SALINA — Equifest 2020, the premier equestrian event for Kansas, is coming to Salina Friday through Sunday. It will bring together as many as 5,000 people each day to the Tony’s Pizza Event Center and the Saline County Livestock and Expo Center to celebrate horses, and much more.
This is the 23rd year of Equifest, but the first year in Salina, in what the Chamber’s Visit Salina staff hopes will be a long-term home.
The event could mean $850,000 in economic development value for Salina.
“Equifest is a three-year event for Salina, but I am always striving for a long-term commitment,” said Jo Ann McClure, with Visit Salina.
Equifest is organized by the Kansas Horse Council, as its signature event and major annual fundraiser. Justine Staten is the executive director.
Susan Trafton, general manager of Tony’s Pizza Event Center, credits the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce Visit Salina team, along with Saline County commissioners and Expo staff with working together to show the Kansas Horse Council that Salina would be a great site for Equifest 2020.
Trafton equates the size of the event with the annual Mid America Farm Expo.
“We’ll bring dirt into the arena on Tuesday, after a weekend of state wrestling,” Trafton said.
At 5:15 p.m. Friday, a parade of breeds will take place in the Arena. This will give attendees the chance to see a large variety of horse breeds all at once. Over the three days, there will be about 150 horses at the show.
One of the highlights will be the Ranch Rodeo at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The participants are working ranchers and farmers. They compete in teams that will demonstrate skills they need on the ranch, like team sorting and trailer loading.
It’s also fun for the audience when calves don’t cooperate or when cowboys struggle to milk a wild cow. The competition is intense. Several teams from out of state will be competing with Kansas cowboys for bragging rights.
Adrian Brannan, singer-songwriter, will perform each night during intermission of the Travalum 2020 Ranch Rodeo.
Another unique event is the State of Kansas Farriers Competition, which will be in Barn 2 of the Saline County Livestock & Expo Center starting at 9 a.m. Friday and continuing Saturday. The farriers will have forges burning. They start with a raw piece of steel and pound it into horseshoes.
“This is what they use for prep before they go to their national competition,” Staten said. “They will do three different parts in this competition, and that includes live shoeing.”
One of the special events is the first Legendary Kansas Horsemen at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Hall of Famers C.A. Cofer, Duane Walker, Denny Hassett and the Million Dollar Reiner, Brent Wright will participated in a Q&A session moderated by local veterinarian Stan O’Neil.
For the non-equestrian, “It’s the splendor of seeing horses,” Staten said. “It’s kind of a magical time to see horses prancing around in the arena.”