The Berrien Springs Fairgrounds will once again be the backdrop for National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA) classes when a brand-new futurity welcomes competitors to the southwestern corner of Michigan in June.
The facility was home to the Tom Powers Futurity from 1985 until 2020 when it was announced that the futurity would be moved to Wilmington, Ohio. Two years have gone by without a major event held in Berrien Springs. That’s when Gil Galyean, Jon Barry, and Charles Cannizzaro took the initiative to bring a new futurity “Back to Berrien.”
“For over 30 years, some of the most memorable exhibitions of pleasure horses were held at the iconic Berrien Springs Fairgrounds,” Galyean said. “With the return of qualifying requirements for World Championship shows, we thought it would be a great service to those chasing points to provide this new opportunity.”
The new event, “Back-to-Berrien” will offer a full slate of NSBA-approved classes as well as dual approved AQHA contests, Galyean said. It is scheduled to start on Wednesday, June 22, with 13 AQHA Western Pleasure and Hunter Under Saddle classes for Open, Non-Pro and Youth competitors, followed by futurity classes on Thursday, June 24 through Saturday, June 25. There will be divisions for Open riders (Limited, Intermediate and Open) as well as Non-Pro and Youth contenders. Both English and Western classes will be offered for yearlings (Longe Line); 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds and maturity horses.
“With more people holding back their young horses, we have responded by scaling back the 2-year-old classes. The only class for 2-year-olds will be an Open 2-Year-Old Western Pleasure (with a Limited Division),” Galyean explained. “But we have included two classes for 4-year-olds. A 4-Year-Old $5,000 Limited Horse Western Pleasure will feature $5,000 of added money for 4 year-olds that do not yet have $5,000 in lifetime earnings. There will also be a 4-Year-Old Non-Pro Western Pleasure.”
Organizers are working on allowing admittance to the grounds as early as Monday, June 20, so that attendees can start riding and preparing for the competition. “We have already obtained sponsorships and are working on soliciting more,” Galyean said. “We will be redistributing 100 percent of the sponsorship funds back into the purses. No proceeds from the show sponsors will be retained.”
Galyean said that organizers are also committed to offering low entry fees and returning the quality of the grounds to what is necessary to put on a high-level event such as this. Footing will be improved in the outdoor arenas and adjustments made so that the covered pavilion and old concert pavilion, west of the covered arena, will be available if weather warrants their use.
“The goal is to make this an affordable, exciting futurity with excellent prize money and a great atmosphere,” Galyean said. “We’ve already had tremendous response from vendors, trainers and exhibitors who all say they want to attend.”
Judges for futurity classes are Jessica Gilliam, Bob Kail and Jeff Greaves. AQHA Special Event judge is Sissy Anderson.
For additional information on “Back-to-Berrien” contact Gil Galyean at (405) 641-8124; Jon Barry at (573) 321-0047; Charles Cannizzaro at (985) 966-1550 or Show Secretary Chris Frese, Fox Show Services, at (319) 330-2215.