LOWVILLE — Despite being on a step ladder, the man washing one of the nine Budweiser Clydesdales next to the Lewis County Fairgrounds Horse Barn could barely be seen by the children watching intently from the grass.

Three red semi’s emblazoned with the Budweiser logo arrived at the Fairgrounds carrying nine of the iconic horses, two dalmatians and a crew of seven people.

Eagle Distributors in Watertown brought the Clydesdales to the north country and arranged for them to be accommodated at the Fairgrounds.

The horses will be hitched, eight at a time, with their trusty mascots, Dalmatians Merri and Lilly, riding shotgun at the main exchange on Fort Drum from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday; at Mountainfest from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday; from 4 to 6 p.m. at Watertown Walmart, 20823 Route 3 on Friday; and in Alexandria Bay on Saturday to do a “bar tour.”

About 20 people milled about outside the horse barn, watching all of the preparation and care being given to the horses.

Horses were brought out to the back of the barn to walk around and graze a bit while others were taken beside the barn for bubble baths.

Some local people were hired to wash the trucks and help the Clydesdales’ team prepare for their busy schedule.

Grant Johnson, one of the handlers for the fluffy-footed equines, said the group is based in Merrimack, N.H., although Budweiser’s main barn and breeding facility, Warm Springs Ranch, is in Boonville, Mo.

All of the horses are geldings between 6 and 11 years old, Mr. Johnson said. Normally the group travels with 10 horses, but one became ill and so was returned to Merrimack so as not to risk the health of the other horses.

Beaver Falls resident Lila Ovando, who said she worked at a feed mill for 30 years, wanted to know everything she could about the Clydesdales.

“I am very excited to be able to see these horses,” she said, not long before asking Mr. Johnson about the qualifications needed to become a handler.

The equine entourage tours 300 days a year, but they are never left on the trucks overnight, Mr. Johnson said, and stops are made at least every four hours.

Mr. Johnson was not new to the breed when he started working with the Budweiser horses. He said his entire family is dedicated to Clydesdales.

“This was my dream job, so when the opportunity came up nine months ago, I decided it was now or never,” Mr. Johnson said.

What he likes best about the horses is their disposition: he said they are very gentle, sweet horses.

Visitors are welcome to visit the Budweiser Clydesdales at the Fairgrounds until their Monday departure when they will be heading south to the Washington, D.C. area.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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