Under New Leadership, the Tradition Continues at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair

Devon President Rich O'Donnell, 'we know the exhibitors, spectators and the volunteers are key to our success' by Brenda Carpenter Photography
Devon President Rich O'Donnell, 'we know the exhibitors, spectators and the volunteers are key to our success' by Brenda Carpenter Photography

Devon, PA - March 22, 2015 - When the 2015 Devon Horse Show and Country Fair swings open the gates at the famed show grounds just off Lancaster Avenue for the 119th edition of this classic American showcase of equestrian excellence and family entertainment, there will be new, dynamic leadership at the helm. New leadership determined to continue the long standing record of first class horsemanship, popular family fun and the long and impressive history of generous support for the Bryn Mawr Hospital. In fact, this year's slogan, 'The Tradition Continues,' reflects the goals of the two men who will be leading that charge.

Elected in December, the new President is Richard M. O'Donnell of Unionville, PA. The new Chairman is Wayne W. Grafton also of Unionville. Both men have been directly involved in the Chester County equestrian community for years and it's that experience that will help guide the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair in the years to come.

In addition to his role as President of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, O'Donnell has seen duty as Treasurer of the show, as well as Treasurer of the Kimberton Hunt Club. He also worked as Treasurer and Honorary Director of the Carriage Association of America, Trustee of the Hoopes-Addis Foundation and Treasurer and Trustee of the Montgomery County Bar Foundation. He is also a Member of the Philadelphia Four In Hand Club.

Working with large groups of people is one of O'Donnell's strengths, a trait that will come in handy in dealing with Devon's staff, hundreds of specialized personnel and thousands of volunteers. "After 40 years in the banking profession and overseeing their retail division which encompassed nearly 700 employees at 60 branches, I thought, that's a good start," he smiled. "Even though we have close to 2500 volunteers here at Devon, that experience gives me a chance to see who they are and the valuable time they give of themselves to volunteer for our organization."

Devon Show Chairman, Wayne Grafton 'creating a future vision for the Devon Show and Country Fair'
Devon Show Chairman, Wayne Grafton 'creating a future vision for the Devon Show and Country Fair'

Devon Show Chairman, Wayne Grafton, has held senior management and consulting positions in the public and private sectors, as well as for non-profit organizations for 40 years. Mr. Grafton holds a Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning. He is a well-known lecturer on Land Use Planning issues and is a Principle in The Grafton Association. Throughout his career he has continuously been involved with a variety of philanthropic activities. Grafton has been on the Board and is a past President of the Ludwigs Corner Horse Show. Currently, he is President of The Philadelphia Four-in-Hand Club. He has been a box holder and supporter of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair for more than 30 years and his wife, Marjorie, has been a competitor in the carriage division for many years.

"I'm looking forward to the 2015 Show, the return of our wonderful volunteers, and our continued support of Bryn Mawr Hospital," Grafton said. "I'm delighted to be working closely with a long-time friend, Rich O'Donnell, and the many Board members I've worked with over years. I am confident we will meet the challenges that come with producing a world class show with great success at our iconic show grounds."

"Our goal is to run a very successful Show in 2015, and we know the exhibitors, spectators and the volunteers are key to that success," O'Donnell continued. "We want to 'wow' the exhibitors and 'wow' the spectators. Devon is known for its professional image and service, so we must continue to provide those qualities in order to serve all our audiences well."

Popular Devon souvenirs, a sell out every year
Popular Devon souvenirs, a sell out every year

O'Donnell knows that keeping the large spectator base interested and excited about coming back to the show is job one. "As far as the spectators, I think it's important to recognize that we have horsey spectators and non-horsey spectators, so what goes on in the ring is very important as far as exhibition, entertainment and of course, horsemanship. And I think the spectators and exhibitors alike are going to be 'wowed' this year with our in-ring entertainment," he said.

I am delighted that our slogan for 2015 is "The Tradition Continues," stated Grafton. "Devon is Tradition. Tradition transcends all our activities, from the schedule of events to all of the activities and the expectations of our competitors, our volunteers and especially of our sponsors. The challenge has been, gaining a clear understanding of these many traditions and balancing them in the context of where our wonderful venue needs to be as we look forward into the future, and as we continue to create a future vision for the Devon Show Chairman, Wayne Grafton."

Part of the continuing success of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is a desire to constantly improve an already superb product. "Many changes in recent years, including the upgrading of our grounds, rings, and buildings will be further improved as we have dedicated ourselves to not only the preservation, but improvement of our facilities and grounds at our historic Devon property on the Philadelphia Main Line," Grafton noted. "A recent addition to our facilities is the new 'Devon Club' where corporate sponsors, community organizations and spectators will be able to be entertained in a spectacular fully-catered facility near the Dixon Oval."

One of the future stars of Devon makes her first appearance in the popular Leadline class with famed trainer, Ray Francis
One of the future stars of Devon makes her first appearance in the popular Leadline class with famed trainer, Ray Francis

And Grafton added, "In a recent important action, the show has also increased its commitment in terms of pledges to our long time beneficiary, the Bryn Mawr Hospital."  

The relationship with Bryn Mawr has been a successful one for both parties. To date, volunteers at Devon have raised over approximately $47 million in today's dollars in their efforts to ensure that Bryn Mawr Hospital remains one of the top community hospitals in the country.

In fact, the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair was honored as the 2014 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraising Group by the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) at its annual National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon last November.

Thanks to Devon, Bryn Mawr Hospital provides critical medical care to nearly 250,000 patients and families each year. Virtually every unit and department in the Hospital have been strengthened by Devon's gifts over the years. Recent examples include the Neuro-Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Barbara Brodsky Comprehensive Breast Center, Emergency Department, Inpatient Pediatric Unit, Neonatal ICU, Labor and Delivery Unit and the Wound Healing Center. For more information about Bryn Mawr Hospital, visit www.brynmawrhospital.org.

The excitement of the Roadster Ponies at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair
The excitement of the Roadster Ponies at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair

"Devon is a very special show," said O'Donnell. "It's the oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed horse show in this country and I am delighted to be President of such a fine organization. We have a very long, successful history of raising money for our beneficiary, Bryn Mawr Hospital, and running a world class event. The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is unique in that it is over 90% volunteer managed and staffed. My goal is to bring together Board Members, leadership, and volunteers as one team and work toward making Devon shine like never before."

He continued, "Obviously Devon is 'Where Champions Meet,' so we have to shoot for the stars and that's kind of where I really put my goal for 2015. My goal is to see Devon succeed and stay right where it is today for a long time. That's a pretty important tradition that I want to continue to carry on."

And the important task of keeping the famed Devon Horse Show And Country Fair at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Dorset Rd. in Devon is paramount. "Devon is here to stay, it's not moving."

This year's event runs from May 21 - May 31, 2015.




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