The members tent at the top of the hill above show jumping. ~ photo by Holly Covey

The members tent at the top of the hill above show jumping. ~ photo by Holly Covey

It’s been a pattern for me now for the last decade. The smell of wet grass in the morning, the dark mornings and early dark evenings….the air changes to crisp instead of muggy….the geese begin to flock, the barn starlings are nearly gone, the farmer next door leaves the cornfield bare and yellow after harvesting. It is truly autumn, and that means Fair Hill International Three-Day event!

It is a huge, 99 percent volunteer undertaking up at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in the northern edge of Cecil County in Maryland. The big beautiful oak trees are still quite green but getting ready to turn color and bare themselves for winter. The grassy fields, thousands of acres of them, are ready for the pounding hooves of top class international event horses. It amazes me, and many others each year, how quiet fields and woods turn into a hustling maelstrom of horses, people, cars, tractors, tents, colorful jumps and arenas, and fun!

It is loads of fun to spectate and shop at the trade fair, but I think I get the most out of the experience while volunteering and watching the event take shape. Some of my favorite moments in helping to stage FHI come when I am out in a field almost alone, working on building a jump’s decor, and some trail riders come through and ask what we are doing and what is going on — and having them come back on cross-country day and enjoy the competition.

Fair Hill Doggie-cam

Fair Hill Doggie-cam

That’s the cool part of Fair Hill – the incredible diversity of horse people that enjoy the park, and appreciate what each other is into. Of course, the competition is pretty cool, too, and there will be a lot more posts as we get closer to the dates: October 16-20. The competition opens actually Wednesday morning with the jog at the main arena.

Thursday and Friday are dressage in the Main Arena for both the CCI** and CCI*** competitors and also they will hold the USEA Young Event Horse 4-year-old and 5-year-old championship competition; conformation judging, dressage, and the jumping tests are all held near the stabling and around Sawmill Field but tends to be moved around due to weather and footing. Saturday, of course, is cross-country day with the two-star division starting first in the morning and the three-star horses coming later on in the afternoon.

There are two very full divisions this year so there will be a lot of action. On Sunday, show jumping and awards ceremonies take place along with a lot of fun stuff that goes on in the Main Arena area for entertainment. If you need more info, here’s some Fair Hill links:

[Fair Hill International]   [Weather for Elkton, MD ]  [FHI Blog]   [FHI Facebook Course Map]

If you’re planning on attending, online ticket sales end Thursday (tomorrow) and after that you can buy tickets at the gate. Thursday is free admission this year.

Connor Husain on Piece of Hope win the CCI** at Fair Hill International. ~ photo by Holly Covey

Connor Husain on Piece of Hope win the CCI** at Fair Hill International. ~ photo by Holly Covey

And lastly, pack for the changeable weather this time of year in northeast Maryland – sturdy waterproof shoes or boots, a hat and sunscreen, and a slicker and umbrella! Yes, there have been years we have worn full weather gear in the morning, and shorts and t-shirts in the afternoon! 🙂

Holly
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