Saturday's festivals brought variety and fun to area

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By John Barnhart

Two festivals, held Saturday, complemented each other, rather than competed.

Johnson’s Orchards held it’s annual Horse and Hound Wine Festival. Danny Johnson noted that this was a significant anniversary for them as this year marks the orchards’ 80th anniversary operating at it’s current location in Thaxton. Johnson said that his father, Elmo Johnson, and grandfather, Robert Lee Johnson, purchased the property in 1918.

Approximately 4,000 people and between 300 and 400 dogs showed up. This is a festival that people can bring both their children and their furry buddies to. It includes a number of canine contests, including lure chasing and agility competition, that gives two-legged attendees the opportunity to show what their four-legged friends can do.

The Sheriff’s Office was on hand with one of it’s dogs, a Belgian Shepherd named Jericho. Jericho got to stay in air conditioning while his handler, Deputy J. Reynolds had to stand out in the 95 degree heat and humidity. Reynolds was there to provide security for the event.

The horse portion has a parade of horses with information on each breed shown. Entries ranged from miniature horses to a giant Percheron draft horse.

There were also some breeds you don’t see often, such as Leah Coffman’s Peruvian Paso horse, named Quixote. Quixote is nine-years-old and he and Coffman have been together for seven years. They are members of Commonwealth Search and Rescue and have gone out on searches.

“We come to look for your missing persons and there’s no charge for it,” Coffman said.

The search and rescue members are all volunteers and provide their own horses. Coffman said that she and Quixote have ridden 3,000 miles together.

Quixote is also protective. Coffman said that she injured a knee awhile back and Quixote has since been careful to avoid any situation that would endanger her knee. She notes that the horse understands what’s appropriate for various situations.

According to Coffman, there are only 15,000 Peruvian Pasos in the United States. Prior to 1970, they couldn’t be exported from Peru. They were bred from horses that the Spanish brought with them to Peru and an easy-going temperament is one of the breed’s characteristics. They are considered to be one of the smoothest and most pleasurable riding horses in existence. They were bred to be able to carry a rider over long distances through harsh terrain.

The wine side was represented by eight vineyards, including all of Bedford County’s. Wine was available for tasting and for sale.

Part of the wine festival’s proceeds benefited Commonwealth Search and Rescue, a mounted volunteer search and rescue organization, Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue, and the Bedford Humane Society. The humane society also brought a couple of very affectionate dogs that were looking for a good home.

While the wine festival went on, Sedalia held a Blues festival with 1,300 people in attendance. The festival was also a competition. Biscuit Rollers came in first in the band category and Tom Beardslee won the solo/duo competition. Beardslee provides an example of the quality of talent that performed. He comes from Columbus, Ohio, and performs all over the world. The day after the festival in Sedalia, he boarded a plane and headed for Moscow, Russia, to perform there.