Remembering the Oak Ridge Horse Show Today:It was an Easter Monday Tradition for many years!!!(Looking back at the history of this event)

Posted by Andy Durham on April 13, 2020 at 12:34 pm under Amateur, Professional | Comments are off for this article

The Oak Ridge Horse Show will not be held this year due the the Coronavirus/COVID-19, but it will be returning in 2021 and it will be held at Steeple Hill Farm…

A message from the Oak Ridge Horse Show Association:
We will get past this ! Looking forward to April 2021 and the Oak Ridge Easter Horse Show returning…Set for April 2 and 3, 2021…

**********The Oak Ridge Horse Show was a big event back in the day and Easter Monday was always the showcase day of the event…**********The first Oak Ridge Horse Show held on Easter Monday, April 22, 1946……

I can remember names such as Buster Linville and Mac Peoples, as leaders of the event back in the day….Easter Monday would find crowds in the 100’s and often times reaching up towards the thousands, attending this outdoor event….

Back in it’s heyday, the Oak Ridge Horse Show would run on Easter Weekend, with the horse show covering Easter Saturday and Easter Monday, and Sunday was to be a day off, for rest and worship…

Monday was the BIG day of the horse show and it all would take place at the Oak Ridge Elementary School…Activities would get underway at around 8am, and there were beautiful horses all over their grounds there at the Oak Ridge Elementary School, but for me, the highlight of the day was when they would have the calf-roping event at 12 Noon…

The calf-roping event would have a bunch of teenage boys gather in the corral which was the Oak Ridge Elementary School baseball field infield, and the teenage boys would line up behind a special drawn-up line, and wait for them to turn loose the young calves, and then the boys would try and be the first one to rope the calf, and bring the calf back across the starting line….

There would be around 15-20 boys going for the those calves and there would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-6 calves trying to avoid being drug across that finish line…

The event would be described as a calf-roping contest, but it would usually be advertised as a “Calf-Scramble”…The “Calf-Scramble”, that feature event was always more than worth the price of admission to the horse show…

Our “Calf-Scramble” leader would be L.L. Pharris, who was the farm-hand leader of Hillside Farms…Hillside Farms was owned by the Ralph Price/Joseph Bryan Family and the Hillside Farms is now the current Cardinal Residential Community…L.L. Pharris was a tough farm-hand and he was the perfect choice to lead and direct the calf-scramble…Pharris ran that Hillside Farms and they were one of the largest cattle farms in the area, back in those days of the 1960’s and 1970’s…

Pharris ran the cattle farm, but there were dairy farms scattered all over the Oak Ridge Road landscape…You had two Knight Dairy Farms, one with Charlie and Clarence Knight, and the other with Wyatt and Cleo Knight running the dairy farm…You had the John Smith Dairy Farm, there was one with the Crutchfields, you had the Cummings Dairy Farm and there were just some many dairy farms scattered around the Oak Ridge Road area back in those days, nobody, and I mean nobody, was ever going thirsty, due to the lack of milk….

You had those dairy farms and there were the cattle farms, like the one that L.L. Pharris ran there at Hillside Farms, which is now the Cardinal Community…

Farms dotted the entire map of Northwest Guilford county back in those days of the 60’s and 70’s…Horse farms, at least those high-quality horse farms, were usually reserved for those who had money and they were keeping up horses for a hobby….You didn’t find too many wild west horse farms out there in Northwest Guilford county back in those days…

Many of the recreational/hobby horse farms were owned by doctors and lawyers and high-end professionals….There were would barns that kept up horses, and you had your fair share of riding stables back in those days….Riding stables would house the horses for a fee, and then the owners would come out to the corral or the riding trails, and ride the horses as their time allowed, usually on the weekends…

You had the horse farms, you had the riding stables and if a farm had show horses, that group was the money group, or they better have some way to get their hands of some money, because raising show horses wasn’t cheap….

But the horse owners would flock to the Oak Ridge Horse Show on Easter Weekend to show their horses…

The Oak Ridge Horse Show had all kinds of show classes, with equestrian horse riders, you people walking with their horses as they showed them, you had work horses that were being shown, and don’t forget, when it hit “High Noon”, they had the famous “Calf-Scramble”….I think that the “Calf-Scramble” was eventually scrapped due to some outside interference from a PETA oriented group, but I am not totally sure…..

For sure, the Oak Ridge Horse Show was so BIG, that you had to have a program to keep up with it all…The Oak Ridge Horse Show program was a “must-have” item…You would turn the pages on that horse show program, so you could keep up with all that was going on at the same time…

Man, that Oak Ridge Horse Show was some kind of major event for the communities around Oak Ridge and northwest Guilford County, back in the 60’s and 70’s…Another feature that was part of the Easter Monday festivities was the Fiddler’s Convention, held inside the Oak Ridge Elementary School, and it came on Easter Monday night, after all of the daytime horse show activities were complete..

The Fiddler’s Convention/Music Convention would bring musicians into Oak Ridge from far-and-wide…I never made it to the music show part of the Oak Ridge Horse Show, but you could hear them warming up in the background, as you were walking out and heading home for the day…

I also remember another feature that caught many a horse show attendees’ attention and that was the display of farm equipment…They would have tractors and farm equipment/machinery on display, and that was always a treat to see the John Deere green tractors, the Farmall Tractors, Ford Tractors, the Massey Fergusons, the International-Harvesters, the B.F. Averys and other tractors on display….They even had some plows, hay balers, mowing machines, combines, and other equipment for all to see…

Over the years, the Oak Ridge Horse Show got away from the farming and cattle element of their event, and began to lean more toward the showing of big-dollar horses and equestrian-related horse riding….

The horse show also moved to a Friday and Saturday weekend, and got away from the Saturday and Monday schedule….Good Friday replaced Easter Monday, as one of the key days of the Oak Ridge Horse Show….

Back in its heyday, every farmer in northwest Guilford County had that Easter Monday space marked on his calendar, and come heck or high water, he would be there at the Oak Ridge Elementary School, for the Oak Ridge Horse Show on this day, Easter Monday….

There was great food there too back in the day, with the hot dogs and BBQ, being at the top of the menu, and I think they used to serve some kind of BBQ Chicken Dinner on Easter Monday nights.

Political candidates would show up, and work the horse show crowds…The Oak Ridge Horse Show could make or break your campaign, if you were a candidate for Guilford County Commissioner…The sheriff had to make an appearance and often times, you would even see state-wide political candidates, making their rounds and walking the grounds, at the Oak Ridge Horse Show…

As you can tell by now, this was a major Guilford County event…..

Times have changed, but back in the day this was the premiere event for all of the horses, calves and farmers in Guilford County….

Let’s take all of this talk about the history of the Oak Ridge Horse Show a step further, and look back to how it all got started…..

It was early 1945, when a group of Oak Ridge men, leisurely sitting around the old pot-belled stove at Linville’s Store, came up with the idea of a community horse show. To answer the question of how to raise money for a new church, Charlie Oakley, a local resident, suggested a horse show, the proceeds of which should go to the Oak Ridge Methodist Church building fund. It didn’t take long to hasten this idea and plans were begun for the first Oak Ridge Horse Show held on Easter Monday, April 22, 1946, with D. Lan Donnell as the first chairman.

The shows’ sponsorship was given unique backing when the Methodist Church Superintendent, Dr. Lambeth, gave the event his blessings and promptly called it the “Consecrated Horse Show.” The entire proceeds of the first five shows went to the building fund of Oak Ridge Methodist Church .

The show first began largely with an eye on the proceeds and the two day long event still points to community needs and interests. Through the years, Oak Ridge Elementary School has received in excess of $200,000, with a substantial amount of this going to the building of the gymnasium. The summer recreation program, little league baseball, the Oak Ridge Youth Association, local scouts, and Northwest High and Middle School programs have received a great deal of financial support from this show through the years. A local high school senior is the recipient of the Oak Ridge Horse Show Scholarship Fund. The net proceeds of the show are shared equally between the Oak Ridge Fire Department, the Oak Ridge Ladies Fire Auxiliary, and the Oak Ridge Community Center .


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