Contest lures big teams from afar.
Published Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Donít try to tell Gail Hembry his trip to the 2004 Boone County
Fair wasnít worth it.
|David Biggs of
Ashland drives his team of Belgians last night as they compete in
the draft-horse pull at the county fair.
Boone County Fair Slide Show
The resident of Osceola, Iowa, drove to the Boone
County Fairgrounds to compete in last nightís draft-horse pull. When the
2Ĺ-hour competition was all said and done, Hembry was sixth out of 10
competitors, taking home $80.
That was good news to Hembry, even though he
still faced a 266-mile trip home. Thatís about the equivalent of 93,000
horse pulls measuring 15 feet each, but itís a little easier on his
"Iíll be tired before I get back home," Hembry
Hembry didnít come to the fair for the glory,
fame or big prizes.
The county fair runs through Saturday
at the fairground, 5212 N. Oakland Gravel Road. Gates open at 4
p.m. Admission is $3.
● 4 p.m., dairy & meat goat show
● 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., candidate debates: Missouri Senate and 25th
● 6 p.m., carnival opens
● 8 p.m. talent show, preliminary round
In fact, heíll be the first to tell you his
finish in last nightís competition is normal for him. "I havenít won a
pull yet this year," he said. "The best I ever got was second, but you
just keep trying."
Hembry loves training his two 10-year-old
Belgians, Duke and Jerry, on his 120-acre farm. He says itís hard work to
train the tandem every day, loading weights on a practice sled or a wagon.
He compares the regimen to that of a weightlifter, starting with light
loads and gradually increasing the weight to build the horsesí muscles.
Itís something heís been doing for 15 years. He
grew up around horses and draft-horse pulling - his father and uncle were
also interested in the hobby.
If the field at the Boone County Fair draft-horse
competition was any indication, horse pulling is a family matter.
Last nightís first- and second-place finishers,
Justin and Joey Garrett, respectively, are brothers from the Texas County
town of Success. They said their grandfather taught them what they know
about draft-horse pulling.
"Some people are interested in cars, pickups and
the tractor pulls," Hembry said. "I like the horses."
Walter and Rebecca Minner of Columbia said they
started attending the draft-horse contests five or six years ago and have
attended every year since then.
Each year, they pick their favorite competitors
and cheer them on to victory.
Even though large tractors have taken the place
of most draft horses on farms, the draft-horse contests donít seem to be
The Minners said they have never paid to watch
one of the fairís tractor pulls; theyíre horse people.
And Hembry said he wonít stop driving to horse
pulls anytime soon. He likes to compete in competitions across north
Missouri and south Iowa, including the Missouri and Iowa state fairs.
"Thereís probably two or three pulls a week, if a
guy wanted to go to them all," he said.