There are concessions set up all over the grounds but the area between Celeste and Congress Hall is a hotbed for food. Photo © Hollie Byers

Top Five Quarter Horse Congress Insider Tips

Whether it is your first time or your fiftieth time, thinking about attending the All American Quarter Horse Congress tends to bring feelings of anticipation, excitement and delight. The sounds, the smells and the feeling of the crisp October air is something that brings goosebumps to those who make the journey to Columbus, Ohio year after year. Exhibitors, spectators and vendors all gather in to show, watch and shop. The fairgrounds turn into a city for 26 days, buzzing with golf carts, horses and people. With so much to do and see, it can be hard to cover it all.

We are helping you make the most of your trip to the All American Quarter Horse Congress by putting together our list of the Top 6 Must Do’s while visiting this incredible event. These must do’s are worth making time for, whether your trip is three days or three weeks long. Consider this your bucket list and enjoy checking off our favorite things to do at Congress.

1 – Eat

The Congress is unique in that the variety of food options are endless. There are concessions set up all over the grounds but the area between Celeste and Congress Hall is a hotbed for food. Some are even open 24 hours. You don’t always have to eat your standard deep-fried indulgences, Greek food, cinnamon rolls, and roast beef sundaes await. Don’t forget to visit the food vendors in front of the Gilligan Barn. Some of the best coffee and wood-fired pizzas are being served up in this location.

2 – Shop

If you aren’t showing at the Congress, most likely you are there to shop and watch. The trade show is open from 9:30-7:00 every single day of the show. Vendors offer everything from tack, clothing and jewelry to trucks, trailers and equipment. Do your research, make a list of the vendors you want to hit and know their approximate locations. The ability to have so many horse-related vendors in one place is pretty incredible, so make sure your wallet is ready.

3 – Watch

This may feel like an obvious “must-do,” but we aren’t talking about sitting in the stands. Go out and watch the practice pens. Walk around the grounds and watch the interaction between the exhibitors and their horses. Visit the stalls to watch the care and hard work that goes into preparing a horse for this highly competitive show. Really watch what goes on behind the scenes, and you may pick up a tip or two.

4 – Stall Decorations

You can’t mention the word Congress without someone bringing up what the stall setups look like. Be sure to plan time to stroll through the barns and look at the craftsmanship on display at the front of the barn aisles. You’ll see a wide range of styles from beautiful, classic curtains to elaborate entry doors that open into living rooms equipped with furniture, carpet and televisions. Whether over-the-top or straightforward is your preference, it is impressive to see the amount of detail and thought that went into every stall set up at the Congress.

5 – Seminars/Lectures

Just like the competition, the seminars and lectures are top-notch featuring presenters and experts from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. And not to mention, they are free. From class demonstrations to horse care, the assortment of topics is extensive. Check the seminar and lecture schedule before your trip, as you are bound to find one that perks your interest.


The list of Congress must-do’s really could go on and on. From the Queen’s Crowning to Mounted Shooting, Heroes on Horses to the Freestyle Reining, there is something for everyone at the Congress. This is what makes this event so special – so many disciplines, coming from all over the world to compete, shop and make memories with their friends and families.

Julie Hoefling was born and raised in Akron, Michigan but now resides in Cave Creek, Arizona with her husband, Jerry. She works at Central Garden & Pet (Equine Division – Farnam) as a Brand Manager over grooming, wound, and leather care. Julie shows her horses, Shady Impulse and Doctor Phil Good in the western all-around and futurity events under the guidance of Ryan and Andrea Kail.