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The Budweiser Clydesdales make their way down Barrett Avenue on Aug. 12, 2015. The iconic Clydesdales are scheduled to return to the Missouri State Fair this year. 

One of the most iconic and admired breeds of animals, the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales, are making a return appearance to the Missouri State Fair.

“The world-renowned Budweiser Clydesdales are certainly an icon for our state and Budweiser is a long-time sponsor of the Missouri State Fair,” Missouri State Fair Executive Director Mark Wolfe said. “We are thrilled to have them back at the Fair again this year parading the fairgrounds and on display daily.”

According to a press release from the Missouri State Fair, “The eight-horse hitch will be harnessed and hitched to the famous red beer wagon at the Clydesdale tent east of the Mathewson Exhibition Center on the fairgrounds one hour previous each scheduled parade. On Friday, Aug. 16 and Saturday, Aug. 17 the ‘Gentle Giants’ will open the popular Draft Horse show in the Exhibition Center at 6 p.m.”

County Distributing President Paul Beykirch has been instrumental in securing the Clydesdales for their appearance at the Fair.

“We are very fortunate to have the Clydesdales available for the entire 11-day fair period,” Beykirch said. “There are some years when they are only available for five or six days.”

Beykirch said he has been working with the Clydesdales general manager to secure the team. Unlike their appearance at the 2015 Fair, the team will not arrive in Sedalia in advance of the Fair. Because of this, a parade down Barrett Avenue will not be possible in 2019.

“We were very thankful for the cooperation of the city and all the good people of the Sedalia area for joining us in 2015 (for the local parade),” Beykirch said. “During the Fair, we have a regular parade schedule with a route circling the grounds.

“The Missouri State Fair leadership have been great partners to accommodate the hitch and will have the honor to be included in the opening night parade,” he continued. “Our guest on the hitch that evening will be the Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn, a fifth-generation farmer from Clarence.” 

The Clydesdales’ appearance in Sedalia is one of hundreds made annually by the traveling hitches. 

According to information supplied by Beykirch, “to qualify for one of the traveling hitches, a Budweiser Clydesdale must be a gelding at least four years of age, stand 72 inches at the shoulder when fully mature, weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, have a bay coat, four white legs, a white blaze, and a black mane and tail. A single Clydesdale hitch horse will consume as much as 20-25 quarts of feed, 40-50 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water per day.”

The Clydesdales travel in style. Ten horses are a part of each team. Along with the horses are the famous red, white, and gold 1903 Studebaker-built beer wagon and all necessary equipment transported in three 50-foot tractor trailers. While on the road. The team stops each night at a local stable where the horses can rest.   

Expert groomers and handlers also travel with each hitch. Before receiving the title of Budweiser Clydesdale Hitch Driver, individuals must complete a lengthy training process.

Each hitch weighs a combined 12 tons of wagon and horses. Drivers hold 40 pounds of line. That plus the tension of the horses pulling creates a weight of more than 75 pounds.

Of course, the Clydesdales are not the only iconic part of the team. Dalmatians have ridden atop the wagon since the 1950s. 

“In the early days of brewing, Dalmatians were bred and trained to protect the horses and guard the wagon when the driver went inside to make deliveries,” according to the release.

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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