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Horse Progress Days returns to Illinois

Slideshow: After running its normal circuit across the country for the past five years, Horse Progress Days came back to Arthur, Ill., in July.

Arthur, Ill., welcomed thousands for a farm show featuring almost no electrically powered equipment at the beginning of July.

While a few vendors relied on generators and batteries, the focus of Horse Progress Days was on horse-drawn implements, as well as sheep herding and various nonelectric innovations, such as furnaces that can heat a whole home without drawing power from the grid.

Horse Progress Days comes to Arthur every six years after stops in Dutch-Amish strongholds in Michigan, Pennsylvania, northern Indiana, southern Indiana and Ohio. The 22-year-old show moved to a new location this year at the Arthur Sale Barn and featured a strong turnout despite rain on the first of two days.

“People are going to remember 2019,” says coordinator Chester Detweiler, noting the dry second day was a welcome change from the first day, where rain rolled in midway through the schedule.  

The change in location gave plenty of barn space for horses as they were prepped for demonstrations.

“This is the first time it’s been held at the Arthur Sale Barn in Arthur, Ill.,” Detweiler says. “It’s worked out very well. We’ve had way more vendors, which congested everything a little more. In six years, we’ll definitely expand our vendor booth area to where we have more room for everybody.”

Alan Richard Cobb, a retired sheep production specialist from University of Illinois Extension, attended the show. He says he almost got stuck leaving the grounds on Friday due to the rain, but come Saturday, volunteers were rallied to pull attendees on tractor-drawn hayrides. They were brought from dry parking south of town to the northerly Arthur Sales Barn. Yellow-vested Amish showgoers used bikes and horse-drawn carriages, too.

“This is the third one of these I’ve been to in Arthur,” Cobb says. “I’ve seen it grow numberwise. They’re really developing business by moving it here.” He adds that the old site 5 miles away was less developed but had great horse demonstrations. “They had horses similar to the Budweiser horses. But even though those horses aren’t here this year, I had a great time.”

While wet conditions limited horse-drawn moldboard plow demonstrations, many of the scheduled events still took place, with a horse show and auction concluding Horse Progress Days.

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