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Horse lovers and exhibitors gathered in Bluefield’s Lotito City Park Thursday evening to kick off the 45th Annual Shriners Horse Show.
Visitors from multiple states as well as the local area came out to participate in the various events as well as cheer on their friends and family. Mike Vinciguerra of the Bluefield Shrine Club said visitors had registered from Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and both of the Virginias.
“We have 124 classes of competition and more than 200 horses competing over the course of the three days,” Vinciguerra said. “This brings visitors from all over. They started arriving Tuesday morning.”
Vinciguerra said the proceeds from the event all go to benefit a very good cause.
“This helps all of the activities of the Shriners including transporting children in need to hospitals,” he said. “We take children to the orthopedic hospital in Lexington, Ky. and to the burn hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.”
During the opening ceremonies, the Shrine Club also presented a check of $1,000 to the city of Bluefield’s Parks and Recreation Department as a thank you for all their support with putting on the horse show.
Patty Hylton of Beckley said she came to the horse show as part of Bluefield-based Carousel Farms.
“We come from all three days,” she said. “I have been coming here all my life. Now my daughters are showing horses as well. It’s a family tradition for us. We have 15 horses with us. We have been working to set up since yesterday. I love the variety of classes the show offers. The five-gaited class is probably my favorite.”
Alyssa Burnette came as a part of the team from Fort Chiswell Stables in Wythe County.
“We have five horses at present, but we will have eight total here by Saturday,” she said. “We will be mainly doing rope ponies and pleasure horses. I think rope ponies is my favorite event. It’s an every year thing for us. It’s relaxing and competing is fun. We get to meet a lot of different people and see what other groups are doing.”
Jody Sargeant of Princeton said he and his family came to meet with other horse lovers.
“We love the horses,” he said. “We would do this every weekend if we could. It’s a good competition and it gives the kids something positive to do.”
Sharon Gordon of Bland, Va., said she enjoys getting to meet fellow riders at the show.
“We are all here to ride and because we love horses,” she said. “We have five horses right now, but we will be changing them out each day. I rode in this show when I was young. I rode in the very first horse show they had. Now my daughter is a trainer. We all enjoy each other’s company and everyone here likes to have fun.”
The Shriners Horse Show will continue at Lotito Park today starting at 6:30 p.m. Competition will continue Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. with championship classes starting at 6 p.m.
— Contact Kate Coil at email@example.com