East Dorset, Vermont — Each year, the Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show and its participants are warmly welcomed into the Manchester community. A six-week equestrian show jumping competition, the Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show is held at Harold Beebe Farm on Route 7, just north of Manchester.
While competing at the horse show may be the primary draw for the more than 3,000 people who attend the Horse Show each week, it is the hospitality extended by the local community that keeps people coming back year after year. Playing a large role are the parties hosted each week at various local sites by horse show organizers, John and Dotty Ammerman. This year, Riley Rink, Barrows House, Bromley Thrill Zone and The Equinox Resort & Spa have provided the backdrop for the most memorable parties of the summer.
"The weekly parties that we host are a great opportunity to introduce our clients to the things that make this community special. We do feel very strongly that this event is more than just a horse show," said Ruth Lacey, Marketing Executive of the Vermont Summer Festival. "As the primary contact with the local business community, I am extremely gratified to see how warmly we are embraced each year."
For the past six years, The Equinox Resort & Spa, which is also the presenting sponsor of the $30,000 Mt. Equinox Grand Prix, has been the location of the final party of the Vermont Summer Festival. In fact, the daughter of Ted Darnall, President and Chief Operating Officer of HEI, the owner of The Equinox, is also a horse show participant, serving to further strengthen the partnership between the horse show and the largest hospitality facility in the Manchester area.
"The Horse Show is the highlight of the year for us, bringing new, happy, healthy people to the area each summer," noted Susan Wheeler, Spa Director of The Equinox Resort & Spa. "The Horse Show clientele enjoy eating and living well, and they are able to take advantage of the variety of wonderful hospitality venues that Manchester has to offer. The whole economy benefits – the horse show people have a lifestyle and they don’t give that up when they come to Manchester. Instead, they enjoy competing in a wonderful venue that is second to none balanced by the mountain setting, the fresh air, and the safety and cleanliness of the community.
"In the evenings when the horse show is over, the competitors take time to reflect on their day and are able to spend time with their families. I have noticed that many people competing at the Vermont Summer Festival treat their time in Manchester as their family vacation," continued Wheeler, who also competes in the amateur adult hunter division at the Vermont Summer Festival. "There is a high level of local participation as well. The horse show is another important cultural event that is happening in the community."
The largest horse show in New England, the Vermont Summer Festival is also the richest sporting event in the state of Vermont, awarding more than $750,000 in prize money annually. The economic impact on the Manchester area is also considerable, with an estimated average of $20 million spent locally on goods and services throughout the duration of the six-week competition.
The final week of the Vermont Summer Festival runs August 15 to 19 with featured events including Friday’s $10,000 BCBG Max Azria Open Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets at approximately 1 p.m., and Sunday’s grand finale, the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix at 2 p.m. Governor Jim Douglas will be in attendance, as he has been in the past, to present the awards to the Grand Prix winner.
Visit the Vermont Summer Festival website for more information.