Sunbury Halter and Saddle 4-H Club began in 1952 when 4-H horse projects were first available in Delaware County.
Kenneth Link and Deb Edwards, first 4-H Club advisors, started the club with a group of kids who rode their horses and ponies for many miles around the Sunbury area countryside. Founding members were: Suzanne Link Allen, Sherry Link Buel, Stephen Link, Linda Link Wehrle, Jim Buell, Beth Perfect Fouts, Kenny Hoover, Martha Edwards Lee and her brothers, Beth McOwen, Rita Frakes, Tommy Wood, Jane Wood, Larry Edwards, Judy Warner Buell, and Jim Breece.
The first Delaware County Fair 4-H Horse Show that year had ten members (including Suzanne) showing in the whole show which currently has about one hundred members showing 4-H horses and ponies. The second year of the 4-H Horse Show was on the race track in front of the grandstand. Club members showing that year were: Suzanne, Sherry, Steve, Cousin Pam Link, Rita Frakes, and Larry Edwards.
In the late 1950’s, advisors were Larry Hill and Harold Kintner. In those early years, the club put on horse shows at the Sunbury Playground (now J R Smith Park). One time there were one hundred horses there for a club horse show open to all. The club made money from the shows and bought 4-H jackets for members who completed their projects.
After Lawrence and Louise Heyder became advisors in the 1960’s, the club began to take members on trips by Greyhound bus to related events such as the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario; World Quarter Horse Show in Louisville, Kentucky; Lexington, Kentucky Horse Farms Tours; Longhorn Rodeo in Detroit, Michigan and Knoxville, Tennessee; Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Hocking Hills Caves. The proceeds from the horse shows funded the trips.
Some club community projects in early years were: purchasing and taking new toys to the Delaware Children’s Home and making fruit baskets and taking to four families who lived in apartments in the Hopkins House (now Myers Inn).
In the 1970’s, the club did a few historical re-enactment activities such as dressing as Minutemen for the Paul Revere Ride from Sunbury to Galena and back in 1975; dressing as Revolutionary soldiers for a 1976 Sunbury Parade. Since then, the club has ridden as a unit in July 4th and Sunbury Sesquicentennial parades. Many club alumni of the club returned to re-enacting when we did five Buffalo Bill Re-enactments in Sunbury and Mt. Vernon.
When Bob and Jackie Carpenter were club advisors, the parents got together with their sewing machines at Jackie’s home and made saddle blankets for our fifty members to use in parades for many years.
In 2008, the club was asked to help American Legion Post 457 and Big Walnut Area Historical Society to help mark and pay tribute to soldiers buried in Big Walnut Area cemeteries. The club has continued this project since 2008 and have honored all soldiers from Revolutionary War through World War Two. On November 12, the group will honor Korean Police Action soldiers buried in Sunbury Cemetery. After the cemetery services, the club has a potluck supper for club families and veterans. At this time club members prepare over one hundred Christmas cards for soldiers through Friends of Our Troops.
In 2016, the 4-H Club won a County 4-H Community Service Award with Tyler Shuster winning the County Member Community Service Award. Parents and club alumni have remarked that 4-H Club membership has resulted in helping shy kids learn to talk in front of groups through 4-H. An alumnus told that she wouldn’t have become a college professor if she hadn’t been required to give demonstrations and serve as a club officer. Parents have remarked that members learn patriotism and good citizenship as a result of 4-H membership in our club.
Kathy St. Jean, a 28-year 4-H advisor, is the club’s organizational advisor; Suzanne Link Allen, is a 50-year 4-H advisor; Terry Glassford, a long-time member and advisor; Kerri Edwards, a one-year advisor; and Lisa Bauman, a one-year advisor are the club advisors currently for our 35 member 4-H Club.
The club appeared in last weekend’s All Horse Parade in Delaware, and will be at the Delaware County Fair in a 4-H horse barn club exhibit, September 16 through 21. Also there will be members with goats, rabbits, dogs, turkeys, and miscellaneous projects exhibiting at the fair.
Information for this story was provided by Suzanne Link Allen of Sunbury Halter and Saddle 4-H Club.