BOONVILLE, Mo. – Spring means the return of baseball and, in just a few days, opening day celebrations around the United States. It also marks another annual event celebrated by fans of the Budweiser Clydesdales – “opening day” at Warm Springs Ranch in mid-Missouri for public tours, where more than 35 baby Clydesdales are expected to be born in 2013.
Jeff Knapper, general manager for Clydesdale operations for Anheuser-Busch, said that through March 27, seventeen baby Clydesdales have been born at Anheuser-Busch’s state-of-the-art Clydesdale breeding farm, which is home to more than 100 Budweiser Clydesdales. This includes Hope, the star of Budweiser’s award-winning and top-ranked Super Bowl commercial, and Stan, the first-born foal of 2013, named after all-time MLB great Stan Musial.
Public tours begin Monday, April 1, and the ranch remains open until Oct. 31.
“Some tour dates, particularly Saturdays in the spring, already are sold out,” Knapper said. “On some other days there is limited availability. The popularity of the Super Bowl spot has certainly piqued the public’s curiosity around the training of Budweiser Clydesdales and how they spend their early years.”
The ranch offers twice-daily tours every day except for Wednesday. The tour costs $10 per person and lasts one-and-a-half hours. To reserve a tour spot (reservations are required) or for more information, visit www.warmspringsranch.com.
New for 2013, the ranch now offers a VIP tour. On the tour, guests climb aboard a custom-built vehicle to enjoy a private excursion on the 300-plus acres and talk with Clydesdale handlers. The VIP tour also includes time in the pastures with the Clydesdales, as well as samples of Budweiser for adult guests older than 21 at the end of the tour and a photo opportunity with one of the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales. Each VIP tour costs $500 and can accommodate up to 16 guests, with the tour offered once daily.
In a little more than a week, on April 7, the Clydesdales will celebrate a major milestone – the 80th anniversary of their association with Anheuser-Busch. The Budweiser Clydesdales have been an integral part of Anheuser-Busch’s heritage since April 7, 1933, and their strength and majesty symbolize Budweiser quality and team spirit. They were formally introduced to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition for beer.
John Soto, supervisor of Warm Springs Ranch (pictured with Hope), has been providing care for the Clydesdales for 33 years. In fact, he was the inspiration for the handler featured in the “Brotherhood” Super Bowl commercial that won USA Today’s AdMeter.
“Since the Super Bowl, many people have asked me what it feels like to have been portrayed by an actor on such a large stage,” Soto said. “I tell them I’m humbled and lucky, but that’s really how I feel every day, getting to share my life with and care for these beautiful animals, each of which has their own personality.”
In 2012 Warm Springs Ranch welcomed 16,252 visitors from around the world, up more than 36 percent from the year before, and also welcomed 28 baby Clydesdales: 18 fillies (girls) and 10 colts (boys). For opening week this year, visitors from more than 10 states, spanning from California to Florida, have already reserved spots on the tours.