Midwest Horse Fair (MWHF) had not been held since 2019. For two years, all events were cancelled at the large unique venue. It became our areas largest COVID testing site.
Three years later, MWHF is back!
We attended Friday in endless driving side-ways rain. Saturday was much better weather, still very windy - but - it was the first day you could get in the fields. We stayed home and Brad got all our Spring field work done.
We should have been more excited about the return of horse fair, but we were not. A lot changes in three years. In a nutshell, it lacked luster and the excitement of years past. At least for us. In detail, it was like this:
CLINICIANS: None of the clinic topics/clinicians peaked our interest enough to sit on hard uncomfortable seats and watch. Not that the clinicians were bad. Chris Cox had a big following.
Over the years we've learned it is really hard to take away quality info in such a large in-personal setting, and even harder to put into practice.
RODEO: We usually enjoy the PRCA rodeo on Friday/Saturday evenings. There was a lot of unknown when rodeo tickets went on presale in January, related to masking/testing etc. If you don't get tickets early, you end up in the nose bleed section. We decided to skip the rodeo this year. I heard Saturday was a sold out crowd, and the rodeo was "okay" but there were not many riders.
We decided to attend fair for the shopping, although our favorite vendors are no longer there.
SHOPPING: We missed catching up with familiar faces we've become acquainted with over the years. There are hundreds of other less personable vendors. Many sell junk made in China. Larger vendors that offered great horse care deals, have gone out of business. A vendor friend that does custom leather work told us it doesn't pay for them to attend fair.
Custom water bottles must be all the rage, because they were for sale in abundance. As were soft shell jackets. Along with all the none horse related stuff, like kitchen food saving snap ware and miracle creams. Yes, horse people use these things but I for one don't go to fair to buy kitchen stuff.
I was looking around for things related to arthritis (for Koda) and got sucked into a vendor booth.
The couple had a top secret miracle gadget! SO secret they couldn't have a website, a Facebook page or even a business card. Because "cancer organizations are after them". They kept asking for my phone number to send me a video that shows me how their gadget works. "You turn it on, and wave it over your ache-y place." I kept politely declining. OHhhh but their gizmo heals, cures cancer and ~ gasp ~ it even takes away wrinkles!! Said the woman with a face full of wrinkles.
This miracle healing gadget is ALL over Europe, but hasn't been approved in the US. Hmmm, perhaps there is a reason the cancer organizations are "after you". I couldn't help myself and nicely asked "isn't that just a ramped up hair dryer?" YES!! they both replied in unison "that is EXACTLY what it is"!! Say whaaat.....??! We saw another vendor selling a different version of a ramped up hair dryer. Buyer beware.
We did pick up something useful, a couple more orange slow feed nets. One for Padame to use at shows, and one as a backup. Inventory was low and like everything, when they make the next batch prices will go up. We really like our orange nets. They do last longer, but not forever.
Shortly after arriving at fair, I came across a new (to me) handmade earrings vendor. She was REALLY good at what she does! Sell her earrings. This non-shopper spent way more muhlaa than I should have. After we walked away with no less than 4 pair of earrings in hand, Brad said we were there for 40 minutes. Whoops!
Below is the earring style they are know for. You twist-n-twirl them onto your ear, so they can't fall out.
The other earrings I purchased go in a first or second ear hole. They go up your ear lobe, and look like a buncha ear piercings. I can mix & match them. They had hundreds of color combinations and styles. What can I say, buy three get one free only makes sense when you are buying two anyways.
I used to be really into wearing jewelry and am a sucker for quality handmade unique jewelry. I found out, this vendor has been making the backless style earrings for 9 years. Oh, and the couple lives about 20 minutes away from us. I found out two of my friends have earrings made by Decorate your Lobes, and they said the same thing. She is really good at what she does, and every time they see her...cha-ching!
MISSING FROM FAIR: There was something, or better said someone missing from fair. I mentioned to Brad, I it was odd the Booms were not in Stallion alley. For the past 15 years a well-known super friendly older couple, who always had time to chat horse with you was not at fair. They were always together. They trail rode their stallions ALL over the US and had a big presence in the horse community. The follow day, we found out why they were not in Stallion alley at fair....cue waterworks. The elderly husband and two daughters walked her beloved riding stud, saddled with her boots in stirrups backwards, at the MWHF stallion review. It was her studs last appearance at fair. I cannot imagine the strength that took, after losing Charlene just a few weeks prior. We do not know the Booms personally.
Among other accolades, the couple received a lifetime achievement award for the many things they have done for the horse industry. Including organizing their local club and an annual trail ride for years. It was very well attended. We almost went once with Cierra's breeder. That year over a hundred showed up. If interested, here is a link to their breeding program. They also raised Dalmations. They have a large equine business property and a lot of horses.
OTHER EVENTS: I am glad we decided to go back Sunday afternoon and watch the MWHF Top Hand Showdown finals. The top five women and the top five men prequalified, out of 50 original competitors. They competed on the SAME horse in five events: Breakaway Roping, Pole Bending, Steer Stopping, Team Roping Heeling and Barrel Racing. The event was really interesting to watch.
We watched the Red Rock Riders drill team, right before the Top Hand finals. Always fun.
3.92 seconds Breakaway
The young gal above had one HOT horse. She handled it like a pro and scored well in most events. I was sure she would take first place. Unfortunately, she got a no score with penalty on the heeling portion and ended up in second place.
The women competed against other women, and men against men.
3.81 score (not the fastest) Breakaway
This riders total points won him the mens MWHF Top Hand title & award.
The MWHF website said there were: 61,000 attendees, 350 volunteers, 500 vendors, 700 horses, 300 clinics, lectures and performances. An $11 million economic impact.