Wednesday, April 26 2023 10:13

The 127th Devon Horse Show

Written by Laurel Anderson
Photos by Brenda Carpenter

Come for 11 days of excitement inside and outside the rings.

May is full of equestrian fun, starting with steeplechase racing during the first three weekends of the month. Then for 11 days, thousands of visitors come to share what’s happening behind the blue walls at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair.

“The Tradition Continues” is an apt motto for this legendary horse show unlike any other. In fact, it’s the oldest and largest outdoor multibreed horse show in North America. But more important, it’s tons of fun for the generations of riders and fans who look forward to memories made here.

And it’s back for 2023!

What’s New in the Ring

This year the Devon Horse Show welcomes back the Budweiser Clydesdales. Celebrating their 90th anniversary, these majestic teams of horses and the iconic Budweiser wagon will be wowing crowds as they circle the Dixon Oval for three evenings, from Thursday, June 1 through Saturday, June 3.

For fans of high stakes show jumping, a new Grand Prix event has been added to the schedule. Longtime Devon fans know to mark their calendars for the annual Sapphire Grand Prix (this year on Thursday, June 1) to share the thrills and chills of watching some of the best-known international competitors clear breathtaking heights for $226,000 in prizes. For yet another edge-of-your-seat adrenaline rush, return on Saturday, June 3, for more Grand Prix-level performances. The $145,100 Idle Dice Jumper Stake will extend the course to jumps in both the Dixon Oval and the Wheeler Ring. This year’s jumps will be even higher, and international competitors will be part of the heart-stopping action.

Earlier in the show, join the fun for Hunt Night on Saturday, May 27. During Junior Weekend, these team of three riders negotiate a course of jumps, with the finale of jumping the last fence in tandem — a remarkable feat of coordination and teamwork. The Radnor Hunt hounds add more flavor to the theme of the evening.

And, of course, every day has its own special events, from the breed show, to striking saddlebred riders, to the elegant carriages that parade through the Devon neighborhood before arriving at the Dixon Oval.

Family Fun Every Day

There’s plenty of family fun each of the 11 days of the Devon Horse Show. The Country Fair opens daily around 9 a.m. and the Midway attractions an hour later for a full day of games plus rides on the Ferris wheel and carousel.

Seasoned fans know special days are earmarked as Family Days, featuring extra activities and specials on rides, souvenirs and food. The first Family Day is Thursday, May 25, with another on Tuesday, May 30, which includes a free guided Back Barns Tour.

On May 25, get your fill of classic Devon food — tea sandwiches, lemon sticks and fudge plus new kid-friendly options at Sips & Bits (where parents can enjoy upscale fare) — to prepare for the Dog Show at 7 p.m. in the Dixon Oval. Watch canine competitors attempt Simon Says, parade in the Novelty Division and follow along in a Doggie Lead Line costume contest parade. Don’t miss the new Selfie Station for pets and handlers — got to get that selfie!

Other days for kids include Saturday, May 27, when the youngest Devon riders circle the Dixon Oval in the Lead Line for under-3 and under-5 mini-equestrians. Later that day, older children ride and jump in colorful costumes in the Pony Hunt Club events in the Wheeler Ring.

Celebrate Memorial Day at the Horse Show with the tradition of honoring our community heroes, including local military and emergency responders, in a Tribute to Heroes.

The final Sunday, June 4, also highlights family fun for Children’s Day with the Itty Bitty Tea Party (reservations required for three seatings) and Itty Bitty Hat Parade.

Art, Fashion, Shopping and More

Find art at the Horse Show in a charming cottage that becomes the Art Gallery at Devon and is filled with original artwork. The Art Gallery is the site of the First Night party and fundraiser, when guests get a first look at (and chance to purchase) art on display.

You’ll find antiques, collectibles and more in other cottages scattered under the sycamores in the Country Fair. Although not art, souvenirs with the historic Devon logo are also treasured purchases. From stuffed toys to coffee mugs to clothing and silver jewelry, there’s something for you with the blue and white logo on it. And stop by the Devon Derby booth for a chance to win prizes, including a two-year lease on a Land Rover Defender.

The Horse Show attracts a fashionable crowd every day, with folks stepping up their game on Grand Prix nights. But it’s on Ladies Day, Wednesday, May 31, that the fashionistas are out in force, especially for the Hat Contest with local and celebrity judges (Adam Joseph, Jeff Devlin and Carson Kressley, schedule permitting) deciding who best embodies the “Devon in Bloom” theme.

For competitors outside the ring, box owners can enter the “Grandest of the Grandstands” competition, Friday, June 2. It’s tailgating, but in Devon box seats, complete with flowers, silver and scrumptious displays of food.

And the for the final tradition, there’s a Plant Sale to find new homes for the many colorful plants and flowers that enlivened the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair for 2023.

If You Go

WHAT: The Devon Horse Show & Country Fair

WHERE: Devon Horse Show Grounds, Lancaster Ave., Devon

WHEN: May 24–June 4; grounds open 8 a.m. to around 10 p.m.

INFORMATION: and Facebook

BENEFICIARY: Bryn Mawr Hospital

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