Devon, PA - The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, May 27 to June 6, boasts the greatest variety of breeds and disciplines, ranging from hunters and jumpers to four-in-hand carriages, Saddlebreds, hackney/harness ponies, hackney horses and ponies, roadster horses and ponies, park horses, country pleasure, western country pleasure, side saddle, pony and horse breeding and Friesians, of any show in the country.
In addition, Devon offers two exhibitions, Stacy Westfall, a bridle-less reining champion who has become world famous through YouTube, and the beloved Budweiser Clydesdales.
The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair has donated almost $14 million to Bryn Mawr Hospital over the nine decades of their association. It takes the efforts of over 2,000 volunteers, many of whom work year-round and all of whom work hours at the show, to keep the Country Fair ticking along.
The Horse Show also has its volunteers, first and foremost Leonard A. King, chairman, and Wade McDevitt, president, but it also has two professional horse show managers, David Distler and Peter Doubleday, as well as professional judges for its myriad divisions and a very competent office staff, including Amy Davis and Meg Wiederseim, who works year-round, and Kathy Gillmer who works from January through June.
There are 30 sky box holders and 436 box holders, some of whom share a box, and boxes are so prized that they are often handed down, generation to generation. An average of about 100,000 paying spectators attend the show annually, swelling the crowds of owners, riders, trainers and grooms that care for the approximately 1,500 horses that compete at Devon.
Devon opens Thursday with a full day of equitation and pony breeding, followed by two days of junior hunters, jumpers and ponies. For pure fun, don’t miss the Pony Hunt Teams, where the riders, and often the ponies, too, are dressed in elaborate costumes and offer gifts to “bribe” the judges, all in good fun. Adult week opens with the Carriage Pleasure Drive, which arrives at the Dixon Oval at about 2 p.m.
Jumpers are the biggest spectator draw, and pony jumpers compete Sunday, Adult Jumpers Monday, young jumpers Tuesday and Wednesday, Amateur Owner Jumpers Friday and Saturday, and open Jumpers Tuesday through Saturday, with exciting classes kicking off the evening performance Tuesday through Friday.
The $100,000 Grand Prix is at 8 p.m. Thursday, the $20,000 Gambler’s Choice Friday, and the $50,000 Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake the last class Saturday evening.
Hunters compete days Monday through Wednesday, with Amateur Owner and Local Hunters Friday and Saturday and the $25,000 International Hunter Derby on Sunday, with the first of two rounds beginning at 10 a.m.
Breeding classes are on Thursday, Side Saddle Wednesday afternoon and evening, carriages nightly Tuesday through Friday and Saddlebreds Wednesday through Saturday.
A number of champions from previous years will be at Devon again this year, including Laura Chapot, who has ridden the Open Jumper Champions and has been Leading Open Jumper Rider for three of the past five years; Scott Stewart, who has had a strangle hold on Leading Hunter Rider for the past six years; Philip Richter, last year’s Amateur Owner Jumper Champion; Reed Kessler, Leading Junior Jumper Rider; and Jessica Springsteen, last year’s Junior Hunter Champion who will show in Junior Jumpers this year.
The Country Fair has redesigned and rebuilt some of its most public spaces, including the Garden Café Pavilion, the Souvenir and the Candy booths, expanded the picnic grove and renovated the interior of the Art Gallery.
The Country Fair offers boutique shopping for sports wear, often appliquéd with a horse, dog or fox design, gorgeous hats, boots, beautiful gold and silver jewelry, again often with an equestrian design, paintings and prints, leather goods, collectibles and souvenirs.
Food to tempt any and all palates ranges from gourmet dining in the Garden Cafe to hot dogs and hamburgers and the famous Devon tea sandwiches, Devon fudge and lemon sticks. Rides and games line the west end of the Fair and include the Ferris wheel, merry-go-round and all kinds of fun games with prizes.
For ticket information, call 610-688-2554. The ticket office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon. General admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under and seniors 65 and over. Devon is also selling tickets through TicketLeap, but ticket packages and seats for the Grand Prix Thursday evening will not be sold over the internet in 2010.
For additional information visit www.devonhorseshow.org.
Photo Credit: Randi Muster 2009