REEDSVILLE, W.Va. – The fourth annual Halloween with the Horses took place Saturday at the J.W. Ruby Research Farm.
The event, which is organized by the West Virginia University Equine Studies program, was well attended by dozens of families wanting to pet and take pictures with horses. Horses were dressed as a fire truck, unicorn, giraffe and a skeleton. Crystal Smith, a teaching associate professor of equine management, said she and everyone who organized the event were happy to see the turnout.
“This is our main community and service event that we can do for the local community and to benefit the local community,” Smith said. “And this year we were very committed to trying to find a safe but family-friendly way to still hold the event, but do it in COVID safe way and didn’t want to have it be another community event that was canceled because of the pandemic.”
Smith said in an effort to keep families socially distanced, there was a drive-thru scavenger hunt as families waited in the long line of cars to make it over to the horse’s station. They scanned QR codes at the different stations leading up to the horses and were given equine trivia and education topics, Smith said.
Once inside, everyone had to wear masks, use hand sanitizer and remain socially distanced.
The credit for the idea of keeping everyone in their car and properly distanced, Smith said, goes to her two events management interns. She said as a team, they tried to implement their idea to the letter to keep all participants safe because the event is important and a means of showing appreciation for the community.
“We’re working as a team to figure out the way to space this out, still offer people their same family-friendly trick or treating experience, still give them the opportunity to meet the horses, but do it in a safe way,” Smith said.
Smith said there was also a costume contest component of the event and the winner will win a prize pack of Halloween themed treats, tricks and a game.
The WVU Collegiate Horsemen’s Association and the Reedsville Volunteer Fire Department were the beneficiaries of the donations that were made in lieu of admission, Smith said.
“We were able to raise over $1200 to be split between those organizations,” Smith said.