It was a breezy 62 degrees in Moscow as the Appy Festival got underway at the Appaloosa Museum and Heritage Center. Attendees could enjoy the sunshine with some live music, food and a quick horse ride.

Children milled between the new garden, the horse riding line and the playroom in the museum. Inside, they could watch a documentary about the Appaloosa horse, admire the bead work on display and learn about western history.

The Appy festival expanded this year from the previous years, when the festival was mainly horse rides. Lauren McCleary, a current board member with the museum and heritage center, said this is the first year they added live music and the pop-up tables to the event to complement the history visitors could learn about inside the museum.

“We wanted events outside that would compliment what they learn inside,” McCleary said.

Juli Thorson, a supporter of the museum, said the organization has been doing an Appy Festival for at least the last 15 years. Thorson had served on the board of the museum for more than 20 years. She said the museum has been in its current location, at 2720 Pullman Rd., in Moscow since 1975, and it expanded in the 1990s to its current size. The museum started as part of the Appaloosa Horse Club.

The Appaloosa name first appeared around the late 1800s, according to the museum’s website. Appaloosa horses were well-liked among the Nez Perce Tribe because of their speed, and the breed flourished on the Palouse. When white settlers came to the Palouse region, they referred to the spotted horse as “a Palouse horse,” and over time this name was slurred together to form “Apalousey” and later “Appaloosa.”

At the festival, families were able to wander through both sides of the museum and see the role the horse has played in history. Children inside tested out different saddles in the play area and asked Mom and Dad for a dollar to buy a chance to win a stuffed horse.

The museum had the royalty from the Chief Joseph Foundation, a nonprofit organization promoting Nez Perce culture and getting local children into horseback riding. The foundation was created in 1991 from a donation from George B. Hatley. The foundation has programs for children ages six to 18, which covers everything from the basics of horse handling and culturally relevant crafts.

Lucy Samuels, vice chairperson of the foundation and Royalty Committee chairperson said the royalty was created in 2018 and there are usually two to three young women in the court every year.

There are two young women in the court this year: Natasha SlimJohn and Abigail Whitman. They will serve on the royalty for one year and do many different events in the area. They will visit rodeos, participate in parades and are planning to visit Washington D.C. in the next week, Samuels said.

Both SlimJohn and Whitman met with United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland at Dworshak Dam and Resevoir last week. They both said visiting the rodeos and representing the foundation was fun for them.

Kali Nelson can be reached at

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