Jousting, Mexican horse dancing, Native American powwows, French, German, Western and Theatrical dressage shows -- they were all part of the cultural diversity at the first Festival of the Horse and Drum Sunday at the Kane County Fairgrounds.
During the two-day event, the fairgrounds were filled with horse-centric art showcases, stages for music and dancing, a lecture area for horse-related seminars as well as a line of food vendors selling Mexican and Native American food alongside the standard festival fare.
A four-day film festival broadened the event's reach, bringing an array of films to match the festival's own diversity.
With beautiful weather Saturday and Sunday, the inaugural year of the festival was considered a success by organizers and many attendees.
Lisa Diersen, a lead organizer of the event, said there is a need for a multicultural event like this, and the Kane County Fairgrounds are a beautiful space to feature all things horses.
In northern Illinois, where there are more horses per square mile than anywhere else in the country, a devoted community is ready to come together and celebrate them.
"Horses have been with us throughout history, in everything that we do," Diersen said.
Tricia Boyd, of Bolingbrook, appreciated the entertainment variety at the festival, saying it was a good introduction for people who don't have as much experience with horse events.
Nancy Winkelman, of Sugar Grove, director of a therapeutic riding program, admired the classical dressage of Mario Contreras' Fiesta Troupe Sunday. She knows the elegant, fluid moves of the horses and riders took years of practice to perfect.
The festival, for her, was impressive not just for the diversity of its performers, but for their skill.
"They certainly brought in some really incredible talent," Winkelman said.
The Festival of the Horse and Drum will return next year during the third weekend of August.