Local woman helps keep horse show kicking for nearly 20 years

GOSHEN COUNTY – Behind every large community event is a group of passionate volunteers working tirelessly to ensure its success – and the Goshen County Fair is no exception.
Although Linda McLaen can’t recall exactly how many years she’s donated her time at the fair, she estimates it’s been nearly two decades.
McLaen acts as the fair’s horse show superintendent.
“I just make sure they get people in and out of the classes correctly, that they’re in the proper class, keep them sorted in their groups, and make sure everybody’s there, and I try to run them in a timely schedule,” she said. “I push them in, Dawn (Gilchriest – a second superintendent) runs the gate.”
This year, McLaen will work at a horse performance day July 25 and rodeo and speed events on July 26.
She said she got started as a volunteer when then-fair secretary Lori Schafer asked for her help.
“I’ve had pretty good luck,” McLaen said of her events. “A couple kids got bucked off, fell off, but I’ve never had everybody get hurt, hurt. You never know what your good, old broke horse is going to do. I’ve had kids get scared and refuse to go in. I try to scoot them through and keep things flowing.”
McLaen showed horses in her youth, and she said her passion for equines and the children that ride them keep her coming back year after year.
“It’s so fun to see them grow from first year (youngest is eight years old) to senior year,” McLaen said. “I have three people that help me now that I led in 4-H – Dawn, Jennifer Scheer, and Brandy Buckhaults – it’s always fun to get those kids that I had in 4-H coming back to help.”
McLaen added the knowledgeable people she works with help make the experience enjoyable.
“I’ve had the same people help me for years,” she said, listing announcer Patti Sue Peterson, clerk Becky Havely, and Karen Coon as keys to the shows’ success. “Those girls – they keep things running smoothly.”
McLaen believes the fair is important to the Goshen County community.
“We’re a very ag-oriented county,” she said. “There are lots of ranch kids and lots of horses here. It’s good to see the new kids coming in. We kind of go up and down in the numbers, but I think we’re going back up.”

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