Friday, April 26 2024 9:50

The Devon Horse Show Is Better Than Ever!

Written by Laurel Anderson
Photos by Brenda Carpenter

It's now 12 days, and the Clydesdales are back.

Yes, the recent eclipse was great (well 90% great), but the spring equestrian season returns every year to the Brandywine Valley and delivers 100% fun, culminating at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. This grand tradition lives up to its historic 128 years of history, bringing top horses and riders, generations of fans and volunteers, along with reasons to shop, dine, mingle and marvel during 12 days and nights at the Devon blue Horse Show grounds — May 22 through June 2.

Add to the mix the high-stepping Budweiser Clydesdales circling the Dixon Oval on May 30 and June 1, and there’s no better place to be.

Make a Plan

What to do at the Devon Horse Show and County Fair? Let us help you plan.

Veteran showgoers already have favorite events, shops and food. Many families visit for kid-friendly events and special treats, those who like elaborate hats have Ladies Day and a hat contest, and hardcore equestrian fans have 12 days of events to choose from (see the schedule in this article).

Come for the breed classes, hunters, jumpers and arena eventing, plus coaching, pony races, horns and hounds. See saddlebred horses and sidesaddle riding. Enjoy Olympic-caliber jumping at the Sapphire Grand Prix ($226,000 prize money) and 3-year-old munchkins in the Lead Line (lollipops for all).

Fun outside the ring includes shopping for antiques, accessories, souvenirs and even art. Dining options run from pizza to tea sandwiches, plus lemon sticks and Devon fudge from a time-honored recipe.

So, what to do?

Family Days

Devon and family fun go together, welcoming babes in arms and in strollers, cliques of teens and pairs of parents, plus grandparents. That’s just one reason generations have filled the stands and the Country Fair grounds, watching riders from 3 to teens (in the Junior classes).

Here are a few ideas to help plan your visit.

  • Family Days: Thursday, May 23, Tuesday, May 28, and Sunday, June 2 are designated Family Days with special prices on souvenirs, food and rides.
  • Midway: The towering Ferris wheel, antique carousel and other rides add to the midway fun, where little ones can let off steam and everyone can stretch their legs.
  • Dog Show: On May 23, canines compete in four classes, including Jumpers and the popular Lead Line Costume Parade. Bring your best friend.
  • Pony Hunters: Colorful costumed teams of three youngsters go through their paces in the Wheeler Ring on Friday and Saturday, May 24 & 25.
  • Lead Line: Future stars shine as kiddos ages 5 and under are led around the Dixon Oval, on Saturday, May 25. Pigtails and proud parents abound.
  • Itty Bitty Tea Party: Fun, food and tea party treats for youngsters at the Devon Club on Sunday, May 26, 10:30, noon, 2:30 ($35).
  • Shetland Pony Steeplechase: Stay on May 26 to see the pint-sized jockeys speed around the Dixon Oval on ponies. They’re back on Monday.
  • Crafts & Hat Parade: On the final Sunday, June 2, see a pint-sized hat parade, as kiddos show off their work with feathers, glitter, beads and smiles.

Action in the Ring

There’s plenty of action in the Dixon Oval and Wheeler Ring during the 12 days of the Devon Horse Show (see the schedule for details, dates, times). Choose your preferred equestrian excitement. Some suggestions.

  • Arena Eventing: On the first Sunday night, May 26, watch a breathtaking, 30-jump race of precision and stamina spanning two rings for major prize money.
  • Show Jumping: Jumping is woven through the events — from Junior Jumpers, Pony Jumpers and Amateur Jumpers to events with big prizes, including the Idle Dice Jumper Stake on June 1 and Grand Prix.
  • Sapphire Grand Prix: The big event ($226,000), when world-class riders and their equine partners perform under the bright lights before an appreciative crowd, on Thursday, May 30. This event, where horse and rider clear a series of 5-foot-plus jumps, sells out, so reserve tickets early.
  • Pleasure Drive: Antique carriages parade through local neighborhoods, starting in the picturesque St. David’s Church grounds and ending in the Dixon Oval. See everything from simple one-horse carts to grand four-in-hand teams, decked out in period dress.
  • Hackneys & Saddlebreds: Learn something new. Marvel at the elegant high-stepping hackneys as they pull carriages and the American-bred saddlebreds topped with riders wearing eye-catching long-tailed coats.

Shopping, Dining, Competing

At some point, you’ll want to eat, drink and shop. And there are choices galore. Walk the gravel paths beneath the sycamores as you sniff brewing coffee and sizzling burgers, and browse the shops in the white clapboard cottages.

  • Traditional Fare: From the days when tea and tiny sandwiches were served, some foods live on. And tea sandwiches top that list, followed closely by lemon sticks, Devon fudge and so much more at the candy booth. Try them all.
  • 2024 Options: Beyond tempting fast food options, the Garden Café offers healthier fare. Sips & Bits has espresso, specialty egg rolls from Madi’s on a Roll, and delectable bites from Di Bruno Bros.
  • Clydesdale Corner: Food, drink, entertainment and good cheer are in bountiful supply inside and on the patio. Enjoy musical performers as you sip and support sponsors Penn Beer and Tito’s.
  • Devon Club: Reserve a table for VIP treatment (gourmet buffet and open top-shelf bar) plus great views of the action in the rings.
  • Grandest of the Grandstands: Create your own theme for this competition among single box and group/sky box owners, showcasing food, flowers, fancy dress and props. Judging on Friday, May 31.
  • Carriage Pleasure Drive Spectator Picnic: Prepare a picture-perfect picnic under the pine trees at St. David’s Church Cemetery in Wayne to watch the start of the Pleasure Drive on May 26. Or just come for the pageantry of antique carriages from another time.
  • Souvenir Shopping: In addition to the many specialty shops, the souvenir booth at the entrance to the Country Fair is a must-shop stop. It’s where you’ll find clothing, décor and jewelry emblazoned with the Devon logo. New this year are offerings from Addison Bay, Johnnie-O, Rustic Marlin and Cabana Life. Bet you can find something in Devon blue!

Ladies Hat Day

Dating back to the 1900s, this special event has grown to attract increasingly glamorous and fanciful hats, judged by a panel that includes a few surprise celebs. Enjoy champagne, colorful hats, goodie bags and good times all around, with the theme “J’adore Devon.” A ticketed lunch follows at the Devon Club.


First Night and the Art Gallery at Devon

This festive fundraising party, with open bar and gourmet fare, kicks off the Horse Show and the opening of the Art Gallery on May 22. Guests get a first look at art for sale, a chance to mingle with the artists and a preview of this year’s Horse Show poster, art by Ellen A. Gavin (also a winner in 2020). Can’t make First Night? The Art Gallery is open throughout the Horse Show, along with a Virtual Gallery online.


What: The Devon Horse Show & Country Fair

Where: Dorset Rd. & Lancaster Ave., Devon

When: May 22 to June 2, 2024; gates open at 8 a.m., close around 10 p.m.

Information & Tickets:, 610-688-2554 and social media

Beneficiary: Bryn Mawr Hospital

Stream: USEF Network and ESPN

View the schedule of events here.

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