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Looking back: Top Britt stories of 2019

Looking back: Top Britt stories of 2019

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You can't get enough of those draft horses, Britt. Readers from the Britt area deemed our behind-the-scenes look at the annual show the top story in the Summit-Tribune in 2019. Read on to see the other top four reads of the year, according to our website.

1. Preparing the draft horses before the show

As any draft horse farm owner can tell, preparing a horse for draft horse shows takes a lot of work from the moment the new horse comes to the farm up until just before the start of the show.

Blue Ribbon Days owner Albert Cleve, 71, from Farmington, Missouri, said they have to first break the percherons when they’re 3 years old. After the horse is broke, they take another six months to train the horse to get them to the point where the horse can really go to the show.

“You get them ready to go to shows and from there, you know, as far as right before the show we’ll bring them in and we’ll trim the hair out of their ears, trim the top of the mane there where the bridle goes, the bridle path, and clip any long hair on their face, kind of like shaving a man,” he said.

Once they get the horses to the show location, they’ll wash the horses and get them completely clean, put shoes on them – which Cleve said is part of the training in getting them ready to drive.

To get them ready for a show the day of a show, they take the horse out of its stable, cross tie it and vacuum any dust off its coat, after which they’ll brush the horse all over with a coarse brush and a fine brush.

“It takes, I call it elbow grease,” Cleve said.

Then they paint the horse’s hooves black, braid the manes, putting in a ribbon, put flowers in the manes, tie the tails and put a little bun on it, all before they put the harness on the horse.

“It’d take somewhere around two hours,” Cleve said. “There’ll be about, oh, five, six of us that’ll get them ready. It takes a while, and then of course just hooking six takes 15, 20 minutes.”

To hook the team of horses to the wagon, they have to take the team out and put them on the wagon, run the lines and put the swing pole on, which is the middle, and hook all that up and get the lead team out in the lead, according to Cleve.

2. West Hancock dominates Woodbury Central to advance to Class A title game

When the West Hancock football team finds it groove, it seems like no one can keep it from a win. And after being eliminated last season in the state semifinal game, this time, the Eagles were not going to be denied. 

Going up against Woodbury Central in the Class A state semifinal, the No. 1 Eagles scored quick and often. In the end, West Hancock came away with a 49-20 win and went on to bring home the school’s third state title. 

"It's something that you have on your checklist the whole time," Mark Sanger said. "It's a lot of work to get back here. It's a long road to get back, but we're back. We earned our spot in the championship."

3. Country Thunder Music Festival announces Forest City’s 2020 lineup

 Country Thunder Music Festival is making its 2020 debut in Forest City with some of the biggest names in country music.

The festival, which takes place June 12-14, will be headlined by classic southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, supergroup Old Dominion and rising star Kane Brown, event organizers announced at Friendship Hall in Forest City to an audience of nearly 30 people.

The festival, now managed by Premier Global Production, or PGP, was moved from Memorial Day weekend to June in hopes of better weather.

PGP operates five other Country Thunder festivals throughout the United States and Canada, including one in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, and another in Kissimmee, Florida.

An all-star lineup, site improvements and an updated format are some of the changes made by PGP ahead of this year’s Iowa festival.

“Iowa was an easy decision when it came time to expand our brand and the fan experience that we deliver throughout North America,” said Troy Vollhoffer, Country Thunder Music Festivals CEO. “The fans here are incredibly knowledgeable and supportive of the state’s robust country music scene.

“We‘re extremely pleased to be part of that landscape, and we welcome fans from across the region to join this party in 2020.”

Old Dominion, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kane Brown will headline Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Complete lineups for each day will be released early 2020.

As part of its “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour,” Lynyrd Skynyrd, a 2008 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, will be playing all the hits and fan favorites, like “Simple Man,” “Free Bird,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Saturday Night Special” and many more.

Other artists performing at the Country Thunder Iowa festival include veteran superstars Big & Rich, Clay Walker and Lonestar, red-hot Ashley McBryde, Granger Smith, Gabby Barrett, Riley Green, Mitchell Tenpenny, Meghan Patrick and others.

Information about tickets, camping and all the extras is available at www.countrythunder.com. Order tickets by phone at 1-866-388-0007. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all @countrythunder.

4.Victim named in fatal shooting at Lu Verne bank

Algona resident Jessica Weishaar was killed in December during a shooting at Security State Bank in Lu Verne.

Around 8:40 a.m., first responders found Weishaar, 43, of Algona, on the sidewalk in front of the building, dead of a gunshot wound.

Police used eye-witness accounts and video footage to identify the suspect and a vehicle used in the crime. The suspect, Valentino Williams, of Coralville, was apprehended a short time later in a traffic stop near mile marker 158 on I-35 remains in custody.

West Hancock Community Schools and Corwith-Wesley-Lu Verne Elementary School were on lockdown as a precaution after the shooting.

5. Kanawha resident national finalist

Local seed salesman and farmer, Chris Staudt, was a national-finalist with Corteva Agriscience’s “Power to Do More” contest.

Staudt was chosen because of a photo his family submitted to enter the contest. 

He was also showcased in a short documentary film showing Staudt’s farm along with the Kanawha Fire Department.

“This donation would allow the fire department to upgrade equipment needed to help our dedicated volunteers keep our community safe,” Staudt said.

Up to ten finalists were chosen based on a photo submission which were judged on originality/creativity and relevancy. 

Staudt’s photo shows him with his girlfriend and his dog.

“They surprised me while I was running the grain cart for my family farming operation,” Staudt said. “I am blessed to farm alongside my father and brother and be able to enjoy the simple things in life while doing so.”

The contest was open to anyone who earns their primary income from farming and runs their own farm, growing at least 250 corn acres.

Jesusa Christians is the Community Editor of the Forest City/Britt Summit-Tribune.

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