I thank the editors and staff of the newspaper for their handling of the front page article, “Bailey painting comes home,” (Nov. 19). The breeding of the Standardbred horse and the sport of harness racing is a tradition at Maine’s agricultural fairs.

The work of a harness horseman is far more than the two minutes one sees from the grandstand as drivers in their sulkies compete on the half-mile track. Their work is a year-round dedication to the care and training of the Standardbred. This work is difficult and authentic — a Maine way of life existing for more than 150 years.

In 1855, a spokesman from the North Kennebec Agriculture Society in Waterville stated, “Agricultural fairs are now to be regarded as one of the fixed and necessary institutions in our country.” This is still the case today. Maine’s agricultural fairs exhibit the work of Maine’s agricultural community through competitions and education.

Harness racing is part of that exhibition and needs public support. New people need to be encouraged to become a part of this industry, not only as horsemen and owners, but also track officials and workers.

When the horse was king Mainers relied upon the horse for transportation to the marketplace, as a worker in the field, public transportation, the movement of goods supporting our economy, as warriors on the battlefield, and over time our entertainment at more than 100 Maine trotting parks.

I encourage readers to check out the Lost Trotting Parks’ Online Museum at www.losttrottingparks.com. Take a look at the Lost Trotting Parks Archives. At least eight Kennebec County towns supported trotting parks. Take a look and imagine yourself with your ancestors travelling by wagon to attend one of the early agricultural fairs.

Look to the past and you just might find a way to create your future.

Stephen D. Thompson

Creative director and founder

Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center


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