Next week, Clare, Michigan plays host to the 25th edition of Horse Progress Days. This Amish-heavy event celebrates horse farming, horse-drawn equipment, and land stewardship.
Previous editions have seen upwards of 20,000 attend the gathering. The event rotates through a number of locations including Leola, Pennsylvania, Arthur, Illinois, and Mt. Hope, Ohio.
The mission statement of Horse Progress Days is “To encourage and promote the combination of animal power and the latest equipment innovations in an effort to support small scale farming and land stewardship. To show Draft Animal Power is possible, practical, and profitable.”
David Arment gave us a look at the 2016 edition held in northern Indiana which you can see here. David had this description of the wide array of sights to be seen:
It is hard not to characterize the event as “carnival like”, but in the subdued and respectful manner that Amish events seem to enjoy. The food vendors, (with my perpetual favorite being the kettle corn), the demonstrations of everything from tomato growing to exotic animals (camels, lamas and the like) and oxen and donkeys in teams making what appeared to be random appearances on the grounds, all contributed to the feeling of discovery and expectation… What might I see next?
Horse Progress Days organizer Dale K. Stoltzfus elaborates on one of the pluses of horse farming:
Horse farming, by nature, is on the smaller side. One person farming large numbers of acres with horses is not practical. Small farms managed for peak performance support good land stewardship. Production per acre is generally much higher on small, intensely managed farms than on mega farms. Horse farms have the added benefit of horse manure to replenish nutrients taken from the soil when crops are harvested. Small scale farming supports the local community since it may take 10 farmers to farm 1000 acres of land rather than one. Imagine what this kind of farming will do for rural communities as horse farming becomes more commonplace again.
The location for this year’s event is Alvin Yoder’s farm on 7656 East Colonville Road in Clare. Admission is $10 for anyone over the age of 12. Here’s the Horse Progress Days website, where you’ll find the schedule, contact info, and more.