn Golden.

WWF Bud Light and Lauren Kelly won the Hackney Pleasure Pony Driving Championship to top three other hardworking teams to go with their blue ribbon win in the open qualifier. Kelly drove for Walnut Way Farm. David Swezey and Glory B are a brand new team and they made their debut at Lexington Junior League. They followed up that success by capturing the reserve grand championship title for Frickey Farms’s owner Karen Frickey. Mathewson had another win in the AHHS Medallion division to add another blue to the Frickey Farms tack stall. She drove Truly Special to win the AHHS Hackney Pleasure Pony Driving Youth Medallion class.

Hale had such a big, talented group in front of him for the Adult Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship that he called for three horses to go back to the rail for a workout. Winner of the adult qualifier, Callaway’s Set The Bar with Susannah Sherman, were joined in the workout by Elisabeth Goth and Love Bite and Kristen Thorin with CH Summit Up. Footing for the class was deep and slick so the decision was made that the trio would not have to canter in the workout.

They did four gaits each direction and when Hale’s card was turned in, it was Callaway’s Set The Bar selected as the winner. Sherman rode under the Cedarwood Farm banner. Goth and Love Bite won the reserve grand championship from Kalarama Farm.

Calee Dillon and Suki Snowlet topped the junior exhibitor class Tuesday evening to add another blue to the DeLovely total and add another blue this season to owner Mary Dillon’s total.

Steal My Thunder and returned in the Park Pleasure Championship after winning the competitive open class to make it a clean sweep with the tricolor victory. John Field rode for owner Marty Reynolds to give her two wins for the week. Todd Walker teamed All Star Sensation to the reserve title in the championship for owner Cynthia Wright.

John Biggins and I’m The Big Apple went to the top of Hale’s list in the junior class for Holt Oaks Farm.

The UPHA Park Pleasure Classic was huge, with 12 entries, and the group put on a great show to entertain the crowd and compete for the blue. In the end it was owner and trainer Nelson Green with Mirror Me named as the winners.

Wendy Winstead had the winning drive in the Park Pleasure Driving class. She teamed KR’s Delightful Reflections to the blue for Carl Holden Jr. and Carla Ritzie.

Kaitlin Whatley continued her great show with the tricolor win in the Adult Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship. She rode CH The Last Straw to the tricolor. DeLovely teammate My One Night Stand was next in line and owner Lisa Schlesinger was all smiles as they left the ring with the reserve grand championship title.

Kim Langdon and The Muffin Man topped the show pleasure division’s largest class, the extremely competitive adult qualifier. The Muffin Man and Langdon bested 11 other teams for their impressive win under the direction of Mike McIntosh.

Foster Roberts put It’s A Wonderful World in the right places and Hale named them the winners of the eight-entry Junior Exhibitor Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship to go with their win in the 13 and under class earlier in the week. Roberts was directed to his win by his aunt and trainer Melissa Johnson of Mallard Farm. Clark Clouse directed the team of Stone Captive and Channing McWilliams to a strong effort for the reserve title. Bella Belle and Tyler Parker took the blue in the 14-17 class.

Biggins Stables added another blue to their total with Radiantly Amazing’s win in the Three-Gaited Pleasure Pony class with Gina Paliafito. The open pleasure class (excluding Saddlebreds) blue went to the Shamrock Farms team of Shamrock Billy O’Brien and Amanda Meyers.

Joellen Fisher Blount had a great week in the pleasure division and she captured the tricolor in the Show Pleasure Driving Championship with Cocktail Ring. Foxy Camilla teamed up with Aubrey Lambert and they were named the reserve grand champions for Sloan Enterprises. Lambert drove under the direction of Morgan Reiser and they came into the championship having already won the blue in the qualifier.

Twelve proven teams came through the gate for the Adult Country Pleasure Championship and their Friday night class was one of the night’s highlights. Blount picked up yet another tricolor when Cheetah’s Admiral was named the grand champion. Alexa Noble was cheered on by husband Jack and three-and-a-half month old son Coen when Geneve stepped up for the reserve streamers.

Ray Yoder met Alle Hagan and Irish Epic in center ring when they were selected as the Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure Grand Champions for Cece Hagan. Heirilee and Skylar Rueff picked up the reserve grand championship title under the direction of Betsy Webb. Haunting and Amy Hein were the team to beat in the junior exhibitor qualifier and their blue went back to the Cardinal Farms stalls for owners Dan and Jeana Hein.

The Kentucky Horse Council Natural Pleasure blue ribbon went to Pisgah Princess and owner Joni House.

Alexa Noble handled the winning drive in the Country Pleasure Driving Championship and did it in winning form to take the victory with Royal Crest American Made Stone. Noble drove for owner Becky Smith under the direction of Melissa Johnson after Smith herself had driven to the qualifier win. Tilt A Whirl and Carol Reams were directed to the reserve by Jimmy and Helen Robertson of Infinity on behalf of owners Dr. George and Carol Hromyak.

Dave Lopez and Willie Angel continued the great season they’ve got going under the direction of Dena Lopez by sweeping the Western Country Pleasure Championship and qualifier.

Brittany McGinnis rode Soli Deo Glori to add another tricolor ribbon to her count with the win in the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship for Fish Creek Stables. They had already been victorious in the 17 & Under Pleasure Equitation class.

DeLovely teammate Hunter Chancellor teamed Can You Hear Me Now to the blue in the 17 and under class for the Steven E. Chancellor family. Sarah Lawson, also from DeLovely, won the 17 & Under Challenge Cup with Feng Shui.

Payton Walker and A Touch Of Pizzazz went to the top of the list in the 10 & Under Walk & Trot Challenge Cup, and they were instructed by Tammy Devore.

Caroline Skinner added another win to the Biggins Stables total when she was named the winner of the Good Hands class. Skinner rode CH Royal Messenger to the win for James and Judy Skinner.

Karen Frickey and Tjebbe were a big hit with the crowd on their way to winning the Antique Carriage Driving class. The big, bold going Friesian added another win to the Frickey Farms total. Alex Nelson and Arend F took the blue in the Friesian Walk/Trot/Canter Championship after having won the qualifier under Mitch Clark’s direction.

David Mountjoy was the winning owner and trainer in the Saddlebred Mare and Foal class. Harry Gilmore showed Reedann’s Fine And Fancy to the blue for Mountjoy.

Four yearlings came through the gate for their in-hand class and the blue went to Daylight’s Wild Angel for owner Barbara Von Borries. Shane Sallee showed the baby on behalf of Von Borries.

Mercer County Fair consistently draws some of the industry’s most highly decorated contenders for first-rate competition at the country’s oldest running horse show. It is perhaps a great barometer of what we can expect to see on the green shavings of Freedom Hall.

This year’s show offered several special touches and fortunately dodged the bullet Saturday night as the predicted rain held off until after the show was over. The footing was a challenge but Brad Noel and his staff worked hard to get it in good shape and they did a great job to have it in good shape for Saturday’s championship session.

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