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Quality Abounds at the Illinois State Fair

by Leeann Mione

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois State Fair had a theme this year of "A Family Tradition" and that seemed quite fitting for the horse show as well. After all, what better example of family and tradition will you find than a state fair horse show anywhere in the country and with the "Big Dance" approaching next week, we’re bound to see families celebrating and longstanding traditions upheld.

Show Manager Jody Van Nattan was once again joined by her capable staff: Assistant Manager Webb Parlier, Steward Shirley Parkinson, Show Secretary Judy Stahl, office assistants Patti Conway, Jennifer Guillou and Mike Hoffman and tabulator Cheryl Rangel.

Cindi Avert was the barn announcer and Mary Kirkton and Arlene Cline both served as ring secretaries. Todd Jokish handled the in/out gate and Traces CT Ltd. was the official show videographer.

Bill Carrington served in center ring as announcer and he was joined by photographer Rick Osteen, organist Groff Bittner and ringmaster John Frye. Derrick Rushing and Dave Woods were the official farriers for the show.

One of the biggest struggles the state fair show faces each year is the overabundance of vehicles and the under-abundance (and that is a major understatement) of parking places. Van Nattan works hard every year to try to find more convenient parking for the horse show and this year, she did it. Some additional parking made traveling back and forth a little easier.

Mother Nature also did her part. After nearly unbearable triple digit temperatures early in the week, she provided a respite from the heat and cooled things down to provide some of the best weather in recent years.

But the weather isn’t what makes this horse show so much fun. It’s the horses and ponies who put on great classes for the big crowds each day and expose the general public to why horse and pony enthusiasts keep "A Family Tradition" alive and well.

The Five-Gaited Stake was one of the highlights of the gaited division and closed out a week of competition on a good note. Six horses came through the gate for the $7,500 class, and in front of a packed house, put on a great show.

The judging panel of Michael Craghead, Billy Jarrell and Lisa Waller had their work cut out for them to pick a winner from the strong group of contenders and when their cards were turned in, it was Heir Comes The Man and Tom Bombolis named to take the victory pass for Glenn Werry Jr. and Glenmore Farm. They topped the five-entry novice class earlier in the week.

Danette Musselman rode Packin’ A Pistol to a strong reserve for owner Carolyn Miller. Miller was in the irons to win the eight-entry competitive amateur class to add the blue ribbon to the Queenwood Stables LLC total. The amateur qualifier was the largest class of the division. The amateur stake featured five teams and Glenmore Farm added another win to their list when Callaway’s Case Closed took the blue with Glenn T. Werry up.

Ann Cox had a great week with her various entries and she teamed CH Night So Rare to the amateur reserve grand championship.

Other winners in the gaited division included Most Definitely Diamonds and Lisa Strickland in the open class for owner Ellen Dorsey; Heir’s Treat and Danette Musselman, riding for Judy Oetinger in the ladies class; Callaway’s Summer Treat, with Ally Diel in the junior exhibitor stake; Gabrielle Zimmerman with Sarah Robert in the junior exhibitor qualifier, Celtic Lass, with owner Mary Adams in the Land Of Lincoln Five-Gaited class, Callaway’s Place Your Bets and owner Lindsey Bade in the Illinois Resident Amateur Five-Gaited class; and Carlucci in the UPHA Classic with Mayo Moctezuma riding for Hickory Knoll Farm.

The Junior Five-Gaited class featured a trio of young gaited horses and Out In Dixie turned more than a few heads and sparked plenty of conversation when owner and trainer Armon Effinger presented for the win.

The Three-Gaited Stake was one of the highlights of the three-gaited division and showcased the elegance of five top walk-trot horses trying to earn the prestigious tricolor from the panel.

Charming Babette added that tricolor to the Queenwood Stables total when she was named the winner with Danette Musselman up. Musselman rode for David and Loren Osborne and Barbara Tway Partlow after competing in the ladies class earlier in the week. Mayo Moctezuma and Gossip Girl teamed up to take the reserve streamers in the stake for owner Meg Knowles.

(SA) The Starwalker made a blue ribbon appearance in the open class with Max Ciampoli riding for Bullet Concrete Materials and topped three other sporty entries for the victory.

The junior exhibitors had two good classes with four entries in both and the judges named He’s My Beau, with Katie Moeller riding, the winner in the stake and qualifier for Katie and Caroline Moeller. Brooke Bowen rode My Sweet E-Motion to the reserve grand championship title.

Other winners in the three-gaited division included Champagne Suzie, with Lisa Hillmer up for Jane Costello in the ladies class and Bubblegum with owner Liz Pinkerton in the amateur stake. Kurt Antonacci rode Bubblegum to the blue in the amateur qualifier.

Mountainview’s Peaches N’ Cream and owner Hannah Baldwin won the novice class and Brenda Benner teamed Callaway’s Worth Fighting For to the blue in the UPHA Classic to close out the division.

Both the open and amateur divisions for the park horses were competitive but it was the amateur qualifier that featured the highest number of entries with 11 teams facing the panel.

Diane Nyhammer and Matinee Idol were picture perfect to win the big, deep class and add the blue to the Strickland Stables total. They returned in the amateur stake to finish in reserve behind Ann Cox and Gretchen’s Gift. Cox continued her successful show with the strong team effort with Gretchen’s Gift and represented Rick Wallen Stables in the winner’s circle.

Like the amateur qualifier, the open qualifier was bigger than the open stake but all five horses in the stake put on a good show for the crowd and it was a strong representation of the talent in the park division.

Kim Crumpler rode Susan White’s entry Do You Dare to the open blue ribbon and returned in the stake to make it a clean sweep. Todd Perkins and Ghost Of Gypsy were next in the ribbons in the open stake for owner Dede Disbrow.

One of the special moments in the fine harness division, and in fact the horse show, was the special presentation in the amateur fine harness stake. CH So Fortunate headed to the end of the ring for owner Janene Steggeman and was met by Megan and Cindy Archer. In honor of Peter Archer, who loved a good harness horse and passed away earlier this year after the Madison Horse Show, the stake class was renamed the Peter Archer Memorial Amateur Fine Harness Stake (see separate story). CH So Fortunate also won the qualifier.

Sally Grieme and Escriva have been having a good season so far in the fine harness division and Grieme added the Fine Harness Grand Championship to her win list when the panel named them the winners. Sophie Simpson and owner Danette Musselman topped the ladies class before finishing as the reserve grand champions.

Other winners in the fine harness division included Land Of Lincoln winner Silver Certificate and Valerie Guell, junior and UPHA Classic champion County Supervisor and Dr. Alan Raun, two-year-old winner Nordic Mystery with owner Libby Mathers and two-year-old ASHB Futurity champion A Reason To Treasure with Raun driving.

Bacon Stables captured three of the four wins in the roadster to bike division with Larry and Brad Bacon handling the lines. Larry drove to the open stake and qualifier wins with African Queen and Brad drove to the amateur blue ribbon with Delorenzo. Alcazar and Colby Herron made their first appearance at the show in the novice class and won it, then returned in the open stake to finish with the reserve streamers for owner and trainer Mike Herron.

Illinois State Fair always draws a lot of great ponies in their respective divisions including the in-hand futurity classes and that was the case again this year. Rodney Hicks joined Craghead and Jarrell to judge the ponies and they had many tough decisions to make throughout the week.

It was awesome to see 10 talented ponies in the Open Roadster Pony Stake to get Saturday evening’s championship session off to a tremendous start. Jane Mueller’s ponies have earned many wins at the fair over the years, in several different divisions including the roadster pony divisions and 2008 continued that legacy.

Larry Bacon handled the winning drive with Murray Dickson to top the big open stake class while Mueller herself was out of the country and unable to see it. Her pony also earned the blue earlier in the week in the equally big open qualifier. Abel Vega was right there with Alexandra to take the reserve tricolor for Golden Creek Farm.

The amateurs, junior exhibitors, Land of Lincoln and ASHB three-year-old futurity competitors also had huge roadster pony classes and in fact, the Land Of Lincoln class was the biggest of the division with 11 entries. Junior Ray drove Romeo’s Desert Warrior to the blue in that great class to top 10 other talented ponies.

Friday night started off with the "Black Bart" Amateur Roadster Pony Stake and every driver gave it a great go, maneuvering to find a spot on the rail, but when the cards were turned in, it was Little Big Man taking the title with Ken Malek driving for Ken and Dixie Malek. Lambert "Junior" Schut and Kharbon Steel finished right behind for reserve after winning the amateur qualifier.

Glenmore added to their win list when Tony Wuesthofen put The Wizard LF right where he needed to be to win the nine-entry junior exhibitor class which showcased talented young drivers all the way down the list.

The young ponies were out in force at the fair and Amber Montgomery sat behind two top young ponies and put both of them in the winner’s circle for Steve and Bill Kildow. Kilbro’s Peppermint Twist won the deep 10-entry Mid West Hackney Futurity Three-Year-Old Roadster Pony class and Kilbro’s Gloriouswon won the Mid West Hackney Jackpot Four- Or Five-Year-Old Roadster Pony class which hosted six teams.

Wild Turkey and Larry Bacon added another blue to Brad Bacon’s total when number 447 was called out as the winner of the UPHA Hackney Pony Classic. The seven-entry class featured a good group on their way to Kansas City in November.

Other winners in the roadster pony division included junior champion Regal’s Prophet LF and Abel Vega for Golden Creek and Regal’s Margarita LF, with Devin Curran, in the AHHS Roadster Pony Under Saddle Youth Medallion class.

The harness ponies had several well-filled and competitive classes including the Harness Pony Stake with six high stepping entries. Kim Crumpler put forth the winning drive with Image Of Sophistication, owned by Gib Marcucci They had already been to the winner’s circle in the Mid West Hackney Jackpot Four- Or Five-Year-Old Harness Pony class. Conqueror’s Colleen, owned by Mary Ellen Golich, was reserve in the stake with Dr. Alan Raun. Holli McDowell drove Dun-Haven Truly Awesome to the blue in the six-entry open class to top a nice group for owner Paul Richardson.

Irv Udell and Creation’s Windstar also had a great group to compete against in the amateur stake but they came out on top, representing Bell View Acres, after having won the amateur gentlemen’s class. Dixie Malek and Senor were next in line for a ribbon in the entertaining stake class and they had won the amateur ladies class earlier in the week.

Other winners in the harness pony division included Neon Lites and Nedra Banks in the Land Of Lincoln class; Estoban and Alan Raun in the novice class for High Spirits Farm; and Raun with Heartland Undeniable in the UPHA Harness Pony Classic.

Bella Dancerella and Abel Vega topped the junior class for Golden Creek and Vega also drove Regal’s Norma Jean to blue in the Mid West Hackney Futurity Three-Year-Old Harness Pony class for Stephany Monteleone. Midnite Passion and Jerry Elmer won the two-year-old futurity and Emily Gove closed out the division with Malabar’s Gallant Man in the Hackney/Harness AHHS Medallion class.

Bacon Stables was represented in the winner’s circle twice more when Lord Ovation was named the Hackney Pony Grand Champion and open champion for Art Birtcher. Larry Bacon drove for both wins. Novice champion Cadet’s Foxfire received a lot of notice for the reserve effort in the stake with owner James Stober.

Showing under the direction of Jimmy Miller, Manitou won the Amateur Hackney Pony Stake with owner Gary Haugen driving. They also won the amateur gentlemen’s class under Miller’s direction.

Heartland Spindazzle won the Hackney pony division’s largest class, the Mid West Hackney Futurity Three-Year-Old Hackney Pony class. Darrel Kolkman drove for the win to continue a great week for Heartland Hackney Farm.

The remaining ribbons in the division went to ladies winner Romeo’s Miss Mariah LF and Stephany Monteleone for Golden Creek; Land Of Lincoln champion Bristolwood Onstar and Dawson Smith for Steve and Mary Smith; Bruce Eckstrom and Heartland News Flash in the novice class for Charles McCallister; and Prince Of Design with owner Vern Houston showing in the four- or five-year-old jackpot futurity class.

The pleasure ponies showcased their biggest group in the pleasure driving qualifier with nine ponies showing. Stephany Monteleone continued her good show by heading to the winner’s circle with Mastercraft’s Namesake LF then returned for the stake and earned that tricolor as well. Stacy Jones drove Boston Legal to reserve in the four-entry stake for Jones and Stan Edwards.

The three-year-old pleasure driving futurity class was also filled with talent as eight ponies competed. Monteleone was again the winning driver with her pony, Romeo’s Exclamation Mark LF. They took on the group in the UPHA Hackney Pony Classic and earned the blue ribbon to make it four for four for Monteleone in the Hackney Pony division.

Rose Marie Wheeler had a busy week under the direction of Crumpler Stables and by the end of it she had compiled a list of several wins including the AHHS Pleasure Driving Pony Youth Medallion win with Seamair’s Dear Sir.

Other winners in the division included Romeo’s Serena Warrior LF in the Land Of Lincoln class with Erik Kirsch and Last Call and Katy Padula for Scott Seils in the Four- Or Five-Year-Old Hackney Pleasure Driving Futurity.

Allyson Taapken closed out the division with her win in the AHHS Pleasure Pony Under Saddle Youth Medallion with Unique’s Mr. America from Ron Taapken Stables.

The pleasure classes at Illinois were extremely competitive especially in the show and country pleasure divisions. That’s not to say the gaited and park pleasure classes weren’t competitive… they were. They just weren’t quite as large.

Champagne For Two and Brittany Logan moved up in the ribbons to win the Five-Gaited Pleasure Stake and topped a very strong group in the process including qualifier winner and reserve grand champion Summer Sweet with Ann Cox.

Danette Musselman kept the wins coming for her group when she won the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic with Callaway’s Dream Big for Patrice Watson-O’Brien. Bell View’s Safe Harbor, owned by Jeanette Durant, won the three-year-old class with Julio Rodriguez up.

After the 13 adult riders were split by age group for their qualifiers, nine returned for their Adult Three-Gaited Pleasure Stake. The crowd picked their favorites which is one of the things that makes showing at the state fair so much fun. Like at Freedom Hall, the crowd makes sure the judges know who they like.

In the adult stake, the judges liked CH Treasured Memories with owner Linda Roos. They picked up the win after winning the 40 and over class. Irresistible Day and Abby Reising, directed by Country Meadow Farm, were the reserve grand champions and they came into the stake having already won the 18-39 class.

Jack Nicholson and Jourdan Schaye put together the winning team effort in the junior exhibitor stake which featured riders from both age group qualifiers. Their win was their second as they also won the 14-17 class. Jessica Wuesthofen, from Glenmore Farm, won the 13 and under class before taking the reserve streamers in the junior exhibitor stake with Full Court.

Remaining blue ribbons in the show pleasure division went to Supreme’s Senorita and Marilyn Pacella in the Land Of Lincoln class; Megan Thibo and Fox News for Frank Zimmerman in the Illinois Resident class; and Seaforth’s Heiristotle with Diane Nyhammer in the junior horse class.

Rose Marie Wheeler was cool as a cucumber despite facing an older, proven group of competitors on her way to winning the Show Pleasure Driving Stake with CH May Issue. Wheeler still shows in walk and trot equitation, so her win was especially impressive. She also took the blue in the 39 and under class. Reserve Grand Champion Heir’s Curtain Call won the 40 and over class with owner Joyce Cashman handling the drive.

Kent Swalla put numerous winners in the ring to lead his group to a big week including junior exhibitor Nathan Hinds’s win in the Country Pleasure Championship. The young man’s win was even more impressive because the championship was the largest class of the show. My Point Of View was the winner of the adult class with Susan Narko and they returned to claim the reserve in the stake from Bell View Acres.

Maya Manilow made a brief stop in Springfield to compete at the fair under the direction of Donna Pettry Smith and Manilow rode Mike and Dale Arnston’s horse Endless Summer to the blue in the Illinois Resident Pleasure class which was competitive with eight teams competing.

Sally Grieme wasn’t done winning yet with the Fine Harness Stake. She headed back down victory lane with Enzo in the Country Pleasure Driving Stake to pick up her second tricolor of the week. They also won the qualifier. The Tonight Show and Ken Malek finished in the reserve slot in the stake for Ken and Dixie Malek.

Marcia Scott had Count Chocula in top order to win the Western Pleasure Stake and qualifier to add two more wins to the Strickland Stables banner. CH Triumphant was the reserve grand champion with owner Elena Rozwadowski on board.

Lauren Brannon was met by her dad, Rocky Brannon, after she was named the Saddle Seat Equitation Grand Champion, riding Zero Mostel. She topped two other riders earlier in the week to win the 11-13 class as well. Brooke Bowen won the 14-17 class with My Sweet E- Motion.

Hanna Cherry won the 10 and under class for walk/trot/ canter riders after teaming Big Johnny Ritz to the top of Lisa Waller’s card.

The 10 & Under Walk & Trot Equitation blue went to Rose Marie Wheeler to add to her collection. She rode Simbara’s Cara Mia to the win and topped a big group in the process. She also won the seven-entry UPHA Walk & Trot Challenge Cup class.

Margaux Walker rode Stratocaster down victory lane in the UPHA Chapter X Challenge Cup to add another win to the Country Meadow Farm total.

Country Meadow wasn’t done picking up wins yet. Mallory Hartigan and Simbara’s Salutation topped five other teams to win the Pleasure Equitation Championship. Lenore’s Tornado and Elena Breeden teamed up to take the reserve championship streamers. Hartigan came into the championship as the winner of the 14-17 qualifier. Caroline Moeller rode Virtual Volcano to a blue to join her sister on the list of winners under the direction of Max Ciampoli. Caroline won the 13 and under class which hosted four young ladies in a quest for the blue.

Illinois State Fair, like most other state fairs, always draws top quality young equines to compete in the futurity classes.

Craghead, Jarrell and Waller judged the Saddle Horse futurities and Hicks judged the Mid West Hackney Futurities. All four judges had beautiful babies in front of them all week.

The ASHB Amateur Two-Year-Old Futurity featured two entries and the panel named Keeper the winner with Devin Curran showing for Vonal Curran.

Danette Musselman and her dad, Dale Musselman, have had great success in the futurity classes at the fair and they showed The Pistol to the tricolor in the ASHB Yearling Championship after winning the stallion/gelding class for Musselman Farms. Royal Crest’s Stone Crystals, shown by Peter Mace, was reserve in the championship for Bruce and Rusty Rademann who are no strangers to the winner’s circle with their homebred stock. Mace also showed the filly to the nine-entry yearling mare qualifier win. They added another win to their total when Royal Crest’s Stone Crystals topped the amateur class with Mace to best a field of nine.

John Oder showed Meadowview’s Lady Gina to the Land Of Lincoln Yearling class victory for owner Sharon Rubsam.

The Saddlebred weanlings had huge classes to compete in with 11 in the colt class and 11 in the amateur weanling class. The weanling fillies competed amongst a field of eight.

Nine weanlings returned for their championship and Devin Curran once again headed down victory lane. She showed I’m Stuck On You to the championship tricolor for Vonal Curran. They also won the weanling mare class.

What’s In Your Wallet and Joe Russell picked up the reserve grand championship tricolor for Hickory Knoll Farm, after winning the big weanling colt class.

Curran’s weanling showed that the big crowds, whether human or equine, were of no concern and took on the 10 other teams in the ring to come out on top and add the blue from the amateur weanling futurity class to their total.

Millie Crowley was thrilled when her weanling filly Victory’s Pretty Fancy SF was named the winner of the Land Of Lincoln Weanling class. Trainer Ann Thibo, of Show Fizz Farm, handled the filly for the blue.

Rodney Hicks named Crimson’s Glory Bay the winner of the Mid West Hackney Futurity Two-Year-Old Stallion/Gelding class. Dwayne Yozamp showed his colt for the blue ribbon.

Jerry Elmer’s two-year-old Priority Princess, won the two-year-old mare Hackney futurity class with Jim Spurrier and Pam Ahrens presenting.

Erik Kirsch showed Regal’s Promoter LF to the top of the card in the stallion/gelding yearling futurity class to add another win to Dan and Leah Light’s total. Kirsch then took the victory pass with Highly Radiant LF in the yearling mare futurity for Light Farms to keep their win streak going.

Heartland Hackney Farm boasted the win when Shae and Shayla Seils presented Heartland Demonstrator to the title in the weanling stallion futurity for Darrel and Sandra Kolkman. Late-Nite’s New Design, with Roger Lucas presenting for Lucas and Heath, took the victory pass in the weanling mare futurity class.

Amateur exhibitors were in attendance to show their unshod weanlings and nine young Hackneys showed up to take a shot at the blue ribbon from Hicks. Once again, it was a Heartland-bred pony, Heartland Brass Tacks, named to the winner’s circle. Shae and Shayla Seils showed for the Kolkmans. Shayla Seils headed to the presentation area to pick up another blue ribbon when she presented Heartland Juliet to take the victory in the Mid West Hackney Futurity Junior Exhibitor Weanling Showmanship class.

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