Hundreds of guests will step into new shoes to attend an 80th birthday extravaganza next week. But instead of strapping on a pair of slingbacks, these guests will be sporting horseshoes.
The 80th annual Ox Ridge Horse Show kicks off Tuesday, June 15, and will continue through Sunday, June 20. Thousands two-legged spectators, as well as two- and four-legged participants, will make their way to town for the event, which culminates next Sunday with the $25,000 Ox Ridge Grand Prix.
"Fifty-four horses live on the property," said Flavia Callari, the head of the club's horse show committee. "And 300 will be renting stalls, with another 200 shipping in during the day." In total, Callari said she hopes at least 1,500 horses will come to the 37-acre club grounds.
The club is converting one of its training rings into stalls to house the visiting horses. Employees have also been working all week to set up several other rings on the polo field and other areas of the property. When all is said and done, the facility will be able to support various activities at once, and provide seating for a sea of spectators.
"It's almost like an old-fashioned country fair," Callari said. Vendors from around the region will sell items like custom cowboy boots, saddles, horse feed and other non-horse related items. Other vendors, like Uncle's Deli, will sell food for those who come to watch the events.
And while the show is a high-caliber equestrian event, it's also a great way to spend a day -- even if you don't know the difference between a canter and a gallop.
"This is a great family outing," Callari said. "It's an opportunity to see show competition at its best."
The Ox Ridge Horse show is an "AA" show, which is the highest-rated show offered by the American Horse show Association rules. Its Grand Prix, which will take place on Father's Day, is also recognized by the United States Equestrian Team. Riders who place in the show will earn points based on their ranking; their points accumulate throughout showing season. Point tallies at the end of the season determine regional and national awards; points form the Grand Prix determine placement on the U.S. Equestrian Team.
"It's just a great outing, and it brings a lot of money into the community," she said.
While this is the show's 80th anniversary, the first show actually took place 84 years ago. But there have been a few years throughout the club's history that the show did not take place. Such was the case in 2005, when financial problems, routinely bad weather and competition from nearby shows led to the cancellation of the 76th annual show.
But recent changes in management have helped the Club -- and the Show -- get back on its feet.
"We have a new general manager now, Alan Griffin," Callari said. "We call him the phoenix. He's started the show again, and brought it back from the ashes."