Benton County 4-H horseback carolers
The young riders, who are all members of Benton County 4-H, sing Christmas carols Friday afternoon on Applegate Street. From left, Lilly Lopez, Jessica McLennan and Brooke McKinley. (Photo by Eric Niemann)
  • Lilly Lopez riding Disco
  • Benton County 4-H horseback carolers
  • Jessica McLennan and Brooke McKinley
  • Payton Bates with Gracie

The horseback carolers were out and about again this year to bring Christmas cheer to a Philomath neighborhood.

Last year, I wrote about this group’s efforts to put smiles on people’s faces as they visited various spots and broke out in song. It’s one of those things that just makes you happy to live in a small town like Philomath.

This year’s event was originally supposed to happen next week but when organizers saw a forecast full of rain, they quickly regrouped and did their riding and singing on Friday afternoon instead (which turned out to be a beautiful day).

The pandemic led to this happening for the first time last year as horse owners looked for a way to get out and ride since all of their activities were getting canceled.

The group met at the First Baptist Church on South 26th Street and headed off into the neighborhood. Eric Niemann had accompanied the group last December when he was still mayor and he was involved again this time around.

“Much smaller group this year because of the last-minute scramble but we are going for it,” Niemann said through a text he sent to me.

Unfortunately, the last-minute event didn’t work out with my schedule so I couldn’t catch them this time around but Eric sent me some photos to post with this blog. So check out the slideshow above.

You’ll see Lilly Lopez, a freshman at Philomath High, riding Disco; Payton Bates, a West Albany High student, with a miniature Appaloosa; Jessica McLennnan and Brooke McKinley singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” outside Out West Farm & Ranch; and Briahna Ledbetter on Daisy with her miniature horse, Snickers, and her mother, D’ann, on Dandy.

The young people are all members of Benton County 4-H.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at