Horses big draw to Danada Fall Festival
A seasonal tradition in DuPage County continues this weekend when Danada Equestrian Center hosts its annual celebration of the horse -- the Danada Fall Festival.
The festival, which started more than 30 years ago, has become the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County's largest special event, drawing as many as 12,000 visitors a year.
This year, the festival runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8, at the equestrian center, 3S507 Naperville Road, Wheaton. Activities include horse-drawn hayrides, pumpkin painting, and a parade of horse breeds.
"It's a great time to come out enjoy the beautiful fall color," said Wayne Zaininger, equestrian center manager. "You get to see a lot of interesting things. Certainly, the horses are a big draw."
The equestrian center once served as Dan and Ada Rice's racehorse training estate and was the home of 1965 Kentucky Derby winner Lucky Debonair.
Festivalgoers will be able to tour the barn that once housed Lucky Debonair and learn about horse care, grooming and tack.
They also can visit the Rices' former home, now called Danada House, for the Friends of Danada's 60th anniversary celebration honoring Pucker Up -- one of the Rices' champion fillies from 1957.
While Pucker Up wasn't as successful as Lucky Debonair, she was one of Ada Rice's favorite horses, according to Zaininger.
The exhibit will include racing trophies, Pucker Up's championship medallion, and more than 20 photos, including winning moments captured with notable jockeys Bill Shoemaker, Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack.
Danada House visitors also can view the Friends of Danada Nature Art and Photo Show, a juried competition featuring local artists.
Children will be able to decorate paper hobbyhorses, take pony rides, paint pumpkins and get their faces painted.
Of course, horses are a major part of the festival.
The main arena will feature horse-jumping demonstrations, horsemanship basics and a demonstration of Arabian horse versatility. Midwest Renegades will entertain with vaulting and trick riding, and the Northern Illinois Outlaws will demonstrate cowboy mounted shooting.
Additional guest horses and riders will showcase other riding styles and breeds throughout the day.
The popular parade of breeds is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. in the main arena.
"That's when you get to see all shapes and sizes of horses," Zaininger said.
More than 50 horses are expected to participate in Sunday's festival. One of them knows how to use a paintbrush. Visitors can meet Danada's own Nick the Painting Horse and buy his artwork.
While admission and parking are free at the festival, food and drinks will be for sale and some activities have small fees. For information, call (630) 668-6012.
If you goWhat: Danada Fall Festival
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8
Where: Danada Equestrian Center, 3S507 Naperville Road, Wheaton
Cost: Free admission and parking; fees for some activities and concessions
Info: (630) 668-6012 or dupageforest.org