BUCKHANNON — Despite some rainy conditions early on Saturday, the weather cleared up and cooperated for the 2.5 mile long WV Strawberry Festival Horse and Carriage Parade. The highly anticipated annual event, which marks the festival’s beginning, garnered impressive attendance this year, according to pleased festival coordinators. The parade also had record participation with 85 spectacular entries making their way down Strawberry Lane.
A collection of thrilling equestrian performances that took place across from the Bicentennial Inn before the parade were another welcome addition to this year’s festival. Renee Hoffman of Hodgesville served as the announcer, then later rode in the parade representing Freedom Hill Farm. Special thanks were extended to Mike Miller, DDS for sponsoring the event and making it all possible.
Emi Martin, an eight-year-old trick rider from Belmont, Ohio opened the show with patriotism while “Proud to be an American” played. She also made the crowd gasp several times during her later performance, which included her daring hippodrome trick of standing atop Thunder’s back while he galloped around the ring.
Cherokee Stables Standardbred Drill Team from Grove City, Ohio were the first to showcase their talents at the inaugural event. Their Standardbreds’ exceptional speed and agility has helped them seamlessly transition from their former jobs on the race track to adored rescues in the show ring.
The Mid-American Cowgirls Drill Team traveled all the way from Three Oaks, Michigan to give the next colorful performance with beautiful flags and flashy chaps. They’ve won numerous awards and were honored as one of the 40 units chosen out of 3,000 applicants to ride in the 58th Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, DC.
Dabney Riding Academy’s Diamond D Cowgirls Mounted Drill Team shared their expertise as festival goers watched in awe. The talented young ladies from Atlanta, Georgia were named the 2015 and 2016 National Drill Team Champions. This was their first trip to West Virginia and the Cowgirls were very excited to attend what was hopefully their first of many Strawberry Festivals.
The Chaplain Captain Henry Vinton Plummer Chapter of the ninth and tenth Calvary National Association from Prince George’s County, Maryland was another favorite featured guest group on site for the festival’s horse-themed day. They are a charitable and educational organization formed to preserve and perpetuate the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and honor their service to our nation. The Plummer Chapter provides equine therapy to veterans with disabilities and they also present two scholarships each year.
Shadow Montag was the final featured equestrian act and he amazed the spectators by Roman riding his two gorgeous horses, Thunder and Bella, through fire stunts. Shadow grew up in a rodeo family and began riding horses before he could talk. He has worked for Dolly Parton at the Dixie Stampede and was featured on the reality show, “Bringing Up Bates”. After his thrilling performance, Shadow graciously took the time for a meet and greet with his new fans, autographing posters and posing for photos.
2019 WVSF Horse and Carriage Parade Results
Best Overall Carriage/Wagon
First Place David Wells
Second Place White Mountain Farms
Third Place Mike Roach
Best Overall Equestrian Unit/Drill Team
First Place Diamond D Cowgirls
Second Place Mid America Cowgirls
Third Place Buffalo Soldiers
First Place Mia Park/Kari Park
Second Place Buffalo Soldiers
Third Place Virgil Lishick
First Place Rocky Ridge Acres
Single Horse Hitch
First Place Rocky Point Farm
Second Place Jack Watson
First Place TK Mules
Second Place Faith Mountain
Third Place Rocky Ridge Acres
First Place Cary Terry
Second Place Diamond RD Farm
Third Place Wayne Kirk
First Place Rocky Point Farm
Second Place Ray Miller
Third Place Thunder Hills Haflinger Farm
Under 38" Mule, Pony, Horse
First Place Darlene McWee
Second Place Sandy Creek Belgians
Third Place Cody & Paige/Allison Hull
Small Group - Less than 10 Riders
First Place 40 Something Cowgirls
Second Place Barbour Co 4-H
Third Place Bowser Contracting
Large Group - 10 and more Riders
First Place Cherokee Stables Drill Team