DEVON, Pa. (CBS) – It’s a summer party on Friday and we’ve taken a trip over to the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. The show, which is the oldest and largest outdoor multi-race horse show in the United States, continues through this weekend.
The riders are ready for the ring, and riders of a different kind are already walking around and around.
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The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair are back.
“Just so much excitement,” said Christine Conners, of the fair’s executive committee. “Our ticket sales are out of this world. Our contributions are full.”
And the crowds fill the stands.
This year, thousands of athletes from around the world are competing, all hoping to grab a coveted “Devon Blue” first-place ribbon.
“There are a lot of families who are striving for a blue Devon ribbon,” said Wayne Grafton, who is chairman of the board. “And I’m told in the equestrian world that it means its weight in gold.”
After all, the Devon Horse show is steeped in history.
Now more than 125 years old, Devon is the oldest and largest multi-race outdoor equestrian event in the country.
But its beginning was humble.
It started in 1896 as a way to bring farmers and the Main Line nobility together for a one-day event.
“To encourage the promotion and breeding of certain types of horses, and from there, the disciplines and classes grew,” said Charlene Keller Fulmer, a board member of the foundation at the show.
“The number of disciplines that come through Devon does that unlike most horse shows that exist,” Grafton said.
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Now for 11 days, even Olympic athletes can be seen in the ring.
But none of that would be possible without the women of Devon.
When the event was in jeopardy during World War I, it was women who made the decision to make the show a charitable effort by benefiting Bryn Mawr Hospital.
And now, after a two-year pandemic break, women are once again working to bring it back.
Many of them volunteer.
“But the fact that women have supported this organization for 125 years is quite remarkable,” Keller Fulmer said.
And there is also plenty to do outside the ring. The national fair boasts dozens of vendors that will make you remember the Devon Horse Show for many years to come.
There is shopping, plenty of food and family-friendly activities, including a new craft stall for children.
Midway through, visitors will find the carousel and the iconic Ferris wheel.
After all these years, the proceeds still go to Bryn Mawr Hospital.
That’s nearly $ 20 million thanks to the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair.
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“It brings out the best in the community, and high-level philanthropy and athletics, and it does not match anywhere else,” Conners said.