For a horse show like Devon, it would be easy to rely on historical status to stand out in an increasingly crowded market of high-level horse shows. The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair started in 1896 and has been run more-or-less continuously ever since. In order to maintain its relevance, though, the show has had to make some changes without losing the traditional vibe that makes it a family favorite.
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.
The show will be streamed online via USEF Network. Tap here to access the livestream.
Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com