Trot on down to the annual Villa Louis Carriage Classic

The grace, elegance and power of fine, immaculately groomed horses with beautifully restored carriages in tow, all set against the backdrop of a grand Victorian country estate, make the annual Villa Louis Carriage Classic in Prairie du Chien a rare feast for the eyes. The event unfolds Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 7-8.

Spectators will be treated to an eye-popping spectacle in a display reminiscent of stylish 19th-century equine competitions. Nattily attired drivers will be perched atop beautifully appointed carriages, traversing the spacious riverside grounds behind spectacular horses. The event also recalls a brief period in the Villa Louis’ own history, in the 1880s when the estate served as a breeding farm for Standardbred trotting horses used in harness racing.

This year the event runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with tours of the Victorian mansion offered from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. More than 100 turnouts—the term includes the driver, carriage, animals and their manner of presentation—will take part in a variety of classes of sport driving-competition that include obstacle courses, cross-country rides and arena shows.

Several specialty classes add to the variety, including the ever-popular Picnic Class at noon on Saturday, in which entries are judged on performance and quality of turnout, dress of passengers and presentation of the picnic itself. Concluding the event at 4 p.m. on Sunday is the chic Concourse d’Elegance, in which the overall elegance of the turnout is judged.

If you make the excursion to Prairie du Chien for the Villa Louis Carriage Classic, you’ll want to include time for a tour of the restored rooms of the Villa Louis mansion and the Dousman office building. Mansion tours are included in the cost of admission and allow visitors to step inside one of the most authentically-furnished Victorian country houses in all of America. For more information call (608) 326-2721.

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