Kenny Woltz, the 2017 Chatfield Western Days grand parade grand marshal.
Kenny Woltz, the 2017 Chatfield Western Days grand parade grand marshal.

Kenny Woltz has earned his right to say “yea” or “neigh” to being in the parade.

“I know darn well that I’ve been the only horseback rider in every Western Days parade.  The last parade I was grand marshal in was in 1986,” related 2017 Chatfield Western Days grand parade grand marshal Woltz, who observed that if that statement isn’t entirely true, it’s only because he might have driven a truck or ridden on another vehicle through the parade.

“My wife found the same outfit I wore the last time, and I will wear it again,” said Woltz. “This is the 50th parade, and I’ve been in every one of them – either I rode or drove – but I’ve been in every one of them.  I’ve lived here since 1959, and the only thing that’s changed about Western Days is that the parade started at Don Ward’s at the top of the hill, and for many years, we rode from there.  Western Days has never been rained out.  There’s been rain, but it’s never had a parade rained out.”        

A longtime member of the Chatfield Saddle Club, having joined more than 50 years ago, he lives just outside of Chatfield — he has a Wykoff address and a Chatfield phone number — with his wife, Marlene.

He is half of a set of fraternal twins born after an older sister and brother and before a younger sister. He was born in Algona, Iowa, and lived there until he was 12, then his family moved to Stewartville from 1955 to 1959. His wife used to go to school in Spring Valley, then Washington and then Pilot Mound. He became interested in horses when he met her. 

“I’ve always had horses since I’ve been married…ride or draft horses, ponies and crossbreds,” he said.

He got married on his 20th birthday, Nov. 30, 1963, but his father had to sign for him to get married.  Women didn’t have to be 21 – they could be 18 – but men had to be 21, he explained.  The couple has six kids – Tammy, Roger, Kenneth Jr., William, Robert and Connie – and 11 grandkids.  He has farmed and worked most of his life, working at Tuohy Furniture for 32 years. He still farms a little bit.    

Over the years when he’s not been busy tending the farm or working at Tuohy’s, he’s kept his herd of horses visible. Ginger was the first horse he rode.

“I raised her and gamed her and showed her.  I got a lot of trophies out of that horse,” said Woltz.  “The horse I’m riding this year is Lady.”

He estimates he has owned 40 or more horses, but Ginger was his favorite riding horse. His favorite draft horse was Trigger.  He has also had Belgian spotted drafts, which have to be crossed with a riding horse, he explained, adding that they’re big horses, about a ton or 2,200 pounds. 

Being a saddle club member has given him the opportunity to take his horses out on the trails to ride as part of the annual Western Days trail ride. 

“The saddle club is important because I can ride horses on trail rides and in parades.  We used to go to a lot of parades, but we don’t usually go to many anymore,” said Woltz. “I’ve been on the board of directors, but not president, and my favorite part of Western Days has been the trail rides.  I like to go to the parade and the trail rides, go uptown and eat after the parade, go to the park.” 

Woltz stated that he appreciates the Western Days parade and celebration for the equine company that’s included. 

“The biggest thing, I think, is this is the only parade in the area with a lot of horses in it.  You can go to the parade in Waukon, Iowa, and they’ll have horses, but they just don’t have that many in parades around here anymore,” he said.  “I know I’m the only one who’s rode horseback or drove in all of the parades, and I just wanted to be grand marshal because I’ve been in the parade for 50 years now.”