Wednesday, April 27 2022 10:33

The Devon Horse Show Celebrates Its 126th Year!

Written by Laurel Anderson
Photos by Brenda Carpenter

Celebrate 126 years of extraordinary athleticism, horsemanship and family fun

One of our favorite signs of Spring — and further evidence that things are truly returning to normal — is the announcement of the Devon Horse Show schedule. A tradition anticipated each year by world-class equestrians competing for prizes, families looking for fun, and pony riders filled with dreams. When the show posted its 2022 schedule on its website, we all savored the plans for each of the 11 days of festivities on the fabled show grounds.

This year celebrates 126 years of extraordinary athleticism, horsemanship and family fun, when the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair opens on Thursday, May 26 and continues filling the days and nights with festivities inside and outside the ring through June 5 at its historic home grounds just off Lancaster Avenue.

A fixture on the social calendar, the Devon Horse Show is the oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed horse show in North America. If you’re a fan, you’ve surely missed the past two-year hiatus. If you’re yet to become a fan, we urge you to join in the fun.

Family Fun

Families have looked forward to the Devon Horse Show, and especially the fun at the County Fair, for generations. From the towering Ferris wheel lighting up the night sky to the classic carousel with carved horses, there’s plenty to do on the Midway, including snacking on fried Oreos, cotton candy and ice cream as well as crowd-favorites like Devon fudge and lemon sticks.

Make plans to come on Family Days, Thursday, May 26 and Tuesday, May 31, with special activities planned for everyone — that means entertainment, food and fun all day long. And come back for the Itty Bitty Tea Party on Sunday, May 29 (reservations required) and Itty Bitty Hat Parade on Sunday, June 5, with crafts before the parade to create a charming chapeau or other take-aways.

You can celebrate Memorial Day at Devon as it follows the tradition of honoring our community heroes, including local military and emergency responders.

When you get hungry or thirsty, perk up with a stop at Reading Coffee Company, or visit the Devon Garden Café or Sips & Bits for snacks, grab-and-go plates and signature cocktails. The beloved burgers, hot dogs, pizza and fries are still available along Food Alley, plus traditional tea sandwiches from the Tea Cart.

As always, Clydesdale Corner serves beer, hard seltzer and cocktails, while the Wine Gazebo offers wine, beer and hard seltzer. New this year is online ordering from Carlino’s Market, where you can get tasty treats like a tempting charcuterie board to enjoy as you while the away the afternoon.

And of course there’s plenty of boutique shopping at the Country Fair. Want a new Devon souvenir? In addition to classic caps, tees and sweatshirts of years past, designer Julia Gash created iconic Devon scenes for specialty home goods (including platters, aprons and notebooks) and Kailey Smith has new Devon blue fashions. For the men, Bird Dog Bay Silks unveils a new trophy print for silk ties and bow ties.

Make family memories here this year.

Action in the Rings

Come to the Devon Horse Show to see world-class horsemanship in a wide variety of events, in addition to the breed show. Watch the Hunters and Jumpers, Saddlebreds and Hackneys, Sidesaddle and Lead Line. You’ll see Roadsters, Unicorns and Carriage Driving, too.

The Carriage Pleasure Drive on Sunday, May 29, starts at St. David’s Church cemetery grounds for preliminary judging, while spectators enjoy picnicking. There’s a chance to compete in the Spectator Picnic Contest before the carriages head out for their drive through Devon neighborhoods on their way to the Dixon Oval at the Horse Show grounds.

For the youngsters, there’s Junior Weekend at the opening of the show and the perennial favorite, the colorful, costumed Pony Hunt Club teams. And of course, the munchkins in the Lead Line are a highlight, where adorable kiddos in the under-3 and under-5 groups are led around the Dixon Oval for their moment in the main ring. Ribbons are awarded, but everyone gets a Devon-blue lollypop.

Our canine friends get their time in the spotlight on Thursday, May 26, for the Dog Show in the Dixon Oval. Watch the Walk-trot, Jumper and Tricks classes along with the Lead Line costume contest parade.

For those interested in the behind-the-scenes look at things, the free Back Barn Tours return on Tuesday, May 31, so you can get an up-close and personal look at these equestrian athletes.

The excitement mounts with the Devon Arena Eventing contest on May 29, with action spanning the Dixon Oval and Wheeler Ring, over a course with 30 show jumps as riders compete for the $50,000 prize. Earlier in the show, a fast paced relay race, the Mounted Games, features the skills and teamwork of younger riders, while Junior Jumpers take to the ring on Friday night, May 27, clearing 4’6″ jumps.

And the highlight each year is the spectacular Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon, Thursday, June 2, featuring some of the best-known riders. Thrill to equine athletes carrying their riders gracefully over towering jumps to win the $250,000 purse. Reserve you seats early for this sold-out night.

There’s plenty of action in the Dixon Oval, Wheeler Ring and behind the scenes for days of thrills at the Devon Horse Show.

And More …

First Night at Devon is another tradition that’s highly anticipated — the kick-off to the Horse Show and Country Fair. This festive evening on Wednesday, May 25, before the show’s official opening, features an elegant cocktail reception for about 200 guests as well as artists with works on display at the Devon Art Gallery. Friends of art, horsemanship and philanthropy mingle at this fundraiser as they preview and purchase original art on display, including the official 2022 poster, created by Elise Phillips. Tickets are $125.

Stop in throughout the run of the show to see the two-room cottage that’s home to the Devon Art Gallery. Art created by 50 new and returning artists covers the walls in this unique juried show. You’ll find horses, landscapes and delightful works on display. Visit in person and virtually to choose a piece and add a red dot to claim as your own.

Another highlight of the show is Ladies Day, Wednesday, June 1, when guests enjoy live music, an elegant reception and the highly anticipated Hat Contests. Local and celebrity judges pick the best hats in five categories, including Plume of the Day. This year’s theme is “Feathers and Frocks,” so plan your outfit accordingly! Tickets are required for some events, including the catered lunch at the Devon Club.

Want to win a Devon Blue Ribbon, no horse required? You do need a Devon box, though, to enter the Grandest of the Grandstands competition on Friday, June 3. Bring your finest food, flowers, props and dress to the nines to create your own theme for your Devon box and join in the fun. Best Food and Best Theme awards await those in single and group/sky boxes.

And finally, the Plant Sale marks the closing of the show to find new homes for the lovely plants and flowers that have adorned the grounds. It’s scheduled for around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 5.

Until next year!

If You Go

What: The Devon Horse Show & Country Fair

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

When: May 26–June 5; 8 a.m. to around 10 p.m.

Information: and Facebook

Beneficiary: Bryn Mawr Hospital

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