Big horses, big draw at 26th annual Draft Horse Classic |

Big horses, big draw at 26th annual Draft Horse Classic

Photo for The Union John Hart
John Hart | The Union

On the heels of the Nevada County Fair, which was compromised by excessive heat, the Nevada County Fairgrounds needed a little cooperation from Mother Nature.

Well, they got it, as the 26th annual Draft Horse Classic that ran from Friday to Sunday drew strong crowds.

“Last night it was packed,” said Wendy Oaks, fairgrounds spokeswoman. “It felt like a lot of people where here wandering around the grounds.”

The sheer size and grandeur of the animals are an attractant for many people, Oaks said.

“The horses are enormous, beautiful and magnificent, so that is the biggest draw,” she said. “It also helps that the grounds are so pretty.”

The one thing that can ruin the classic is rain, as it compromises the large-breed horses’ ability to pull the historic carriages and make the necessary maneuvers, Oaks said.

“If it rains, it can get pretty sloppy out there,” she said.

Despite overcast skies that threatened rain Sunday morning, the precipitation stayed away and the competition commenced.

“I think the horses are awesome,” said 16-year-old Allison Deoudes, who came from Salinas, Calif., to watch the competition and help her mother, who had an art display at the show. “They’re incredible creatures and it’s nice to see them working and doing what they were meant to do.”

Deoudes, who rides quarter-horses in her hometown, said she can tell that the horses enjoy their work.

“When they play certain music, they hold their heads a little higher,” she said.

Allison’s mother, Ruth Deoudes, illustrates that there is more to the Draft Horse Classic than what happens in the ring.

Ruth Deoudes is an artist, who draws pastoral images of the American West, and comes to the classic annually to hawk her paintings and drawings.

“We usually camp, and we talk to friends and solve the world’s problems,” she said. “I’ve been coming here for 13 years and it’s a great event. The people are always really nice.”

Ruth Deoudes is one of several artists who display their creative efforts at the classic. There is also numerous vendors at the event.

“We just love it at the fairgrounds,” said Denise Griffis of Penn Valley, who brought along her husband and two children. “We like to wander around; it’s like going to the fair.”

While it costs money to see the actual events involving the horses, people can wander the grounds free of charge, an opportunity many families take advantage of, Oaks said.

There was also a barbecue cook-off taking place on Sunday.

Keith Stroup, owner of Aroma Catering based in Marysville, was busy working the outdoor grilles, preparing spare rips, chicken thighs and tri-tip, hopeful of taking home a couple prizes for his concoctions.

When asked the secret to barbecue he replied: “Cook it low and slow.”

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or call (530) 477-4239.

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