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Horse-pulling, dog-petting all part of Ag Expo

July 19, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION
  • Braxton Griffith, 10, waits with Belle and Nikki Sunday at the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair. The young entrepreneur wheels his Jack Russell terrier dogs around the fair and charges people a quarter to pet them. Braxton of Boonsboro said the dogs are "tamer and calmer because we trained them from pups."
Kelly Hahn Johnson, Staff Photographer

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Sunday's installment of the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair marked the return of a distinctively agricultural event: the sights and sounds of huge draft horses plodding across the ground.

The horses were being used by teams competing in an event to determine which group could pull a weighted sled the farthest.

Randy Wonderley of Grottoes, Va., won the event after his horses pulled 5,000 pounds 27 feet, 6 inches, according to event officials.

Horse pulling used to be a mainstay at the fair and Sunday was the first time it had been held at the event since 1983, said Chuck Nutwell, who said he was asked by fair officials to bring a horse pull back to the fair.

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Some fair events faded from existence as the fair moved locations over the years.

But people had expressed an interest in having the horse pull again, said Nutwell, who added that his grandfather, Charles Shafer, used to compete in horse pulling events in the county.

Ten teams from Pennsylvania and Virginia competed in Sunday's event, but no teams from Maryland entered, Nutwell said.

The teams competing Sunday started with a beginning weight of 2,500 pounds, which they could bypass.

Then the weight was gradually increased as the teams made their way through the competition.

Spectators flowed into a bleacher area at the fair's track and others sat on a grassy hillside on the other side of the track on a hot afternoon to watch the competition.

Among the horse owners competing was George Brindle, a car technician from Chambersburg, Pa.

"I work on Cadillacs during the day and horses at night," Brindle said as he readied his horses before Sunday's competition.

The announcer at the event said many horse owners competing in the pulls have full-time jobs and spend a few hours a day after they get off work training their horses for pulling competitions.

Brindle said he competes in horse pulling events for fun and last year entered in about 27 pulls. Brindle said prize money can be won in the pulls.

"It ain't enough, but they pay," he said.

Delmar Zinn of Newville, Pa., said he competes in about a dozen horse pulls a year.

"It's a sport. You get to see how much power you have," Zinn said.

The fair at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center grounds along Sharpsburg Pike south of Hagerstown is celebrating its 30th year.

Today's events at the fair include a longhorn show at 9:30 a.m., Babies on Parade at 6 p.m. and the Don Schwartz Memorial Farm Tractor Pull at 6:30 p.m.

The fair continues through Thursday.

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