Photo Essay Book Features Draft Horse Classic

Good news, draft horse fans! Photographer Sandy Powell recently released a photo essay book – Cowboy Culture: Capturing the Spirit of the Old West in the Sierra Nevada – that includes 23 chapters of photos and stories of Wagon Trains, Mule-packing, Overland Mail Stagecoaches, Pony Express Re-Ride, Big Hitches, the 20 Mule Team, Bishop Mule Days, and much more. There’s even a chapter dedicated to the Draft Horse Classic! Copies of the book are available locally at The Book Seller or directly from Sandy at Sandy Powell Western Photography. Congratulations, Sandy, and thanks for including the Classic in this fun-filled book!

Categories: Draft Horse Classic, Events, and Nevada County Fairgrounds.

2020 Draft Horse Classic Canceled

Press Release


Contact: Patrick Eidman, CEO, Nevada County Fairgrounds
(530) 273-6217; 


Due to continued COVID-19 restrictions on mass gatherings, the Nevada County Fairgrounds Board of Directors voted Tuesday evening to cancel the 2020 Draft Horse Classic.

The Board made the decision to cancel the event after further reviewing the Governors executive orders and guidance regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and mass gatherings. According to the California Roadmap to Recovery, festivals, big outdoor events, and other large events are in Stage 4 of the reopening plan and will not be permitted until the roadmap is complete and all shelter in place restrictions are lifted. The Draft Horse Classic, which typically welcomes more than 15,000 to the Fairgrounds for the event, is considered a mass gathering event under the current guidelines.

“Unfortunately, similar to the decision we had to make for the Fair, we really didn’t have a choice in light of the restrictions on mass gatherings at this time,” said Jeanette Royal, Board President of California’s 17th District Agricultural Association. “Still, it doesn’t make the decision any easier, as each event canceled has an impact on its participants, the community and the Fairgrounds, and it is disheartening to have to cancel another of our premier events. However, we have to follow the guidelines set by the Governor and State public health directives to postpone mass gatherings until we can safely host them again.”

This is the third time that the Draft Horse Classic has been canceled since its introduction in 1987. It was cancelled in 1988 due to the 49er Fire and in 1989 due to weather.

“The amazing Gentle Giant monument that stands at the entry to the Fairgrounds speaks to the special significance the Classic has to the Fairgrounds. Each year, we recognize and honor the incredible history of heavy working horses and their role in local agriculture and forestry,” said Patrick Eidman, CEO of the Nevada County Fairgrounds. “We will miss our draft horse exhibitors and providing our community the opportunity to interact with those big beautiful horses, but we look forward to safely welcoming back the Classic in 2021.”

For more information about the Draft Horse Classic or the Nevada County Fairgrounds, visit 

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Categories: Draft Horse Classic.

Introducing the 2020 Draft Horse Classic Poster

Introducing the 2020 Draft Horse Classic poster! This year’s artwork was created by talented artist Katherine Plumer and is titled “Rosebud.” Katherine is a long-time exhibitor at Art at the Classic and Rosebud is well-known at the Classic. A perfect match and the artwork is stunning! Thank you, Katherine, for the beautiful artwork! And a big thank you to Kial James for the poster design.  

Categories: Draft Horse Classic, Events, and Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Draft Horse Classic Awards Announced

Awards for the 33rd annual Draft Horse Classic, held September 19 – 22 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, have been announced. Larry Honsberger of Elmore, Ohio judged the Draft Horse classes, which took place during the six performances over the four-day event. Almost 40 draft horse exhibitors – traveling from California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia – competed at the show for more than $35,000 in premium awards.

The winner of the Ultimate Hitch Award was Unhitched Ranch of Colton, CA. Audrey Popoff, also of Unhitched Ranch, won the Susan Parnell High Point Award.

The Teamster of the Year Award, as well as the Top Hand Ranch Teamster Award, was presented to Susan McCarty of Live Oak Belgians, based in Upper Lake, CA. Josh Albrecht won the Youth of the Show award.

The Best of Show winner at Art at the Classic, which featured almost 50 artists, was Katherine Plumer of Wilton, CA for her colored pencil art titled “Rosebud.” The People’s Choice award also went to Katherine.

The winner in the 2019 Edward Martin Perpetual Horseshoeing Competition was Darby Holden.

At the Harvest Fair, more than 700 items were entered, including scarecrows, arts and crafts, fresh fruits and vegetables, produce characters, jellies and jams, and baked goods. People’s Choice winners include Jim Drew in the Baked Foods Division, Kristi Bashor for Preserved Foods, Katie Savage for Youth/Teen Arts and Crafts, Joan Fowle for Artistic Flowers and Garden, Jon Robinson for Scarecrows, Justin Larsen for Arts & Crafts by People with Special Needs, and Lyn Muth for Nevada County Grown.

A complete list of 2019 Draft Horse Classic awards, as well as all the Harvest Fair winners, can be found here.

The 2020 Draft Horse Classic is scheduled for September 17 – 20, 2020. Tickets will go on sale May 1, 2020.

Meadowlake Belgians – winner of the 2019 Six-Up Hitch Championship. Photo by Lenkaland Photography

Unhitched Ranch – winner of the 2019 Ultimate Hitch Award. Photo by Lenkaland Photography

Categories: Draft Horse Classic, Events, and Nevada County Fairgrounds.

33rd Annual Draft Horse Classic and Harvest Fair

Don’t miss the 33rd Annual Draft Horse Classic and Harvest Fair happening September 19-22! This year’s Classic will have six spectacular performances featuring a variety of horses, exhibitors, hitches, and farm wagons and carriages. In between classes, guests can will enjoy performances from Romano: the Andalusian Stallion, Gladius the Show, CHP Mounted Patrol and more! While you’re here, make sure to visit the barns, check out the Harvest Fair exhibits, grab a bite to eat, enjoy live music on the Pine Tree Stage and browse the Western Trade Show! See you at the Classic!

Categories: Draft Horse Classic, Events, and Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Draft Horse Classic Artwork

Wondering who created the awesome artwork featured at this year’s Draft Horse Classic? The artist is Liz Hendrix, and she’ll have a booth selling her paintings and other beautiful pieces at the Classic this year! Liz had a previous piece chosen to represent the 2017 Classic as well, and she won the People’s Choice Award! Make sure to say hello to Liz and view all her amazing artwork!

Categories: Draft Horse Classic.

Western Music Fest at the Classic

Don’t miss the free musical entertainment at the Draft Horse Classic. Music begins at noon on Friday and Saturday and at 11 am on Sunday. This year, we have a great lineup of country, bluegrass and honky-tonk music, as well as cowboy comedians and poets who will surely entertain you! And best of all, it’s FREE, so stop by and grab a bite to eat while enjoying the music!

Categories: Draft Horse Classic.

Harvest Fair Exhibits!

You still have a week left to enter an exhibit at the Draft Horse Classic and Harvest Fair! If you’re a gardener, artist, baker or craft lover who wants to show off your skills, submit an entry form online or stop by the Fairgrounds office anytime Monday through Friday from 8 am-5 pm (please note, the cutoff time for entering an exhibit on September 13 is 4 pm). Click here for more information!

Categories: Announcements, Draft Horse Classic, and Nevada County Fairgrounds.