“For years, horses were my life — they still are. Directing the parade is part of my heart.”
Samme Putzel is executive director of Excellent Events, the not-for-profit that organizes most of Vankleek Hill’s community events. For the Horse and Buggy Parade, as with many other events this year, she took over the managing role from her late husband Phil Arber; and she fully intends to keep his legacies going strong.
“We started the Horse and Buggy Parade to hold a big celebration, ” she said. “We wanted to be drawing people together to celebrate horses and the history of horses in Canada.”
Since then, it’s become an annual event. Last Sunday, July 9, residents lined the streets of Vankleek Hill to attend this well-loved procession of antique and hand-made buggies, drawn by horses decked out in their finest regalia. Although many of the participants have been in the parade for years, it’s open to all; in fact, as one of the volunteers at the event delightedly recounted: “I just registered this guy who said, ‘I can’t tell you anything about my wagon, because I only bought it yesterday.'”
Despite generating no revenue, the parade is eagerly attended every year. “The driving force,” explained Putzel, “is that people want this event to continue; we don’t want to let it drop. Phil had a vision, and he gave it to us as a gift. It’s come together in such a way that everyone has taken on these events as part of the community — so really we’re celebrating togetherness.”
Accompanying the parade was another staple of Vankleek Hill summers: the fifteenth annual Strawberry Social, presented by the Vankleek Hill Farmers’ Market.
Putzel would like to thank the Excellent Events team as well as all those who contributed to the Horse and Buggy Parade.