WILTON — In one month’s time, over 100 Wilton Blueberry Festival fans have responded to a request for letters supporting the appearance of the Budweiser Clydesdale 8-Horse Hitch at this year’s festival.

At the end of December 2016, festival Chairwoman Shannon Smith started a letter-writing campaign to reinforce her request for the horses to make an appearance at the 35th anniversary of the festival scheduled for Aug. 4 and 5.

She intends to send the letters on to Federal Distributors in Lewiston, a Budweiser distributor, every time she receives 10 letters. The distributor plans to include them with an endorsement for bringing the horses and to send it on to Merrimack, New Hampshire, where the Clydesdales are stabled, and Budweiser headquarters in St. Louis.

A decision won’t be announced until later this spring, Smith said.

As of last week, 110 letters, along with two videos of the parade have been forwarded, she said.        

“The letters have been really very special,” Smith said. “They have all come from people’s hearts.”


Smith’s original goal of receiving 100 letters by the end of January was met, but she will continue to collect them and send them on, she said. Another two for the next batch of 10 have been received.

She has applied for 20 years to bring the horse hitch here.  

“After 20 years, you would think this would be the year for them to honor the request,” she said.

The letter campaign should give them extra incentive, she said. 

People have responded with a variety of reasons they’d like to see the Clydesdales at the Wilton Blueberry Festival this year, including the impact that the horses’ appearance could have on the local economy and the potential economic boost to Franklin County. Many have written about how well Smith organizes and promotes the festival, the town and the whole area.  

“The Wilton Blueberry Festival started in 1982 with a simple ‘Blueberry Church Bazaar,’” according to the website. That small event has become a two-day festival that draws thousands each year; it supports local businesses and is a major fundraising event for local organizations. 


Smith chooses a special theme for each festival and secures new attractions to enlighten and entertain people. This year’s theme is “Disney.”

People now living in other parts of the country return to Wilton for the festival each year. Some responded with letters from Hawaii, Alaska, Georgia, New Hampshire and several towns in Maine. Many people living outside Franklin County have relayed messages of their plans to attend, she said.

Letters have been received from police officers, nurses, the Sheriff’s Department, civic groups, businesses, schools, teachers, banks, Shriners, Friends of Wilson Lake and officials from other towns, she said.

One letter was written by a 13-year-old who has ridden her horse in the Blueberry Festival parade for the past seven years. The horse died this year.

Her letter came from her heart, Smith said.

Another letter, sent by state Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, included a photo of large Belgian horses working on his father’s farm in Wilton.


Videos were provided by Mt. Blue Community Access Television, which usually films the parade, and from Jim Donnelly, who comes every year to photograph the event, she said.

The Clydesdales travel all around the country and have come to other places in Maine — but never to Franklin County.

If the Clydesdales come to the Wilton Blueberry Festival, Smith plans to create a display where people can read the letters, she said.

Regardless, Smith expressed appreciation to everyone who took the time to write a letter and for all of the nice things they had to say.

It is not too late, she said. Keep those letters coming.


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