Oct 7, 2022 - Things to Do

All American Quarter Horse Congress now in session

A rider braids his horse's hair while waiting in line to compete.

A rider braids his horse's tail while waiting in line to compete in the roping compeitition Wednesday. Photos: Mary Jane Sanese/Axios

The All American Quarter Horse Congress — the world's largest single-breed horse show — has returned to the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

Why it matters: Event organizers say it brings more than 650,000 people to the area and generates over $400 million for the local economy.

  • There are more than 25,000 entries in the Congress' competitions.

Details: The American quarter horse gets its name from their ability to run the quarter mile faster than any other breed. They're considered versatile for being able to do well in shows, on farms or at the racetrack.

  • The Congress is held here in part because Ohio is home to 33% of the country's horses.
Food stands selling roast beef sundaes and stromboli at the All American Quarter Horse Congress at the Ohio State Fair Grounds.
Vendors selling hot beef sundaes, stromboli and other fair foods at the All American Quarter Horse Congress at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

What's happening: The main outside drag is reminiscent of the Ohio State Fair, with food stands selling roast beef sundaes and lemon shake-ups.

  • The trade show has over 200 vendors — you can come home with cowboy boots or a new RV.

State of play: Darcy Woods of Ontario, Canada, is the 2021 Congress Queen.

  • Her duties include attending the whole event, handing out awards and representing the Congress at other shows around the country throughout the year.
Darcy Woods stands next to an on display horse saddle in front of a large display of All American Quarter Horse Congress Awards
Darcy Woods is the 2021 All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen.

What's more: Michaela Barber from Findlay, Ohio, tells Axios she and her 12-year-old horse, Dallas, have grown up together both in life and in the show ring.

  • The competition has a twist: Riders are randomly assigned to the horse with which they compete.
Michaela Barber stands next to her horse, Dallas.
Michaela Barber and her horse Dallas, waiting in the holding area to compete.

💭 Mary Jane's thought bubble: I was enthralled by the dedication, poise and talent of the riders and their horses, especially the younger ones.

  • The highlight of my time there Wednesday was walking past an upbeat horse trotting along with his rider on their way to the roping competition. The horse threw his nose in the air every few feet, letting out a thrilled neigh. His excitement was contagious.

If you go: The 55th annual Congress runs through Oct. 23 at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. 717 E. 17th Ave. Free!

  • Parking is $25 daily, except Monday-Wednesday, when it's $15. $75 for the entire Congress.
  • Special events, like professional bull riding, require tickets.
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