The 12th annual US Draft Horse and Mule Plowing Contest was held on October 22, 2016 at Olympia, Kentucky
on the farm of Mike and Joyce Downs. There were plowers on hand from several states to compete in 7 different classes. The first competitor
arrived on Wednesday in order to get some practice time in before the competition began. There had been no rain in this area for several weeks, but the fields used
for the competition had been under a soybean crop until the last minute. The beans were harvested on Wednesday afternoon and the first furrow in the practice area was
made before the end of the day. There was about 3/4 inch of rain overnight on Thursday which helped to settle the dust and made things a little sloppy for those that
arrived early on Thursday. It had no serious impact on the plowing as it soaked in rather quickly. On Friday, the students from Asbury University were on hand to assist Galen Neal
in laying out the plots. (These same students along with some from Morehead University were also there to help with parking cars, etc. on Saturday.) There was plenty of plowing
practice on Thursday afternoon and throughout the day on Friday followed by the competitors dinner on Friday evening in Mike and Joyce's barn. The food prepared by the Bath County
Extention Office was excellent and there were door prizes to be handed out. Finally, the competitors selected their plots for the competition on Saturday.
Saturday dawned beautiful with perfect weather for plowing. Temperatures for the day promised to top out around 60(F). Representatives of the Bluegrass Antique Machinery Association
were on hand with some of their antique tractors to do some demonstration plowing alongside of the horse plowing. The first horse plower hit their plot about 10:30 AM and
there was constant activity from then until late afternoon. The 3 judges (and your photographer) were running around like crazy for the rest of the day trying to cover everything.
My only concern is that I may have missed someone or may not have many photos of some of the competitors. If that is the case, I apologize in advance. The final plot was finished and
the total scores determined just prior to sunset and the awards were handed out. The coveted High Points Award again went to Mr. Mike Atkins who has won this award several times over the
years with his outstanding team of mules. As soon as the awards ceremony was completed, many of the competitors hit the road to head for home. A few, however, spent the
night and attended Oren Perdue's very moving church service on Sunday morning before they started home.
This year's event went great! It takes a lot of work to put something like this on and Mike and Joyce have been working on it for almost a year in order to get
things lined up and to find sponsors, etc. Having the event at this time of year worked out well as the temperatures were perfect, the scenery was beautiful with the
leaves changing color, and most importantly, the ground was in almost ideal shape. While Mike joked that there were no rocks here, a few folks did find some small rocks, but
I didn't hear one complaint from anyone about the plot they had to plow. I want to personally thank Mike and Joyce for their hospitality and also say that there seemed to be
a lot of folks who stated that they hoped that Mike and Joyce would be willing to host the 13th annual event next year!
Click the links below to see photos from this event!