East Dorset, Vermont – The annual Vermont Summer Festival horse show officially opened on Wednesday, July 4, at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT, kicking off six weeks of top hunter and jumper competition. Running July 4 through August 12, 2012, the Vermont Summer Festival offers more than $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event based on purse in the state. The largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show in New England, the Vermont Summer Festival attracts the best athletes, including Olympic medalists, from across the country and around the globe.
Approximately 1,000 horses compete each week during the festival, with many exhibitors returning year after year to enjoy the beautiful location, friendly people and outstanding competition.
Local competitor Susan Wheeler had the honor of being crowned the first champion of the 2012 Vermont Summer Festival, taking home the title in the New England Novice Adult Rider division riding Top Honors, a 14-year-old thoroughbred gelding owned by Linda Orton.
“It’s very exciting to see someone else win on your horse,” said Orton, who runs Honor Own Farm in Hoosick, NY. “It’s one of the greatest things you can experience, and being the first champion of this year’s festival makes it even more special.”
She added, “Competing in Vermont is like coming home. From the office to the show ring, the course designing and the people; the atmosphere is fantastic.”
A familiar face at the Vermont Summer Festival, Wheeler is the Spa Director at the Equinox Resort & Spa, which is returning for its 11th consecutive year as a grand prix sponsor.
Opening week will feature the $10,000 Overland Sheepskin Co. Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, and a $5,000 Hunter Derby, both on Thursday, July 5. The highlight of week one will be the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix, will be held on Saturday, July 7.
New for 2012, the first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival will feature a $30,000 Grand Prix. During week six, the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held on Saturday, August 11. The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, will now be held each Thursday.
The hugely popular $5,000 3'3" Hunter Derby will also be held each Thursday for the first five weeks. Based on the tremendous success of the hunter derbies during their inaugural year in 2011, Vermont Summer Festival show organizers have added a $15,000 Hunter Derby for week six, sponsored by Vermont-based equestrian luggage manufacturer, Oughton Limited.
Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children. All of the gate receipts benefit the a number of Manchester area non-profit organizations, including the Mark Skinner Library, Friends Foundation for MEMS, Community Food Cupboard, and Second Chance Animal Center.
For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont. The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL).
Photo: Susan Wheeler aboard Top Honors, pictured with owner Linda Orton, was crowned the first champion of the 2012 Vermont Summer Festival on July 4 after winning the New England Novice Adult Rider division. Photo by David Mullinix Photography