P.A. Short Distributing and Downtown Roanoke, Inc. have announced that the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales, the symbol of Anheuser-Busch since 1933, are scheduled to participate in the annual Freedom First St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Shamrock Festival on March 14 in Downtown Roanoke.
The eight-horse hitch will be harnessed and hitched to the famous red beer wagon for the annual parade that starts at 11:00am. The “Gentle Giants,” as they are often referred to, will guide the beer wagon on the parade route traveling down Jefferson Street to Campbell Avenue, ending at Williamson Road.
The Clydesdale’s appearance in Roanoke is one of hundreds made annually by the traveling hitches. Canadians of Scottish descent brought the first Clydesdales to America in the mid-1800’s. Today, the giant draft horses are used primarily for breeding and show.
Horses chosen for the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch must be at least three years of age, stand approximately 18 hands – or six feet – at the shoulder, weigh an average of 2,000 pounds, must be bay in color, have four white legs, and a blaze of white on the face and black mane and tail. A gentle temperament is very important as hitch horses meet millions of people each year.
A single Clydesdale hitch horse will consume as much as 20-25 quarts of feed, 40-50 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water per day. Each hitch travels with a Dalmatian companion. In the early days of brewing, Dalmatians were bred and trained to protect the horses and guard the wagon when the driver went inside to make deliveries.
When not being featured in parade’s like Roanoke’s, the Budweiser Clydesdales can be viewed at the Anheuser-Busch breweries in St. Louis, Mo.; Merrimack, N.H.; and Ft. Collins, Colo. They also may be viewed at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis and at Warm Springs Ranch, the 300-plus acre Clydesdale breeding farm located near Boonville, Mo.