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Raising New Money for the Arts

HORSE FEVER 20/20 The Giving Collection and Clockwork Fury: Raising Money for the Arts

When we here in Ocala think of Horse Fever, we think about beautiful works of art that celebrate the Horse Capital of the World. We think of how proud we are of these beautiful four-legged fiberglass canvases, whose beauty and uniqueness have captured the attention of people across the country.

But Horse Fever was created in 2001 as a way to generate money to fund local artists and arts organizations and events. It was a fund raiser. And it worked. It worked again in 2005 for Horse Fever in Motion and five years later for the Horse Fever 10th Anniversary. So far, MCA has doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to local individuals and groups from Horse Fever’s success.

It is now 2021 and the Marion Cultural Alliance, in partnership with the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, is sponsoring Horse Fever 20/20, marking the 20th anniversary of Horse Fever. Once again, the aim is two-fold: Add new horses to the Horse Fever “herd” and enhance Ocala’s ever-growing collection of public art, and also raise new dollars to help artists and arts organizations.

“We do this for two reasons,” said Jaye Baillie, executive director of the MCA. “It’s the 20th anniversary and an arts fund raiser. The second thing is it just brings so much joy and happiness to people.”

Horse Fever 20/20 features two special fund-raising events. The first is the auctioning of one of the horses, the funky and mechanical Clockwork Fury, on March 16 at the Ocala Breeders Sales. The second fund-raising event, known as the Giving Collection and in honor of original Horse Fever champion and longtime FTBOA executive Director Dick Hancock, who recently died, is a raffle for three other horses – Sunny Daze by Ronda Richley, Home Sweet Home by Carlynne Hershberger and Critters by Bonnie Eads – scheduled for June.

Since artist Mark Hershberger created Clockwork Fury for the 2010 Horse Fever, the horse has been on display as the “signature greeter and ambassador” at Journeyman Stud, welcoming visitors from around the globe. Owners Crystal and Brent Fernung decided to donate Clockwork Fury to Horse Fever 20/20 to help raise new funds for the community. Hershberger was commissioned to refurbish the horse he created and, in the process, “upgrade to 2020 technology” so it can be auctioned off – the only horse in this year’s herd that will be auctioned.

The proceeds from the March 16 auction of Clockwork Fury will be split between MCA and the Florida Thoroughbred Charities.

MCA will use 100 percent of its share to fund arts organizations and arts programs, which it has been doing since it was created in the wake of the original Horse Fever.

Baillie said the impact of Horse Fever and what it has spawned has been profound on Ocala’s arts community.

“It’s engaged the arts community,” she said. “It’s provided support to our arts community. It’s been a revenue source for us, and one of our goals is to give away more money through our cultural arts grants.”

So far, Baillie said, MCA has awarded almost $400,000 in cultural arts grants.

The Florida Thoroughbred Charities intend to use its share of the Clockwork Fury proceeds to boost its Second Chances Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Farm at Lowell Correctional Institution for women. The Second Chances program provides a place for old thoroughbreds to retire, with the inmates from Lowell tending to them as part of the program.

“There is no other program like it in North America,” Fernung said. “The Second Chances Farm heals not only the horses that retire there, but more importantly, the women who care for them, offering a second chance at life for both. With a recidivism rate of around 3 percent, Second Chances is a proven success.”

The auction of Clockwork Fury will be the last horse of the first day of Ocala Breeders’ Sales’ Select 2-year-old-In-Training Sale on March 16.

There are 300 raffle tickets for each of the Giving Collection horses selling for $100 apiece. Tickets can be obtained by contacting the MCA at 352/369-1500.

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