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In Saratoga, horses are on parade (and so are dancing shoes)

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 September 2013 at 12:00 am

SARATOGA SPRINGS – I visited Saratoga for a good part of Wednesday, and was happy to go exploring after giving a presentation in the afternoon about farmworkers.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has a three-day Promotion & Education Conference in Saratoga. I was asked to drive out and talk about my experiences in 2008, working with farmworkers from Mexico, Jamaica and Haiti.

I gave my presentation and headed out for a look around the city. Saratoga is home to a race track, and there is horse-themed stuff everywhere, including horses mounted on top of buildings. Many businesses work horses and horse-related logos into their names.

There are horse images on numerous city signs, including those for public parking (they put a horse logo on that). One of their bike racks utilized part of an cast-iron hitching post. It was mounted in the sidewalk. I thought that was pretty cool.

The city has 34 fiberglass horses sprinkled all over town and all in different themes. Batavia has some of these, too. They look nice, and every one seems to have someone gawking at it, taking a photo.

I think a lot of us associate Saratoga with horses. But I didn’t know the city is home to the National Museum of Dance. The museum wanted some recognition, and didn’t just want people to think horses whenever Saratoga was mentioned. So the museum this year did its own public art project.

There are 5-foot-high fiberglass pointe shoes all over the city, 24 in all and many have a funky painting pattern.

I drove around hoping to see the famous race track but I couldn’t find it and got sick of the traffic. So I wandered around on foot and came across a bronze jockey on a bronze horse. It’s right on the main street in the business district.

I thought that was a smart move putting the sculpture right on the main drag, rather than in front of the race track.

Saratoga also has a history steeped in minerals. They have some nice public displays about their mineral industry. I took photos, trying to get some ideas for how we could better show off our Medina sandstone roots in Orleans County.

There are several Orleans County officials in Saratoga for a few days this week. The New York State Association of Counties has its annual meeting, and the group picked a Saratoga hotel to meet and develop its agenda for the coming year. I happened to see Jay Gsell, the Genesee County manager, out for a walk on Wednesday evening. We chatted in front of the horse hitching post/bike rack.