Anthony Downs Auction Doubles As Race Reunion

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Friday, July 20, 2012

A piece of Kansas history will soon be on its way to several new homes.

Bidders gathered as everything at the century-old Anthony Downs horse and dog race track was auctioned off Friday evening.

The auction was about much more than people getting their hands on history. It was a bit of a reunion as well.

"Very few buyers here, probably, but a lot of reminiscing." remarked John Ridenhour, who served as the race announcer at Anthony Downs for 40 years. "I've gotten to see people I haven't seen in quite a while. Really enjoyed it."

There were about 90 people registered to bid as pieces of the historic Anthony Downs were auctioned off, but most of those at the auction were there to remember, including Ridenhour.

"It's a little bit sad in a way," he said. "Of course, we came. I wanted to see the people again."

He is also going home with the announcer's stand.

"I don't know why," he said laughing. "My wife will kill me when I get home and stick it in her yard, but I thought it'd be kind of neat."

Bidders and other attendees were not just locals.

"There are people here that raced here through the years," said Dan Bird. "They ran horses out of that starting gate and were bidding on it just because they ran horses out of it."

Bird was the president of the fair board, which organized the races for 22 years. He said Anthony was an annual destination for many people.

"I go all over the United states and I'll run into somebody somewhere that knows of Anthony Downs," Bird said. "It is amazing."

Bird and Ridenhour are among many who hate to see the downs go, but they know nothing lasts forever.

"Us old people kind of like to live in the past," Ridenhour said. "But that isn't the way it works."

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