and Bridle - Eighty Years and Counting!
By Grace Gorrell
1923 marked the beginning of one of the most successful student
groups ever to be organized at the College of Agriculture and
the University of Kentucky, the UK Block and Bridle Club.
Wyles, Dan DeZarn, and Andrea Husband
To mark its
80th year, a Block and Bridle Reunion and Celebration will be
held on September 13, 2002 in conjunction with the Animal Sciences
Reunion. The reunion will involve lots of reflections on the past,
a glance at the future, and lots of time for mixing and mingling
with old and new friends.
Detailed information about the reunion will be sent out this spring
to all alumni in our databases whom we have identified as Block
and Bridle members.
Over the years, the Block and Bridle Club has provided students
who are interested in various aspects of the livestock industry
with an opportunity to enhance their leadership skills. Todays
generation of Block and Bridle members do a lot of the same things
the club did 80 years ago and have added a few new things, too.
The biggest change since the clubs beginning is that the
group has gone from being an all-male organization to one predominantly
made up of female members.
Todays group is still involved in a wide variety of activities,
including Little North American livestock show, the
National Block and Bridle Convention, as well as fund-raising
feeds, as they would call them, for various groups
throughout the year. The club may be best known for its expertise
in grilling butterfly pork chops, but it also owns a meat smoker
which has allowed it to expand its menu to include pork loin,
beef tenderloin, and many other specialty meats.
The Little North American, patterned after the North American
International Livestock Exposition held in Louisville, brings
back memories for several generations of Block and Bridle members.
All members are required to show a pig, dairy heifer, beef heifer,
horse, or a sheep; species champions and an overall grand champion
showman are selected, and all participants are assured of having
a great time in the process.
Block and Bridle members also participate in an academic quadrathlon.
Teams consisting of four club members compete against each other
on the basis of written exams, oral presentation, laboratory practical
at the University farms, and a quiz bowl.
Janet Turley, a Block and Bridle member from 1984-88, found the
quadrathlon to be great fun and said it helped her to become more
familiar with animals with which she had little previous experience.
Until recent years, the club organized Tots Days, a special day
for preschool students from Fayette and surrounding counties to
visit the University farms, where club members provided information
on each species of animal for the students.
In the early years the group organized a few other activities
that have since been discontinued. For example, their fall festival
involved a cow-milking contest for women. One of the festivals
highlights was the crowning of a king and queen. They also coordinated
a quarter-horse show, with proceeds going toward scholarship programs.
Through all the different activities that these club members took
part in, the end result was a group of close-knit friends who
have stayed in touch many years beyond graduation. A few marriages
have even come from romances first begun at Block and Bridle dances.
We also hope
the reunion will help answer the question so many members have
reflected on over the years, well stated here by Louann Marksberry
Waldner, member from 1984-88: Fred Thrift . . . does he
ever smile? There is a good chance that when he sees so
many faces from the years during which he has been advisor to
the Block and Bridle Club that even he will have a hard time suppressing
Dr. Fred Thrift
Bill Moody with Hampshire Hog