Tuesday, April 23, 2013

SPCA Barn Tour Puts Three Runs On Display

Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala. Wendy Lewis opened her barn in Three Runs Plantation for the sixth annual SPCA Tour on Saturday. Guests were able to see the "hunt box" complex, as well as her animals, including Spyder the horse and Pearl the Great Dane.

Several homeowners in the new Three Runs Plantation opened their homes – and their barns – for the sixth annual SPCA Barn Tour.

 The tour, sponsored by the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare, featured eight newly-constructed barns of different shapes and sizes on the 2,400-acre plantation. Proceeds from the tour will fund operations at the SPCA.

“We secure barns ahead of time,” said Chrissey Miller, development director for the SPCA. “People show up, they’ve got a map and all the barns listed. They just drive around from barn to barn, get out, enjoy the weather and enjoy the day.”

Raffle tickets were on sale at each barn, with prizes including jewelry, gift certificates and dog training lessons.

Back at the clubhouse, Papa Russ’s BBQ was ready to feed the hungry tourists. After the self-guided tour ended, guests saw Charlotte Bayley perform a dressage exhibition (musical freestyle) at Ashbrooke Equestrian Center.

Miller said most of the people who go on the barn tour “are not really horse people.”

“They’re just curious to see the barns and some of the different animals that are out there, and enjoy the weather,” she said.

Wendy Lewis had her Windy Hill Farm on Shell Bluff Drive open for the tour. The complex featured an antique carousel horse mounted in front of the barn.

“It’s a hunt box,” she said of her barn. “Except, it’s kind of an unusual hunt box, because most of the time in a hunt box, you have barn below and the living quarters above.”

“I’ve taken advantage of a lot of air flow, the big hill, and there’s always a nice breeze,” she said. “The horses just come in their stalls to eat, so it’s kind of a cool setup.”

The four horses aren’t the only animals who live there; Lewis also has two barn cats and five dogs.

Horst and Amanda Dorner’s barn on Shell Bluff Drive is home to a variety of horses as well as golden retrievers – including Mickey, a two-time winner at the Westminster world dog show. Outside the barn, the Dorners showed guests the bus, specially configured with more than a dozen cages, used to transport their dogs.

Lisa Groft of Aiken has been on the barn tour twice before, and came this year with her mother Jolene Mitcheltree, and friend Nanci Santos.

“I love it. It’s beautiful,” Groft said of Three Runs Plantation. “I drive through this area all the time just to look at the farms and the horses.”

Groft said the group had already been to five barns, and her favorite was Matt and Paulina Gould’s Blue Poppy Farm on Hiwassee Run.

“It was immaculate,” Groft said. “She was telling us all how she keeps it clean, how many hours she spends. It was spotless. She scrubs the floors – you could probably eat off the floor. The setting was just phenomenal; a wraparound porch on the house and a swimming pool.”

Guests going to Blue Poppy could even try a glass of limonada – or “limeade.”

Mitcheltree said she enjoyed her first barn tour.

“I was raised on a farm, and we had horses in my years of bringing up the children,” she said. “It brings back a lot of memories.”

Groft said this year’s tour has been the best of the ones she’s been on.

“I guess it’s because I live close by, and it’s just such a lovely setting,” she said. “The other ones, we’ve driven around a lot to get from farm to farm, and it’s hard to get to all of them in the time that’s allotted.”
Miller said the location of the tour changes from year to year. Last year’s event featured barns near the downtown and historic district.

“We have to start lobbying with our barn owners to make sure we get seven or eight really good ones in one area,” she said. “It’s usually a pretty good turnout. I don’t know how we’re gonna do competing against the Masters, but it looked pretty good out there.”

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Standard. It is reprinted here by permission.