ST. CHARLES – Enrique Martinez's five Friesian dancing horses came out doing a quick-step to traditional music, their riders presenting classic Spanish dressage – and the crowds loved them.
Martinez of Monte Cristo Equestrian Center in Maple Park, was followed by Tiana Ng of Classical Baroque Horse in Huntley. Ng's presentation included Andalusian, Baroque and Tennessee Walking horses, the riders clad in everything from gossamer gowns with fairy wings to traditional riding wear.
Each presentation included an explanation of the horses' origins and introductions of the riders, all part of Saturday's Festival of the Horse and Drum at the Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles.
The festival continues from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday with events and activities that include horse demonstrations, knife and axe throwing, arrowhead making, food vendors, crafts, lectures, a pow wow, bands and war horse history displays.
Linda and Tony Emerson of Plainfield came with their daughter, her friend and a neighbor and said it was well worth it.
"Lots of family fun," Linda Emerson said. "Lots of variety, close-up with the horses. Great food …. Very affordable."
"I liked the jousting," Tony Emerson said.
Tim Novak of Capron cut a striking figure as a 6-foot-6 Viking named Talon, wearing leather, fur and an axe in his belt. His booth included a 9th century Viking settlement.
Novak said he came to the festival not only to promote the Renaissance era, the International Heritage Conservancy – which supports raptor conservation and falconry –and his charity, Destination Safe Haven Horse Rescue of Northern Illinois, based in Capron.
More information and a complete schedule are available online at www.festivalofthehorseanddrum.com.