Devon, Pa. – June 9, 2023 – As the 2023 Devon Horse Show and Country Fair (DHSCF) winds down, fans and competitors alike are beginning to look back at the famous 11-day show. During this year’s competition, the horse show saw a record number of attendees over the course of nearly two weeks. These record attendance numbers would not have been possible without the countless number of exhibitors who traveled from near and far to try for the highly coveted ‘Devon Blue’ ribbons and championship titles, as well as the different volunteers who eagerly worked to make the show the best it could be.
This year marked the 127th DHSCF, allowing the historical traditions to continue. The show is the oldest and largest, multi-breed outdoor show in North America, earning its start in the summer of 1896.
As the show evolved, many changes have occurred. This past year provided no exception. Pat Boyle and Phil Devita were named the new horse show managers shortly after the conclusion of the 2022 show. Their new energy and efforts did not fall short of expectations, bringing a whole host of new activities and energy to the iconic venue.
The $226,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon ushers in thousands of spectators each year. Those who shared the grand experience and excitement of Ashlee Bond (ISR) and Donatello 141 eagerly galloping to the prestigious victory were amongst the record number of attendees who came to the sold-out event. Additionally a display of power from the classic Budweiser Clydesdales over three days, a nod to history with the Coaching Championships, and an ode to those who serve and have served our country by the Valley Forge Military Academy Color Guard, the Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4* truly made history for the 127-year-old horse show.
Sharing the spotlight were some of the world’s greatest equestrians, who traveled from varying geographical locations to experience the show’s thrill and distinction. The American Saddlebred Epoque Kiss NKF shook fans of the Five-Gaited discipline to their core, as this provided the chance to see a world champion horse in the flesh. Ridden and trained by Burt Honaker (USA), the pair rode to the $3,000 Five-Gaited Saddle Horse Stake victory, making their stop to Devon, Pa. complete with an etched spot on the Walter Graham Memorial Perpetual Trophy. Five-time Olympian McLain Ward (USA) also drew crowds again this year, landing on the first-place spot for the international show jumping podium twice in the last week. Having been an exhibitor and fan of the DHSCF since he was a child, Ward has won the Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon 12 times.
McLain stated “[The Dixon Oval], for me, has really become my home. I get great energy from the crowd–I love it–and no matter how many places I go in the world and great experiences I get to have, I love coming back here,” said Ward after winning the 2022 $250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*. “I feel at home here, and this is a very comfortable place… I always come here with my top horses! While I enjoy it, when I have a bad day here or something goes wrong, it feels like family, and they are understanding.”
At the core of all of the excitement, fun, games and horse showing are the sponsors of the DHSCF. Their support year-after-year allows communities to come together and bond over shared loves of horses and a commitment to giving back to the beneficiary, Bryn Mawr Hospital.
The Country Fair did not disappoint with top shopping vendors adorning their best merchandise while the food vendors supplied their tastiest menu display all 11 days. No Devon experience would be complete without a “Devon Special” including the ever anticipated “Devon Fries” and a delicious hamburger. With all the attendees visiting this year all parents seemed to make sure that at least one stop included the famous midway to let their children enjoy the rides.