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A Germantown Tradition 75 Years Strong   

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By Ellie Pritchard 
Special to The Germantown News & Shelby Sun Times

Pictured above: Ellie on her former horse, Chip, who became a service horse and is now retired.  Courtesy Photo

If you venture down Poplar Pike during early June, you’re liable to be stuck behind a tractor  that beckons you to follow it, both by curiosity and the giant green sign offering such an  invitation. No, it isn’t leading you to a tractor show, like that boat show that the Midsouth  boasts about. Instead, if, by chance, you give in to whimsy and pull into the makeshift grass  parking lot, you will be stepping into tradition. Most establishments cannot boast 75 years of  continuation, let alone 75 years of roaring success. So, what is so special about the  Germantown Charity Horse Show?  

It’s impossible to understand the show as it is now without knowing some of the history. It  began right after the second World War when the world was trying to right itself and people  were trying to find something to celebrate. And so, some local riders, including Sunny Foster  and Bart Mueller, began a small show in 1948. That small show continued for years, becoming a charity organization soon after it was started, and growing to become the landmark show that  it is today. 

The horses are, of course, one of the most important and memorable parts of the show.  Somewhere around 700 horses compete in the show each year, with many different breeds  represented. It’s impossible not to cheer for the underdog miniature ponies during the carriage  races, just as it is equally difficult to pick a favorite in the adorable costume contest, what with  the tiny kids in extravagant costumes and the horses serving as steady mounts for the youngest  show participants.  

The other, well-renowned part of the Charity is the community. Tons of people participate,  from the jump crews and riders to the enthusiastic spectators. Author William Faulkner visited  in 1950 strolling the grounds before you. When you walk down the gravel path beside the arena, you are bombarded with senses: the smells of horses and fried food, the sounds of  cheering and laughter, the taste of whatever fair-style delicacy is currently in your hand, the touch of dirt beneath your shoes and the sun setting through the trees. Take the time to smile  at a Princess, maybe even get your picture made with one. I have seen old friends at the show, made new friends there too, and spent cherished times there with my family, including the year  when we listened to a racehorse win the Triple Crown on the loudspeaker. I have never missed  a chance to go to the Charity, because when you combine horses, friends, and food with  tradition, there can be nothing better.  

75 years is a long time for a horse show to go on, but if you’ve experienced the Charity, you  know exactly why these first 75 are only the beginning of Germantown’s best horse show’s  legacy. And, if you haven’t experienced the Charity before, take my advice and sit back, relax  and enjoy the show. Here, where family fun combines with tradition for an occasion sweeter  than the Commissary’s tea, it’s relaxed, elegant, and never disappoints. This 75th year will be a  memory to cherish. We’re so glad you’re here. 

About the author:  Ellie Pritchard is a rising junior at Westminster Academy who loves history, reading and writing. She has attended the Germantown Charity Horse Show since she was one and has ridden both English and western, and shown her Welsh pony locally. She’s an active member of her church. Ellie shoots trap, plays volleyball and golf.  She loves the South and traveling on adventures with her family and friends. 

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