Budweiser Clydesdales to visit Kent tonight

Tyrel Linkhorn

Barring inclement weather, eight magnificent beasts will pull a turn-of-the-century beer wagon through downtown Kent this evening.

Earlier this summer, Kent State alumnus Joe Jordan, now a representative for Anheuser-Busch, approached Main Street Kent about bringing in the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch.

Mary Gilbert, Main Street Kent executive director, said they were happy to accept.

“This is huge for us because this is a nationally recognized event that’s going on,” Gilbert said. “It’s such a big draw that I’m thrilled to have people coming to downtown Kent (and) getting to know Kent, the shops and restaurants.”

Even better, the team, which normally costs $30,000 to book, will be coming to Kent for free. Jordan was able to do this as the Clydesdales were already going to be in the area to appear at the Cleveland Browns game Sunday.

The team will be based on North Water Street, and is scheduled to make an hour-long circle of downtown, starting at 5:30 p.m. From 6:30 until approximately 8 p.m., the horses will be on display and available for photographs on North Water Street.

Budweiser-donated Clydesdale merchandise including shirts, holiday steins and stuffed animals will be for sale, with proceeds going to Main Street Kent.

In the event of rain, the horses may be sidelined, as Gilbert said it could be dangerous for them to pull the wagon. The team’s driver will make a decision by 4 p.m. Should this happen, the horses will be on display under a tent on North Water Street.

Along the way, the hitch will deliver a case of Budweiser to each of the bars.

Mike Beder, owner of the Water Street Tavern, said that while the bars may see a slight increase in patronage because of the event, it’s more of a family event than a beer enthusiast’s event.

“It’s really an icon of Americana,” he said. “For anything I’ve ever seen or heard, these animals are just amazing creatures.”

Roads will be temporarily closed downtown as the hitch passes. The one exception is North Water from Main to Columbus streets, which will be closed from 2 to 10 p.m.

Dan Smith, executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, said they’re expecting a good crowd so long as the weather holds.

CLYDESDALE ROUTE

The team will start at 5:30 p.m. at North Water Street and travel south, turning left on Erie Street, left on Depeyster Street, left on Main Street, left on Franklin Avenue, left on College Avenue, finally going back up to North Water Street.

“We have had a tremendous number of phone calls,” he said.

Gilbert said the turnout may even exceed their original expectations.

“We were hoping for several hundred, but I have a feeling we’re talking a thousand (people) at least.”

Contact public affairs reporter Tyrel Linkhorn at [email protected]