Celebrate the horse at Danada's Fall Festival
This weekend, thousands of people will visit the Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton for its annual celebration of the horse.
The Fall Festival at Danada, a tradition that started in the 1980s, has become the Forest Preserve of DuPage County's largest one-day event, drawing more than 10,000 people a year.
This year's festival runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at the equestrian center, 3S507 Naperville Road.
Wayne Zaininger, the district's equestrian education manager, said the event is popular because of the variety of horses it features.
"We bring a number of them from various groups around the Chicagoland area," he said. "There's all disciplines of horses. So no matter what your particular interest is, we've got it covered."
Activities include hayrides, pumpkin painting, riding demonstrations and a parade of breeds.
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, and view the Friends of Danada's "Nature Art and Photo Show," a juried competition featuring local artists.
"This is a great time for someone to come in who hasn't had an opportunity to see the Danada House," said Zaininger, adding that memorabilia celebrating Ada Rice's champion horses also will be displayed.
Children will be able to take pony rides, get their faces painted, paint pumpkins and decorate paper hobby horses for a romp in the main arena at 12:15 and 3:30 p.m.
"The little kids have a real fun time running around the sand arena in between acts," Zaininger said.
Of course, the horses are the biggest draw, and more than 50 are expected to participate.
Events in the main arena include a demonstration of Arabian horse versatility, an appearance by Saddlebreds, horse-jumping demonstrations, dressage demonstrations and a parade of breeds at 2:45 p.m.
Members of the Midwest Renegades will do multiple performances, including drills, trick riding and Roman riding.
Visitors also can meet Danada's own Nick the Painting Horse and buy his artwork.
"Hopefully, he will be in a great mood and doing a couple of performances," Zaininger said.
Horse-drawn hayrides through the autumn woods will be available, and there will be free tractor-driven hayrides to the Danada Model Farm on the west side of Naperville Road.
One change this year is the addition of a straw bale maze for young children. There also will be live music performed by the Plank Road Folk Music Society. In addition, there will be a selfie booth.
While admission and parking are free, food and beverages will be for sale and some activities have small fees (cash only).
For information, call (630) 668-6012 or visit dupageforest.org.
Fall Festival at DanadaWhen: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14
Where: Danada Equestrian Center, 3S507 Naperville Road, Wheaton
Cost: Free; fees for food and some activities
Info: dupageforest.org or (630) 668-6012