Pre-show entertainment at the Indiana State Fair Pepsi Coliseum Draft Horse Show injures five in horse-drawn stage coach flip.
By Kim Lemmon
For the past two years, I have traveled to the Indiana State Fair to watch the National Percheron Show. This year, my husband, Mark, and I talked about visiting on Sunday, August 12 for the opening of the draft shows but we weren’t able to find horse sitters so we decided to stay home.
Sunday night I received a text from Heather Hetterick of Ohio Ag Net to see if I was at the Indiana State Fair. She was monitoring news on the internet and saw that there had been an accident in the Indiana State Fair’s Pepsi Coliseum before the start of the draft horse show Sunday night.
Apparently, a stage coach with a 6-horse hitch of light horses was carrying several queens, judges and other show officials into the Coliseum before the start of the show. The stage coach was to put on a show at top speed as the horses galloped around the arena in a figure eight pattern.
On this particular night, something went wrong and the stage coach flipped over. The horses were fine and well behaved during the ordeal but five people were sent to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries including Ohioan Rod Kohler who was scheduled to judge the draft horse hitch classes that evening.
Rod is the manager and driver of Oak Haven Belgians in Fremont, Ohio. He was nice enough to talk to me about his experience.
“I’m alright,” Rod said. “I have stitches in my head and leg. I feel more sorry for the driver than I do for anyone else because I know that he feels horrible, and it really wasn’t his fault. It was just something that happens.”
“I’ve watched the stage coach in there for 17 years and you watch it go around and its exciting” Rod said. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen a malfunction. Their record is pretty good.”
Jim Westbrook judged the hitch classes Sunday night. Rod is not sure who is judging the classes on Monday and Tuesday but he’ll be returning to the Indiana State Fair on Wednesday with the Oak Haven Belgian horses.
“I’m going to go home Tuesday night and get packed up and Wednesday morning we’ll be headed back here (to show our Belgians),” Rod said.
Here’s a You Tube video of the accident if you wish to watch it.