Mark you calendar - !! for the ODHBA annual plowing competition - I'll be out there with my boys this year! - at Champoeg State Heritage Area the weekend of May 1-2.
the full article
written by David Sale 4/7/10
It’s a vanishing art, but these horse lovers are determined not to let it die.
Members of the Oregon Draft Horse Breeders Association will show off their horse-drawn plowing skills at Champoeg State Heritage Area the weekend of May 1-2.
“It’s a wonderful group of old farmers who have been working the land for generations — and some newbie farmers like me who are being mentored into this great art,” said participant Clare Carver of Big Table Farm.
In fact, according to founding member Duane Van Dyke, plowing with horses is undergoing a bit of a renaissance.
“It’s a way of reconnecting to the past — and a lot of organic farmers are going back to it,” he said. “For one thing, you can get out there when it’s too muddy for a tractor.”
“It’s actually very relaxing,” he added. “Just you and the horses — when it goes well, life doesn’t get any better.”
Unlike most horse shows, awards will be given not on the animals’ looks or gait but on how smoothly the teams and their leader start and finish plowing, making tight turns and straight furrows along the way.
“Older farmers would always look at each other’s fields to see how they were doing,” Van Dyke said. “We’ll have two judges scoring, but it’s really all in fun — we’ve all known each other for years.”
The association expects 18 to 20 teams of draft horses and mules to compete from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 1, followed by an “exposition day” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 2, when participants will disc plow, harrow and seed the competition field with wheat.
For the benefit of spectators, an announcer will be on hand to explain the finer points of field preparation and visitors are encouraged to stop and ask questions of the contestants.
Harvested in August, the wheat field forms a part of Champoeg’s living history exhibits and its plowing is the centerpiece of an annual celebration, said park ranger Kim Martin.
“The draft horse competition is part of our Founders’ Day celebrations — we’ve been teaming up with them for the past five years,” she said. “We’ll also have costumed interpreters on hand, including some blacksmiths from Fort Vancouver, Wash., to demonstrate shoeing, live music in the visitor’s center and discussions on ‘Farming Then and Now’ led by the Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers.”
The Founders’ Day festivities commemorate not the establishment of the state park itself, but a vote by the early settlers of Champoeg to align themselves with the United States government — rather than Britain or France — thus beginning the process that led to Oregon’s statehood.
Admission to the draft horse show and Founders’ Day events is free with the purchase of a $3 parking permit.