For generations, horses pulled boulders to the edges of Door County farm fields on a steel or wood “stone boat.” The Jacksonport Advancement Corporation celebrates that strength and spirit at the annual Maifest Horsepull at noon on May 27. Activities begin with horseback demonstrations from the 4-H Drill Team and Door County’s own trick roper Chewy.
Ken Honold, Maifest Horsepull coordinator, explains what happens at a horsepull. Drivers sit on a bench on the “boat” holding the reins, while “hookers” attach the boat to the horse team. They attempt to pull the weight on the boat a required 27.5 feet. Each team has three chances to make the distance or is out of the competition. After each round of pulls, if more than one team has pulled successfully, 500 pounds are added to the boat for the next round.
Honold’s horsepull history is as long as the Maifest. After he was discharged from the military, he met, and became engaged to Mary Tong. Her father invited Honold to join the group working the first Maifest Horsepull. Honold recorded distances each team pulled the boat. Honold worked his way up and became the Maifest Horsepull coordinator – the only man left of the original crew.
Audience members are asked to stay quiet during the event as “Go!” sounds like “Whoa” to the horses, which makes them stop.
Businesses and individuals may donate $50 to sponsor teams in the horsepull. To donate, contact Honold at 920.823.2179.