When you think of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, what immediately comes to mind, in addition to the world-class equestrian competition, is the popular Devon Country Fair.
Year in and year out, thousands of families have wandered through the pathways lined with age old trees that provide a beautiful, shady canopy and a gorgeous backdrop for the Country Fair. The fair features fun for the entire family, from the raucous midway filled with rides, irresistible food and games of skill for family members of all ages, to the more serene part of the fair that showcases outstanding shopping opportunities, delicious gourmet meals and of course, the world-famous Devon fudge.
Devon Horse Show Country Fair
The hard work and planning for the Devon Country Fair begins in January, and by the beginning of May, all of the food has been ordered, menus have been tweaked and thousands of souvenirs have been ordered. The week before opening, the grounds come alive, and the first order of business for the volunteers and Chairs is to get the booths in tip-top shape and organized for the huge crowds that will soon be descending in waves for this year's event. The Devon Country Fair is a well orchestrated event that would not happen without so many community volunteers and commitment from their Chairs.
And in reality, the Devon Country Fair is so much more.
It is the philanthropic arm of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, Inc. The fair is organized and run by the approximately 2,000 volunteers that put in hundreds of hours working under the guidance of more than 100 Chairs who man the many booths that are scattered over the Country Fair. Over the past 119 years, the hard work has really paid off, with all the proceeds benefitting the Bryn Mawr Hospital. Over the years, over $47 million has been donated to the hospital, including last year's record donation that exceeded half a million dollars. The $500,000 given last year was the second installment of a five year, $2 million pledge to Bryn Mawr Hospital's Capital Campaign to build a state of the art medical facility. The pledge by the Devon Country Fair provides the fair with naming rights to the new ICU.
It is a hand-in-hand collaborative effort with the Devon Horse Show. Speaking of the horse show, on Tuesdays, from 3-6 p.m., the Country Fair provides free guided tours of the stable area, so that spectators have an opportunity to learn about the various activities that go on behind the grandstands. Whether it is a look in the newly renovated stabling, a visit with the farrier, veterinarian or the EMTs, or even a stop at the horse ambulance, it is a chance for the uninitiated to learn what goes on behind the scenes at a major equestrian production.
During the horse show, one of the best events at the Country Fair is Ladies Day, on Wednesday, June 1. This year's theme is silver and gold (bring on the bling!) to help commemorate the 120th anniversary of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. What used to be just a small homemade hat competition has morphed into a full-fledged hat contest extravaganza, sponsored again this year by Malvern Federal Bank, who will host a special VIP reception afterward. The contest now includes five categories and last year saw over 225 ladies turn out to be judged by celebrity judges such as Carson Kressley and even a well-known milliner from NYC. In addition, Ladies Day includes live entertainment, raffles and a reception in the picnic grove.
Ladies' Hat Day at the Country Fair
The Devon Country Fair has also two great raffles. The Devon Derby features chances to win several prizes including a two-year lease on the all new Jaguar F-Pace crossover. The unveiling of this new vehicle will take place in April. Michael Smythe, President and COO of Main Line Land Rover Jaguar has been an ardent supporter of Devon for many years.
"There are certain sporting venues that are uniquely special and Devon ranks right up near the top," said Smythe. "The crowd at Devon is highly desirable to any seller of luxury consumer products. While many of the events during the week enable the Devon crowd to enjoy a step back in time, the reality is that The Devon Country Fair continues to be extremely progressive in their commitment to deliver to families a one of a kind entertainment experience."
The other fun raffle is called "Operation Goldmine" and always features a distinctive piece of jewelry - this year a lovely sapphire and diamond necklace donated by Kellmer Jewelers. Chances for both raffles are available at the event and benefit Bryn Mawr Hospital.
The last day of the show is Children's Day. Free admission, with plenty of food specials and children's activities in the grove, highlight the day, sponsored by Main Line Parent.
The Country Fair organizes the always popular flower sale immediately after the last class. Flowers from the show rings and the grandstands are sold to the public at greatly reduced prices. Over the years, the savvy locals wait until the sale to shop for their annuals. Two family days, one on opening day and the other on Tuesday also offer great specials.
Devon Horse Show Souvenirs
Devon Country Fair Co-Chairs this year are Karin Maynard and Beth Wright. Maynard points out, that while volunteering at the fair is often a generational affair, with grandmothers, mothers and daughters and sons often working together, there is always room for more. "We always need more help," she smiled. "As the crowds grow, so does the workload on the volunteers. But, it's a fun job and it's for a very worthy cause. We invite anyone that would like to help at the fair this year, to join us at our party on Sunday, April 24th. We can give you all the info you need and with reps from every booth on hand, folks can find what works best for them. Plus, we have great food and refreshments and it's all free!" she said. "It's a great way to give back to the community. We actually have a couple that make the trip to Devon from California every year to give 11 days of their time!"
If you cannot make the April party and would still like to volunteer, you can do so online at: http://www.devonhorseshow.net/contact/volunteer/.
The Devon Horse Show and the Devon Country Fair, working hand in hand to bring the most enjoyable experience possible to everybody that attends.
For more information on the Devon Horse Show, visit the website at: http://www.devonhorseshow.net/
For the 2016 Prize List, check in at: http://www.devonhorseshow.net/exhibitors/exhibitors-info/