Shared from the 10/13/2016 The Columbus Dispatch eEdition


Horses take over town


Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther trots down High Street on Wednesday as part of the All American Quarter Horse Congress parade. It’s the Congress’ 50th year, and in that time, it’s brought about 700 million people and $7.5 billion into Ohio. BROOKE LAVALLEY/DISPATCH


Lauren Harrington, the 2015 Quarter Horse Congress queen, sits in the back of a truck at the start of the All American Quarter Horse Congress parade on Wednesday.


If you go

What: All American Quarter Horse Congress

Where: Ohio Expo Center, 17th Avenue at Interstate 71

When: Through Oct. 30

Admission: $25 per vehicle per day or $70 for entire show; $15 per vehicle on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays

What you get: Admission to most competitions and access to more than 225 vendors

More information: or 614-294-0244

Their field trip to the Ohio Theatre was interrupted by the peculiar clip-clop of horse hooves trotting down High Street.

The children from St. Catharine School, near Bexley, didn’t seem to mind. They crowded onto the street corner to jump, holler and wave excitedly at the horses parading down the street Wednesday morning. A few of the kids in plaid skirts and polo shirts even got the opportunity to pet some of the animals.

“I’ve never seen a horse in the street before,” cheered Ava Bruck, 7, admiring the girls in dazzling sequined show jackets.

Her classmate James Lyons, 7, chimed in: “Listen to those police cars — whoop! Whoop!”

At the front of the Downtown spectacle was Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and other state and local officials on horseback, who traded their usual suits and ties for denim jackets, cowboy boots and ten-gallon hats.

They led the procession to celebrate the 50th anniversary and rich history of the All American Quarter Horse Congress. The annual, monthlong event at the Ohio Expo Center is the world’s largest single-breed horse show. This year’s Congress opened last Thursday and runs until Oct. 30.

“For this city boy, what a thrill,” joked Ginther, a Columbus native, who rode in the parade atop Connor, a 17-year-old horse from Sunbury.

Groups of onlookers lined High and Broad streets to gawk at the unusual sight and take photographs with their cellphones.

The All American Quarter Horse Congress has grown into Columbus’ largest convention and has been a tradition for nearly one-fourth of the city’s existence. Over the past 50 years, the Congress has brought an estimated 700 million people and $7.5 billion into Ohio, officials said at a news conference at Columbus City Hall that followed the parade. This year’s event is expected to attract more than 650,000 people and 6,500 horses and inject more than $275 million into the region’s economy.

Officials praised that impact and encouraged people to attend the family-friendly event.

Olivia Tordoff, 15, of Powell, and Ellexxah Maxwell, 16, of West Mansfield, held a banner and represented Congress competitors in Wednesday’s parade.

The Congress is about the contests as much as it’s about coming together as a community, they said.

“It’s so exciting to see so many people across the country experience this event together,” said Ellexxah, a lifelong competitor. “We’ve become one big family.” @AlissaWidman

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