“The whole industry has changed,” Devon show manager David Distler told mainlinetoday.com. “Devon was one of a handful of top shows in the country. As more shows came around, a lot of the older, more prestigious shows didn’t change with the times.”
Over the past few years, the management at Devon have worked to update their event. The Grand Prix, which previously offered $100,000 in prize money is now up to $225,000 in order to attract Olympic-caliber professional riders and the spectators they draw.
Visitors will notice a few changes to make the fan experience better as well. This year, the show has added temporary box seating to accommodate more spectators. It’s a rare opportunity to give more people access to box seats; show chairman Wayne Grafton says the wait list for box seats at the show currently stretches nearly 30 years.
Additionally, two new LED screens have been installed to allow more spectators to have a better view of the competition at the historic Pennsylvania fairgrounds.
Devon continues to offer plenty for equestrians and horse-loving spectators. The show schedule includes a full slate of hunter, jumper and equitation classes along with carriage driving, Saddlebreds, Hackney Ponies, and Friesians. A dog show will kick off the festivities tonight, May 25, with classes for jumping, agility, costumes, tricks, and more.
On Sunday, May 28, three-day eventers will get their chance to ride in the show’s historic Dixon Oval in the $50,000 Devon Arena Eventing competition. Arena eventing puts cross-country style jumps in the arena for a spectator-friendly, compact version of the iconic phase of eventing.
The Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon, named for the great show jumping mare who was a regular competitor at Devon with rider McLain Ward, will take place on Thursday, June 1 at 8:00 p.m.
Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com