If there’s one wish Georgetown/Scott County Tourism Executive Director Lori Saunders and everyone involved with the Festival of the Horse has, it is sunny, blue skies and comfortable temperatures.
They couldn’t have painted a more perfect weekend for the 39th Annual Festival of the Horse that started Friday and ended Sunday.
“We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Nice weather really does make it special and the vibe downtown is better when it is sunny and nice,” said Saunders Monday morning.
“We don’t charge admission, so we don’t have a gate to get an official count. But we can project that because of the better weather we had the largest crowd in a long time.”
It wouldn’t have taken much to be better after the last couple of years suffered heavy rain forcing the music acts to perform at Country Boy Brewing, and the festival even closed early one year due to heavy rain and fierce winds.
It isn’t just the crowd that was bigger this year, she said.
“We had a very large crowd on Saturday night in Toyota’s Grand Parade of Horses,” she said. “We had about 100 horses participating, which is the largest number in the last six years. The participants in the parade spend several hours getting their horses and tack ready. We know it isn’t easy.
“One of our goals is to get more participants in the Grand Parade, and at all of our horse activities whether it is the horse show or horse games at Brooking Park. Bonnie Nueville has been coordinating the horse show for 38 years, and Marie Tomacelli has been doing the horse games for several years. We appreciate all those who do come out.”
There were 90 food, arts and crafts and commercial vendors lining the downtown streets, and Saunders thanked them all.
“We felt we had a good mix of vendors. Anybody who came down could find something good to eat and visit some great craft vendors. And our commercial vendors stepped out of their shops to be part of the festival. That says a lot about our community that they want to be part of the festival.”
Local and regional music acts on the Country Boy Brewing stage provided the background beat for the weekend.
“Jen Tackett has coordinated the music acts the last two years, and she has a gift of finding local and regional talent,” Saunders said. “We feel that is who we should be showcasing and we know people will be coming to support them.”
She also credited the local public works, fire and police departments, Emergency Management, and EMS for providing a safe atmosphere.
“We want people to see them being part of the festival and every one of them are happy to be there,” she said. “They enjoy being out in the community and their support makes it easier for all of us.”
Now she and her small band of 20-25 volunteers and coordinators will take a week to catch their breath and start planning for next year’s 40th Festival.
“It sounds like a small group, but they are a mighty group,” Saunders said. “They are invested in the Festival of the Horse and work every day organizing and fund-raising. The festival wouldn’t happen without them.”
Steve McClain can be reached at email@example.com.