Marsh tacky races coming to Beaufort

3 mins read

Photo above: The marsh tacky is the South Carolina state heritage horse and one of the most endangered breeds in the world. They once roamed freely by the hundreds through the South Carolina Sea Islands and Lowcountry, but their numbers neared extinction as tractors, trucks and development took the place of horsepower. Today, only around 400 marsh tacky horses remain. Photo by Aileen Goldstein.

The Santa Elena Foundation will present “A Lowcountry Fair with Historical Flair,” a fun-filled day that will include marsh tacky horse races, horse shows, living history re-enactments, weapons demonstrations, music and special performances, children’s petting zoo and activities, refreshments and much more.

It will be held on the private grounds of Cotton Hall Plantation in Northern Beaufort County from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 18.

“The Lowcountry Fair will be a stand-out event for the community to enjoy and experience early local heritage mixed in with plenty of good fun, food and friendship,” said Megan Meyer, executive director of the Santa Elena History Center. “This furthers the promotion of our efforts to highlight Beaufort County’s unique history and collaborate with many organizations and individuals throughout the community.”

Headlining the event are the marsh tacky horses, whose races will provide an exciting show for the crowd. Led by the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association, the races will showcase horses from all parts of the Southeast and bring awareness to the special breed originally introduced by the Spanish explorers of the 16th century. 

“We are excited to bring the marsh tacky race back to the Lowcountry. As we strive to save the breed, it’s important to celebrate their historical significance,” said Jackie McFadden, secretary of the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association. “By partnering with the Santa Elena Foundation the day of racing will be even more enjoyable with myriad other activities on the grounds of such a special place.”

Tickets will be available for purchase in advance (online) and at the gate on the date of the event. Levels include: $20 for adults; $10 for children (ages 5-15); $50 for families; and $40 for active duty military families. 

Also available to help the event generate proceeds for the Santa Elena Foundation’s mission are patron tickets at $100 and recognized sponsorship levels starting at $500.

The event is weather contingent and all donations will benefit the Santa Elena Foundation.


To learn more about the SC Marsh Tacky Association, visit

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