'More fun than you can shake a stick at'

Horse and ox pulls to aid move of old Knox schoolhouse

By Tanya Mitchell | Jul 14, 2012
Photo by: Tanya Mitchell Clayton Larrabee (in back, center) helps out with the horse-pulls at Brooks Hay Days July 4. Larrabee, who is also a member of the Knox Historical Society, will operate the horse and ox pulling events scheduled for the weekend of July 21-22 in Knox.

Knox — In an effort to preserve a piece of the town's past, members of the Knox Historical Society are planning the first of what organizers expect to be an annual event and fundraiser that hearkens back to the agricultural roots of the region.

The Knox Horse and Ox Pulls are scheduled for Saturday, July 21, and Sunday, July 22, at Knox Field on Abbott Road. The weekend-long event will include the horse-pulls, which will take place all day Saturday and will include five different classes featuring teams from around the state, according to Clayton Larrabee, event co-organizer and member of the historical society.

"They'll be coming from everywhere from Houlton to Standish and beyond," said Larrabee.

Some of the horse teams carry a combined weight of up to 5,200 pounds, Larrabee said, with each animal weighing in at about 2,600 pounds.

A chicken barbecue will be served up Saturday at noon, and a beanhole bean lunch is scheduled for Sunday at noon; the meals will be in addition to the concessions that will be sold throughout the event. The weekend will also include a host of old-fashioned games and activities such as tug-of-war, a watermelon-eating contest, a skillet-toss competition, face painting and a dunk tank.

Sunday will feature ox-pulling, and Larrabee said the number of classes will be depend on how many teams are signed up to compete. Those animals tend to be larger in size, with a competing pair weighing up to 5,800 pounds.

"It's an altogether different kind of pull," said Larrabee of the oxen. "They lean into it, and kind of walk with it."

Earlier in the day Sunday, young riders will be invited to participate in the youth horse show.

The event is intended to raise money to help the historical society cover the costs of moving the former two-room schoolhouse building on Route 137, which in more recent years served as the Town Office.

Larrabee and fellow historical society member Mary Ellen Twombly said the plan is to raise enough money to move the building from its original parcel, where it has stood since its opening in 1898, and move it to a piece of land that abuts the new Mount View High School in Thorndike.

"At the time it was one of the first real schoolhouses that had two rooms and more than one teacher," said Twombly.

In its new location, Larrabee and Twombly said, the society hopes to fix the building up and transform it into the go-to place for historical artifacts, photos and information about the town and region's past.

In order to build a broader collection of historical pieces that would eventually become part of a display at the old schoolhouse, the historical society invites anyone who has old photos, items, records, or family stories to bring those items to the horse and ox pull.

As part of the event,Twombly and Larrabee said, one of the town's most unusual artifacts — a completely refurbished horse-drawn hearse that was originally constructed at the Maine State Prison in 1890 — will also be on display throughout the weekend. Inmates at the Maine State Prison spent the winter of 2008-09 bringing the hearse back to its original state, and the finished product was unveiled during a ceremony at the new Town Office building on Abbott Road in June 2009.

The program that Twombly is circulating for the event promises "more fun than you can shake a stick at," and Twombly said she hopes the excitement that is building for the fundraiser is an indication of how much locals are looking forward to it.

"We have people coming form all around to help us," she said.

In conjunction with the horse and ox pull, Larrabee said there would be a yard sale at Ingraham's Equipment on both days and all money collected at the sale would benefit the Freedom Grange.

Larrabee said the events planned for Knox Field are similar to the way many farming families spent time together and socialized with their neighbors back in the old days.

"This is the way farmers used to have family time together," said Larrabee, noting that the local grange hall would typically organize the area horse shows and pulls. "That's the educational part of it, showing people how things used to be."

Admission for the weekend event is $2 for anyone 12 and older (children 12 and under are admitted free of charge). Gates will open at 7 a.m. on both days, and all events will go on as scheduled, rain or shine.

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