Plow Horse Days Catching on in Rocky Mount, North Carolina
North Carolina event offers younger generation a chance to work a field with a team of horses.
Gentle giants patiently pull a plow during a demonstration of old-time farming techniques at Jimmy Dozier’s Plow Day in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
Donna Campbell Smith
Rocky Mount, North Carolina – The horses – blacks and grays, reds and pintos – lean into their harnesses, and the earth opens beneath the plows. Metal sparkles in the early morning sun, and sweat glistens on the strong backs of gentle giants as their human partners direct them with gees and haws. Once in a while the bray of a mule sounds across the fields, but for the most part the only sounds are the jingle of equipment and the low murmur of spectators’ voices as visitors watch in awe while a dozen or more teams worked the land.
It’s Plow Day in Rocky Mount, an event that started out with a few friends coming over to help Jimmy Dozier plow a cornfield. Three years after that small gathering, Dozier had a major community event on his hands. The event attracted friends and neighbors from all over the state to watch the plowing and reminisce about the days when they farmed with horses and mules.
First held in March 2008, the inaugural Plow Day drew about 800 people who came to watch farming done the old-fashioned way – with real horsepower. Not only were several teams of draft horses and mules plowing the 20-acre field, other items from the “good old days” were on display.
An antique car show inspired one spectator to recall how, as children, he and his siblings rode in the rumble seat of the family’s car, a Model A Ford.
“Look in there. You can see it’s not a lot of room, and the one we had wasn’t that nice,” the spectator said as other visitors peered into the tiny back seat of the car on display. The car had been restored beautifully, its rumble seat padded and covered in fine, smooth leather.
“And if it rained, then that was just too bad,” the man said with a chuckle, as fond memories danced in his eyes.
Other exhibits included demonstrations on making grits and cornmeal with a restored burr mill, and a display of old horse-powered farming equipment spread out over Dozier’s front yard. Hundreds of people wandered through the displays. Rocky the Trick Mule provided entertainment, and plenty of food was on hand to feed the crowd.