Budweiser Clydesdales kick off Tri-Cities visit at Erwin Food City

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ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – Thousands of people swarmed to the Food City in Erwin Wednesday afternoon to see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales.

The eight horses were harnessed and hitched to the famous red beer wagon in the Food City parking lot during the Gentle Giants’ first appearance in the Tri-Cities.

“We’re here at the Food City in Erwin, Tennessee with the Budweiser Clydesdales all the way from St. Louis,” Erwin Food City Store Manager Jacob Ratliff said. “An absolutely overwhelming response, the community of Erwin, we’ve got thousands of people here, and more people trying to get in and park, to just see these beautiful horses.”

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The eight-horse hitch was hitched to the 8,000 lb Budweiser wagon, but the enormous weight is nothing for the Clydesdales to handle, as a single horse is capable of pulling 5,000 lbs at a speed of 5 mph.

Most of the thousands of people in the crowd could be heard murmuring the same thing Ratliff said about the horses, calling them “absolutely unbelievable creatures.”

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“The local wholesaler will put in a request for us to come here, usually a year in advance is what it takes to fit into our busy schedule, then we’ll make our way here, set up the stalls and figure out what we’re gonna do for the week and then prep the horses for all the shows that week,” Clydesdale Handler Lane Soendker explained.

“The response has been fantastic, we expected 500 to 600 (people) but we’ve easily surpassed that so far, with who is here already,” Food City District Manager David Robinson said at 4 p.m. Wednesday when the two-hour event kicked off.

The crowds were in awe of the eight majestic beasts.

“Absolute pure beauty and power in these horses,” said onlooker Hannah Edwards.

“They had big huge feet and I didn’t think they were gonna be this big,” said another onlooker Makenzie Cunbow.

A sentiment shared by all is that the horses are truly cared for and pampered.

“These horses are gorgeous, way bigger in person,” said Nick Farnor. “They are very took care of from their leads to their halters – they’re beautiful horses.”

The Clydesdale handlers go to great lengths to get the horses performance-ready.

“They were taking cloths and they’d wipe them through their mouths,” Edwards explained. “They had separate cloths for each horse, they’d wipe over their halters and they’d wipe the entire of the carriage down and it was just absolutely amazing.”

“This being the first show this week, with this huge of a crowd, we’re kind of looking forward to the rest of the parades this week,” Soendker said.

Full schedule below:

  • Dec. 5 in Bristol at the Christmas Parade – 7 pm
  • Dec. 6 in Johnson City at King’s Common Park – 4 pm
  • Dec. 7 in Johnson City at the Christmas Parade – 10:30 am

Here is a look at the Clydesdales in Erwin:

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