By Frank J. Buchman
While it’s probably not the greatest show on earth, Kansas’ greatest horse show is circled in red on the calendars.
“It’s the 25th anniversary of EquiFest of Kansas and we’re doing everything we can to make it the best ever,” according to Justine Staten.
As executive director of the Kansas Horse Council, Staten said EquiFest of Kansas is at Salina again this year on March 18, 19 and 20.
“EquiFest has attractions for anyone with an interest in horses and is appealing to newcomers wanting to learn more about horses,” Staten said.
EquiFest of Kansas will once again be at the Saline County Breeding and Exhibit Center at 900 Greeley Avenue in Salina.
“A number of facility upgrades have been made this year to further enhance our silver anniversary event,” Staten noted.
“We really appreciate all the great cooperation provided by Expo Center officials and the Salina community,” Staten added.
“Since 1992, the Kansas Horse Council has served the state’s equine industry with leadership and direction through education, advocacy and public policy advocacy,” Staten explained.
“EquiFest is our primary fundraising activity for these services to all Kansas horse owners,” she said. “The main attraction for EquiFest is the many equine-related vendors with booth space still available today.”
Clinicians presenting programs during EquiFest include Chris Cox with general riding demonstrations each day. Phil Haugen will focus his presentation on speed horses, and Michael Gascon will discuss gait horses and trail riding. Gail Matheus and Marie Maloney will present a western dressage show on Saturdays only.
An open horse judging competition is scheduled for Friday. Assistance is provided by the Kansas Paint Horse Association and teams at Cloud County Community College and Kansas State University.
Workhorse owners from Colorado, Iowa, Kanas and Montana have already competed in team head-to-head races on Friday and Saturday.
Entries are coming in from seven states for Friday’s horse shooting competition. Ranch rodeos are scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights with Trixie Chicks riding for halftime entertainment.
The third annual Legendary Riders Panel is scheduled for Saturday. The panelists are farrier Richard Clower, photographer Alfred Janssen, trainer Craig Cole and breeder Frank Higgs.
Each day, the opening ceremonies will be performed by the Mounted Guard of the Commanding General of Fort Riley. They will also demonstrate the riders’ tactical skills in the afternoon programs.
Saturday and Sunday, the Nicodemus Buffalo Soldiers will present their historic military march. Founder Barrie Tompkins is to discuss the importance and contributions of soldiers in special workshops.
USA’s Freedom Drill Riders will be on hand to honor the nation’s military forces with patriotic performances. A Kiddies Corral is planned with unique events for young horse enthusiasts.
A number of horse breeds will be on display with several featuring special demonstrations. “Visits will be held daily to get up close and personal with the different petting horses and mini donkeys,” Staten promised.
“As always, Kansas rodeo royalty will be on hand to get your photo or an autograph,” Staten said. “They will also help with the Kansas Horse Council Foundation silent auction and raffle fundraising scholarships for young people pursuing a career in the horse.”
Sunday activities begin with church services presented by Pastor Steve Stafford, followed by special entertainment throughout the day.
The highlight is a double-sanction breakaway rope competition with additional cash prizes. The top stringers from the Women’s Profession Rodeo Association (WPRA) and World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA) in the first round advance to a one-of-a-kind Grand Final.
“We look forward to welcoming you to this 25th Anniversary EquiFest of Kansas, March 18, 19, and 20, in Salina,” Staten said.
Details can be found on the Kansas Horse Council and EquiFest of Kansas websites as well as on Facebook.
As Executive Director of the Kansas Horse Council (KHC), Justine Staten manages logistics for EquiFest of Kansas, KHC’s premier fundraiser.