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Horse Progress Days celebrates the ‘good ol’ days’

HOWE, IN -- On July 1 and 2, the Michiana Event Center (MEC) played host to several thousand guests as Horse Progress Days came to Howe, IN. This annual event draws many who appreciate the ‘old-fashioned’ farming techniques that involve horses and were popular years ago. Through the efforts of these organizers and others, this method of farming is becoming more commonplace.

At 7:30 a.m., a mere hour into the two-day event, the traffic was backed up and the line to enter the grounds long. For ten dollars a person, anyone was able to enjoy all the programming and displays that had been prepared for the expected crowd. Once granted entrance, the sights and sounds could easily overwhelm but it didn’t take long to acclimate to the environment.

The most obvious tent was where the food was located with a breakfast buffet offering juice, milk, coffee, scrambled eggs, ham, sausage patties, biscuits, sausage gravy, pancakes, hash brown patties, and donuts. The lunch and dinner menus included grilled chicken, chicken patty sandwiches, hamburgers, French fries, and salads. Other treats available on the grounds were homemade ice cream, root beer floats, nachos, and fry pies with all the proceeds from the food sales going to support the special education program in the Amish schools in northern Indiana.

Meanwhile, the center was full of vendors offering all things relating to horses and more. Whatever is required and desired to care for horses was being sold. A large area was devoted to horse-drawn implements and wagons. Feeds and fencing were also options for the attendees. Services such as chiropractic care were discussed and dozens of volumes were available for sale at the bookstores that were set up to do business.

Though equine agricultural practices were the main focus, sustainable living played a big part in the items for sale and the programming. Throughout the grounds, areas were established for demonstrations and talks. Within the MEC, a round pen was prepared for specific horse-related talks. A Homemaker’s area featured items for the home and food presentations concerning homemade bread, raw milk, fermentation and a chicken butchering demonstration were held on the stage in that area.

The seminars were an extension of the outdoor activities with information on fall crops, beekeeping, organic farming, and cover crops. A special presentation was shared with international guests talking about their experiences with horses and agricultural practices.

On the southernmost portion of the grounds, horse-powered logging was demonstrated including tree felling and log skidding. Machinery demonstrations were held in the demonstration field and worked through the entire process of planting and harvesting a field. The greenhouse was the place to get a tour and learn about the benefits of growing produce inside.

The most unusual of the offerings was a herding demonstration. This was not only the expected sheep herding but also an entertaining presentation of dogs corralling cows.

Next year, Horse Progress Days will be held in Pennsylvania.