CROTON — The Hartford Fair this year features world-famous celebrities — the Budweiser Clydesdales. The clydes arrived in style on Wednesday.
The 10 Clydesdale horses at the fair — Don, Buck, Chip, Ben, Stewart, Barry, Mike, Cole, Dillon and Ringo — are accompanied by six handlers who drive the trucks, serve as groomers and stable hands and drive the hitch.
Mike Wilkerson, of Merrimack, N.H., has worked with the gentle giants for five years. He travels with the team 320 days a year, spending just 12 weeks a year at home. In spite of that, he said, “It’s a great job. My family’s right here — these horses. These guys are real gentle giants,” he said. “They are docile and easy-going. It takes a lot for them to get worked up.”
The Clydesdales in the hitch are about 8 years old. The geldings are all 18 hands high, which about 6 feet, at the shoulder and weigh an average of 2,000 pounds. They are bay in color, have four white stockings, a blaze of white on the face and black mane and tail.
“I think they’re pretty,” said 5-year-old Ava Wood of Tallmadge. “I like their noses [the white blaze]. I think they’re big enough; probably over 100 pounds.”
Hans Jager has been with the hitch for 10 years.