The second annual Festival of the Horse was a roaring (or should I say “neighing”) success! Everyone worked hard for months preparing for the event, and for the three days of the festival, there was something going on practically every minute. On Thursday evening of last week, we all got together to celebrate – on a hayride!
Around 40 people (men, women, and children) met in front of the library to climb aboard two wagons waiting to transport us half-way around the island to British Landing and the Cannonball Restaurant. Jack and Terrie Armstrong, who own the Cannonball, had a feast waiting for us, and now I know why the hayrides Jack and Terrie offer every Friday and Saturday evening to the Cannonball for dinner have been so popular this summer.
One side of wagon "one" loaded up fast. Everyone wanted to be on the side facing the water for the ride out to British Landing.
The wagon was pretty packed - we filled in on both sides and sat on the hay bales that ran down the middle of the flatbed.
There were plenty of kids on the second wagon - mostly 4-H Club youngsters. A few "grown-ups" were lucky enough to get to ride with the young folks.
My friend Jill made sure she was on top of the hay bales so she could get lots of good photos.
It's strange how conditioned I've gotten to seeing the island from one perspective. Riding along M-185 at dusk was something I'd never done, and everything looked different - the school and the Round Island Passage Light . . .
. . . and the Round Island Light. Seen from this angle, it appears to be the only light in the Straits.
The second wagon stayed pretty close behind us. Occasionally some of the girls would jump off that wagon, race up to our group, and jump on the back. Then they would jump off, run ahead of our wagon, and . . .
. . . the next time we would see them they would be building stone stacks near the shoreline. They always managed to catch up with a wagon before we were too far ahead. Ahhh - to be young again!
We can bike the 8.2 miles around the island in an hour (if we don't stop to photograph something or get some fried dill pickles at the Cannonball), but the four miles to British Landing took almost an hour. The two beautiful Belgians who pulled our wagon traveled slightly slower than we do on the bikes, which just gave us more time to enjoy the peace of a Mackinac Island evening. At one point, dark clouds overhead made us think we might get to ride on wet hay coming back, but the clouds passed right over us without a drop falling.
We arrived at the Cannonball to find another whole group of volunteers who had biked out, cutting through the center of the island and beating us there.
The food on the buffet was wonderful - BBQ chicken, BBQ ribs, potato salad, fresh grilled corn, rolls, and at the end - hot fudge sundaes!
That's Jack Armstrong in the yellow shirt - checking to make sure everyone has everything they need.
Looking down the rows of tables - good friends enjoying good food!
Jack and Terrie, with a group of happy, full hayriders.
The horses and their drivers (who ate on the wagons) waited patiently for everyone to finish eating.
There is a house across the street from the Cannonball, and someone was in the yard working the whole time we were there. Whatever they were doing, the horses found it fascinating and watched for almost two hours.
A group of the 4-H girls used the time after dinner - when we were just sitting around talking - to practice cheers and gymnastics. Before we left, they performed a cheer they had made up for the group.
Around 8:30, we loaded up to make the trip back to town.
The cannon at British Landing looked like a lonely sentinel against the darkening sky.
We hadn't been gone from British Landing over 15 minutes, when Jack and Terrie rode up behind and then passed us on their bikes - heading home. They had fed us, and now they were going to beat us home!
Again, having never been on this side of the island at the end of the day, the sunset was unbelievable - I'll let these next three photos speak for themselves.
As we neared town, we passed these adironack chairs, facing the lake and partially hidden by the gnarled trunks of lilac trees.
After we got off the wagons at the library, we looked back in the direction we had traveled - in time to catch the sun this one time . . .
. . . and one time more.
Hollyhocks along the boardwalk add a splash of color to the almost grey palette of evening . . .
. . . and then the sky glowed red around the Mackinac Bridge, as it reflected the last rays of the setting sun.
What a wonderful ending to a wonderful event. Can’t wait for next year’s Festival of the Horse, already planned for July 20-23, 2011. It’s not too early to make your plans to be on the island for the entire event next year. You will love it – I promise!