Devon Horse Show and Country Fair
The oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed horse competition in the United States
May 21-31, 2015
What started as a one-day event in 1896 as a local effort to improve horsemanship and breeding for Philadelphians who lived along the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Harrison Branch, otherwise known as “The Main Line,” is now a time-honored tradition. The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, a 10-day event, attracts horse lovers from around the world.
Look for big crowds at the Thursday Grand Prix (May 28), which is so competitive that horses must complete a year-long qualifying process in order to compete. Also popular is the Country Fair, where you can tour the stables and meet the horses and riders as well as nibble treats from local vendors and take in a juried art competition.
If you’re more into shopping around than horsing around, the grounds are filled with boutiques set up in cottages offering a variety of stylishly equine items like leather chaps and saddles, custom-made boots, blankets, jewelry, paintings, antiques, toys, needlework, pottery, souvenirs and collectibles.
Plus, The Country Fair portion of the horse show include festival-appropriate concessions (think burgers, hot dogs, cotton candy, fudge and pizza), lots of vendor booths, an art gallery and a giant Midway featuring a Ferris wheel, carousel and game booths for all ages.
Some of the original events at this time-honored show included “Brood Mares with Foal at Foot,” “Stallions Suitable to get an All-Purpose horse,” and “Saddle Horses Capable of Going the Regulation Kentucky Gaits.” Sadly, you won’t find these events on the modern program.
The story of the Devon Horse Show dates back to the late 1800s, when the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Harrison branch, which includes the Devon station, became known as “The Main Line.”
By the spring of 1896, many of the well-to-do families who maintained homes along the Main Line still needed a horse and carriage to get to and from the train station. To encourage the breeding of more and better horses, the heads of several prominent families created the Devon Horse Show Association, and decided to hold a one-day Horse Show at the Devon Race Track and Polo Grounds.
Devon is now honored with the designation of a USEF Heritage Competition, an award reserved for competitions that have been in existence for more than a quarter century and promoted and grown the equestrian sport.
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