The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Features

June 21, 2014

A sight to see | Famed horse team will pull into Johnstown for Thunder in the Valley

JOHNSTOWN — Motorcycles will not be the only form of horsepower attracting attention during Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally Thursday through June 29.

The Budweiser Clydesdales, giant horses of beer-commercial fame, will return after a one-year absence.

Dan Thompson, president of Von’s United Beverage, Richland Township, said the horses will be stabled at Peoples Natural Gas Park, 90 Johns St., downtown Johnstown.

The inclusion of the Clydesdales and the addition of the new Budweiser Brewmaster Tour will be free to any of Thunder’s       200,000 expected visitors.

Both displays will be located in a grassy oval near the western edge of PNG Park.

They will need the space since it takes two tractor trailers to carry the Clydesdales and a third to bring everything else – the historic beer wagon, harnesses and other gear.

Horses will be stabled in a new tent structure, specifically designed to keep the animals comfortable.

“Thunder in the Valley will be the first time that the Enhanced Stable Experience will be used,” Thompson said.

“It’s designed to maintain the pride and heritage in an engaging and exciting way.”

Visitors can explore a kiosk containing a five-panel centerpiece that reinforces the parallel stories of Budweiser and the Clydesdales, complete with authentic hitch-driving lines and a Martingale, an ornamental piece once used to steady the horse’s head.

Guests can get a sneak peek at the grooming area for a behind-the-scenes look at the portable stables and tack display. A space also is carved out for guests to admire the amazing craftsmanship of the beer wagons.

“A person doesn’t have to be a motorcycle lover to enjoy this experience,” Thompson said.

“While Thunder attracts tens of thousands of out-of-town visitors, this showcase is a good chance for our residents to join in the excitement.”

The close proximity to all the Thunder events will give the public an opportunity to see the horses throughout the week, other than their normal appearances.

The Clydesdales are in huge demand and make hundreds of appearances each year.

Thompson said the brewing company understands the magnitude and the significance of Thunder in the Valley.

“Because of the numerous appearances in Johnstown, it gives us a leg up when they  decide where the horses will go,” Thompson said.

“We are fortunate because Thunder in the Valley offers a good location, a great audience, and has a wonderful history of being a family-oriented event.”

Thompson said the Clydesdale entourage travels with 10 horses, alternating two each day to give every horse a break during appearances.

“The tent will offer people an opportunity to get up close and personal,” he said.

“People should bring cameras and the entire family.”

The Clydesdales will make an appearance on Thursday at Ebensburg Wheels & Wings. The hitch also will lead the Grand Thunder Parade on Saturday.

This year marks the 81st anniversary of the Budweiser Clydesdales, which made their first appearance on behalf of Anheuser-Busch on April 7, 1933, when they delivered a case of Budweiser to the White House in celebration of the repeal of Prohibition.

Jayne Korenoski of the rally-sponsoring Greater Johnstown-Cambria County Convention & Visitors Bureau said the close proximity of the attraction to Thunder events will give the public an opportunity to see the horses throughout the week, other than their normal appearances.

“Weather permitting, there will be a time during the early evening of June 27 that handlers will take a horse from its stable and walk throughout the stage areas,” Korenoski said.

Along with the beer wagon and its drivers, Anheuser-Busch sends the iconic Dalmatian to complete the eight-horse Clydesdale team.

In addition to the horses, the public will enjoy the Budweiser Brewmaster Tour.

Brewmasters lead small groups of five to 10 people through the process and tours last 10 to 20 minutes.

“It will be open for some 14 hours over the weekend,” Thompson said.

Brewmaster tours will be given from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday and from 1 to 4 p.m. June 29.

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