BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Horse fans are having a hay day down by the river on Friday because the third annual Missouri River Classic has begun!

The event is a three-day horse show that attracts participants from all around the Midwest.

Sheila Scholl, the event’s founder, had always loved showing horses and wanted an event where she could show her painted horses. Besides the North Dakota State Fair, there weren’t any in North Dakota. So, she made one herself.

She says it started off as just an event for showing painted horses with an open category for any other breed.

However, it has rapidly expanded. Three years after it started, the Missouri River Classic is now open to three different breeds: the Appaloosa, the painted, and the Quarter Horse.

With over $10,000 worth of prizes, the competitors have a lot to look forward to. However, for many participants, shows like these are so much more than just a competition.

Connie Armstrong, the national director for the American Quarter Horse Association, said, “For us, it’s just brought and kept our family together, so much I’ve got two daughters that show, a granddaughter that shows, and we just love running around the country together, showing these horses.”

Even if you don’t know a thing about horses, Scholl and others encourage you to stop by. You’ll get to see what horse shows are all about, and you might even get to feed and pet a horse or two.

Kristin Goodall, the treasurer of the North Dakota Paint Horse Club, said, “Come down and just hang out, there’s always somebody to talk to if you have questions, everybody’s so friendly, that’s the best part, it’s a way to prove that you’ve put some time and work and effort into your animal, and it’s just showing off that partnership that you’ve created with that animal.”

The Missouri River Classic will continue through Sunday, June 4 at the Walt and Evelyn Neuens Memorial Horse Park in Bismarck. The event is free and open to everyone.