Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

July 9, 2013

Budweiser Clydesdales coming to Ashland

ASHLAND — The Clydesdales are coming.

The iconic Budweiser Clydesdales, that is.

The world-famous horse team, which has served as a symbol for the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Co. for 80 years, will be making three Tri-State appearances this week, including one in Ashland, to honor the performance of a local beer distributor.

Three eight-horse “hitches,” or teams of Clydesdales, tour each region of the country, Midwest, East Coast and West Coast, for most of the year. The East Coast hitch will be Ironton from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday near the Ro-Na Theater in the city’s downtown; in Ashland along Winchester Avenue from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday; and at Pullman Square in downtown Huntington from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday.

Triple Crown Beverage Group, which operates Anheuser-Busch distributorships in all three cities — Eagle Distributing in Ashland, Spriggs Distributing in Ironton and Eagle Distributing in Huntington — earned the Clydesdales visit as part of the company’s Ambassadors of Excellence Award received by the Ashland Eagle division. The award is the company’s highest honor for an independent distributor.

Eagle was one of only six distributors in the company’s nationwide network of more than 600 independent distributors to earn the ambassador award. The award program recognizes top-performing wholesalers for their commitment to excellence in all facets of their operation, including facilities and fleet management, sales, marketing and community outreach.

Winning the award also means Eagle will always be known as part of the inaugural class of Ambassabors, said Nick Williams, general manager of Triple Crown Beverage. The award program was begun three years ago by Anheuser-Busch and qualifying for the award is a three-year process, he said.

Williams said the company was thrilled and proud for Eagle to have been chosen as an Ambassador, particularly in light of the fact the Ashland division is the smallest of Triple Crown’s three divisions.

“It’s a real feather in our cap,” he said.

The Clydesdales will be on hand during the presentation of the “Big Jake” Award, a bronze Clydesdale statue given to ambassadors. The awards ceremony will take place at the Huntington warehouse following the team’s appearance at Pullman Square, Williams said.

The Budweiser Clydesdales were first introduced to the public on April 7, 1933, to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. According to Wikipedia, August A. Busch Jr. presented the hitch as a gift to his father, August Anheuser Busch Sr., who was guided outside the brewery by the ruse of being told his son had purchased him a new car, but instead was greeted by the horses, pulling a red, white and gold beer wagon. The hitch proceeded to carry the first case of post-Prohibition beer from the St. Louis brewery in a special journey down Pestalozzi Street in St. Louis.

Recognizing the advertising and promotional potential of a horse-drawn beer wagon, Busch Sr. had the team sent by rail to New York City, where it picked up two cases of Budweiser beer at New Jersey's Newark Airport, and presented them to Al Smith, former governor of New York and an instrumental force in the repeal of Prohibition. From there, the Clydesdales continued on a tour of New England and the Mid-Atlantic States, a journey that included the delivery of a case of beer to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House.

The history of Eagle Distributing also dates back to 1933, when the Spriggs family began serving the Ashland market and 10-county surrounding area. The family founded its first wholesale distributorship in Ohio in 1934. The consolidation of the Ashland, Huntington and Ironton operations began in 2009.

Triple Crown Beverage is co-owned by Casey Hill, Guy Spriggs and Scott Spriggs. James Pauken is part owner of the Huntington division only.

Triple Crown services more than 500 retailers in the three states. In addition to the Anheuser-Busch beer brands, the company serves as a distributor for Yuengling beer in Ohio and West Virginia, and for various other beverages, including Monster energy drinks.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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