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Horses training for Hawkinsville Harness Festival | Arts & Culture

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Horses training for Hawkinsville Harness Festival


Dozens of horses were training on Friday for the 41st Annual Harness Festival.

G Force Hanover was one of them.

"He raced last summer as a two year old, it was his first year racing, he had two wins," said his trainer, Clarence Martin Jr.

Martin and his family are from Pennsylvania, and hope that G Force Hanover and a few other horses from his stable qualify to compete in future races.

Lee Slade, the president of the Hawkinsville Chamber of Commerce says people from much colder states, come to Hawkinsville to train their horses for six months.

That's due to Middle Georgia's climate... and the composition of the track.

Before they leave, their horses must qualify to race in larger competitions.

"We build the harness festival around their qualifying to get their horses prepared to race," said Slade.

He says the race brings in visitors to Hawkinsville, and some of them decide to stay.

"Some of these people maintain a home here, even though they leave for six months and what I like about it, is when people are ready to retire, they stay here," Slade said.

"This is the only place we come to in Georgia, hopefully we're going to turn this into our vacation home for the winter," said Martin.

His stable holds 16 horses, and his entire family helps keep it running.

His stable is from Pennsylvania, but stables from Michigan, Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky and even Canada come here to train.

"It's a lot of fun, a lot of local people involved, a lot of out-of-town people, a lot of excitement...These are beautiful horses worth a lot of money, and an opportunity for people to see what they really do," Slade said.

The actually races start on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Festivities that begin Friday night include a chicken cook-off and live entertainment at 6 p.m. and fireworks starting at 8:45 p.m.

It all happens at the race track on Highway 11, south of the city of Hawkinsville.

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