It's that time of year again, everyone heads to Devon. Not England, but Main Line Philadelphia. The show runs from May 24 through June 3.
Devon is probably the most competitive horse show in the country and to participate you have to qualify, meaning the number of entries is limited, it's the best of the best. The show started over a century ago when a group of foxhunting enthusiasts pooled their resources to purchase a small piece of land in Chester County, PA (the Main Line just outside Philadelphia). Today more than 400 people own coveted Devon Horse Show boxes which are passed down from generation to generation. Over 100,000 people attend the show and "county fair" which donates large sums to Bryn Mawr Hospital.
The show started in 1896 and offered "a little bit of everything for everyone" from harness to saddle horses to heavy and light hunters and children's ponies. No show was held during the war years (1900 to 1910) but by 1914 the show had grown to become the largest outdoor horse show in the world and raised more than $9000 for aid for soldiers overseas (a large sum of money at the time).
Hope Montgomery Scott is remembered as "the heart of the horse show" and was an accomplished rider. She is the inspiration for Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story so aptly portrayed by the late Katherine Hepburn. The photo below was taken at the show. She was the chair of the Board of Directors for many years.
Today the Horse Show attracts the best in the horse show world. The first weekend is "Junior Weekend" dominated by ponies, junior hunter and equitation classes. The professional divisions and the amateurs follow on the schedule. This photo of a pony is from 1966.
This photo, taken in 1941, by a Philadelphia Enquirer photographer shows a hunter class in the Wanamaker Ring, named after William H. Wanamaker, a prominant Philadelphia businessman who founded the show.
There is something for everyone at Devon. If you live close enough to make the trip, by all means go. You'll see the best horses in the country, great shopping, fabulous food, a country fair and a piece of history.