Draft horses find greener, softer pastures for plowing exhibition
History -- Plowing demonstration will move from Portland Community College to Champoeg State Park May 4 and 5
Some of Oregon's finest draft horses will plow new ground during the annual celebration of the large working horses' agricultural legacy.
The event, now called the Oregon Draft Horse Plowing Exhibition and Competition, will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5, at Champoeg State Park during the park's Founders Day celebrations.
The Washington County Historical Society and Museum sponsored the event for many years at Portland Community College Rock Creek Campus.
'Although we love this event and hate to see it go, it's time for it to move to greener pastures,' said Mark Granlund, the historical society's executive director.
Members of the Oregon Draft Horse Breeders Association said there were a few reasons for moving the event to Champoeg, located southeast of Newberg.
Lyle Spiesschaert, whose father, George, helped start the event 41 years ago, said increasing costs of the event (advertising, portable bathrooms, etc) were forcing the historical society to look at charging admission.
Spiesschaert, who farms near Forest Grove, said the state horse association has always wanted the exhibit to be free, to attract as many people as possible.
In addition, association member Joe Brown noted that most of his group's members want to turn the event back into a competition, which requires better soil.
'The field at Rock Creek was clay and just didn't plow well,' said Brown. 'If you want to do a competition, you need good sandy loam.'
Finally, Brown said, organizers felt that Champoeg's focus on Oregon history was a good fit for the event, which is aimed at showing people how farming was done before the advent of tractors and air-conditioned combines. (Champoeg was the site where Oregon settlers voted to become a state.)
The plowing event, which has previously been held in Forest Grove and McMinnville, will also feature Fort Vancouver blacksmiths plying their trade.
Event admission is free with a $3 day-use fee for access to the entire state park.