From Blind River to Bright’s Grove and Sudbury, and from Teeswater to Dobbinton and St. Catharines, the Youth Literary Derby has reached into the classrooms of schools, standardbred farms and mainstream media across Ontario.
Potential young poet laureates and wordsmiths are lighting up the Literary Derby website with their submissions, hoping to share in the $2,000 prize money and free donated tuition for horse behaviour and safety courses from the University of Guelph.
The Youth Literary Derby is a juried, horse-themed writing contest designed to encourage writing and literacy skills for Ontario students in grades 5 through 8.
The road to the Derby passed through 20 Ontario standardbred breeding farms who opened wide their maternity facilities during the prime foaling season of May and June to welcome and showcase their newborn foals to Ontario students. The first sight of some of these delicate, long-legged future champions brought a smile of wonderment and sparkle to the eyes of many of the youngsters, an experience that often triggers the beginning of a lifelong love and relationship with horses.
Stops along the Derby Trail included Seelster Farms, where 100 students from the local St. Patrick’s elementary school visited the Lucan standardbred breeding farm and nursery.
“It was great to see such excitement from the students towards the foals,” said Seelster farm manager Ann Straatman. “We have some lifelong fans in the making here.”
“It was a fantastic and rewarding day,” said Ruleen Lilley of the large gathering of 350 who converged on the Mac Lilley Farm to get up close and personal with some of the baby colts and fillies foaled at the Dutton nursery. Included in that gathering were the grade 4 and 5 classes of Rodney Elementary School teacher and horsewoman, Trina Lebedz, who is sharing her passion with her students by incorporating Standardbred horses into their educational curriculum.
When Tom Rankin, sponsor of the Youth Literary Derby, welcomed over 300 visitors to his new broodmare facility in St. Catharines, the occasion attracted major mainstream front-page media attention, and on talk radio and community television in other parts of the province.
Peter Clements greeted visitors at his Dobbinton farm, as did Kathy McBride at her Bridewood Farm near Almonte. “Although it was a rainy day, they were an enthusiastic group who were anxious to learn more about Standardbreds,” Kathy said.
Visitors to JoAnne and Brian Eadie’s beautiful Tri Star Farm in Brantford were treated to seeing a filly born just minutes before they arrived.
Entries for the Youth Literary Derby will close at midnight on June 15 and the winners will be announced in mid-September.
For additional information, contact Galvin via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.