History in the making has been the theme every year for the last 65 years of the national Shetland Pony Congress and Show. It all started back in 1947 with a very dedicated man who gave extraordinary time and energy to coordinate the 1st National Shetland Pony Congress.
His name was William A. Simpson and he was held in high regard as one of the best Welsh, Shetland and Hackney breeders in the U.S. The inaugural event was held during one of the largest fairs in the world, the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. The pony show was meant to be a "Breeders' Showcase" that encouraged breeders to exhibit their achievements in Shetland Pony breeding.
The ponies were judged by a standard of perfection set by the American
Shetland Pony Club. The National Shetland Pony Congress continued on into the 1950s with upwards to 300 quality Shetlands presented annually. It was 1997 when the 50th anniversary of the Shetland Congress was
celebrated. That year the Classic Congress was held in Mason City, Iowa, and the Modern Congress was held in Columbus, Ohio.
2011 Shetland Pony Congress will indeed be a history making event
The 2011 American Shetland Pony Congress will be a history making event, say its organizers. The opening ceremony will be held in the same arena where the original congress was held, which is the Iowa State Fair Coliseum. This year's event will start with a presentation of past Congress Champions.
Although Bill Simpson is no longer here to witness this commemorative reenactment of his 1st National Shetland Congress, Mr. Van DeWalle, who is from Iowa and who was the 1st official ring master of the 1947 American Shetland Congress Show, will be present at this year's event. He will be included in the ceremony along with many other ASPC members whose families and relatives have participated over the past seven decades of the Congress Show. ASPC is expecting over 500 ponies to compete this year for Congress titles.
What keeps people interested in raising, showing Shetland ponies?
Asked what keeps a family involved in showing and raising Shetlands, an enthusiast for this breed, Amy Roberts, says, "There's something unique about these ponies, these events and people involved. No other equine organization can boast of anything even close to the annual Shetland Congress and what such an event means to its people in terms of tenure and both the ability to attract new people, and retain so many long-term stables."
Her family, the Roberts Family of Willow Hill, Illinois has their 5th generation of family showing American Shetland Ponies this year.
"We look for this year's gathering in Des Moines to be a spectacular Congress," says ASPC president Pat Sanders. "This is a destination which our organization has been looking toward for several years and we hope it will become the permanent home for the American Shetland Congress Show."
Anyone who is interested in this event is invited to come and join the celebration of the 65th Annual American Shetland Pony Congress. "Our event this year is coming back home to where it all began. This year we will continue this historic show for the future generations of the American Shetland Pony," says Sanders.