From powerful draft animals to quick-moving dogs, farm animals have pulled their weight through rural Blue Ridge history. The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival showcases the skills of animals and handlers in an array of contests and demonstrations. (See the Schedule page for times and locations. See the Registration page to preregister a horse, mule, or dog for competition.)
- Horse Pulling Contest–Teams of draft horses compete to see which can drag the heaviest weight.
- Team Horse Log Skidding Contest–Showcasing skills useful when logging with horses rather than tractors, teams of draft horses pull a log through a marked course. The object is to get through the course without either the log or an animal touching a cone.
- Coon Mule Jumping Contest–Unlike horses, mules will jump a fence without any running start, making them the perfect nighttime ride for raccoon hunters in earlier times. The mules compete to see which can jump over the highest barrier.
- UKC and Grade Coon Dog Bench Show–In something akin to a dog beauty show, the dogs are judged on their appearance and conformation.
- Coon Dog Treeing Contest–The bark of a coon dog tells the hunter a lot of information. The dogs compete to see which one barks up a tree at a raccoon-scented rag the most number of times in 30 seconds.
- Coon Dog Water Race–These prized hunting dogs swim after a raccoon-scented rag across Adams Lake on the Ferrum College campus. There can be two winners in each race–the first to cross the finish line at the edge of the lake and the first to “tree” the rag with a bark.
- Sheep Herding–There’s nothing more focused than a sheep dog on the job. Virginia’s finest farm dog trainer uses whistles to put his dogs and the sheep through their paces.