International equestrian event near Newark moves closer to final approval

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State of Maryland photo.

An equestrian site near Newark could see an international event that could draw tens of thousands.

The US Equestrian Federation (USEF) Board of Directors approved the recommendation to allocate the designation of an additional United States event to Fair Hill International, across the state line from Newark. The event would be held in 2019.

The decision is subject to approval by an international equestrian organization, which will take up the recommendation this fall.

In January, the board of the U.S. group narrowed the list of five applicants to two and following that decision spent several months researching, meeting with committees and conducting additional site visits.

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The final contenders were Fair Hill International and Great Meadow International, The Plains, VA.

The recommendation for Fair Hill International will now go to the Fédération Equestre Internationale.

A multi-use venue is under development at the and features events, racing and steeplechase racing.

This is an effort between the Fair Hill Foundation, Maryland Horse Industry Board, Maryland Sports Commission and the Cecil County Government.Additional information regarding the new development plans for Fair Hill International are available atwww.fairhill4star.com.

William Sullivan, chairman of the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau said the event would have a sizable impact on the Newark area and called prospects for the four star event “exciting news.”

“A four-star event is the pinnacle of the sport of eventing. Eventing is often referred to as the triathlon of equestrian sport as it includes dressage, cross country and show jumping. There are only six four-star events in the world and currently just one in the United States – Rolex, which takes place in April in Kentucky.This is a truly international event and one of the tops in that sport.”

Sullivan said the State of Delaware Tourism Office and the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau worked closely with the Maryland Sports Commission in making the case for Fair Hill.

Newark is the largest city near the event and is home to a large number of hotel rooms.

“As work proceeds and the dates of the event in Fall 2019 are finalized, hotels will start booking guest rooms blocks and special events. The close proximity of hotels in the Newark areas ensures that they will be prime hotel guest room providers for the event. Newark Main Street, with the great selection of dining, shops, and bars will be a popular place for event attendees,” said Sullivan, the managing director of the Courtyard by Marriott University of Delaware. “GWCVB will work with Newark area businesses to ensure connection with the event planners and the many thousands of participants, guests, and attendees.”

Similar events have been known to attract 80,000 or more fans, the Cecil Whig reported, although officials emphasized attendance could be lower in a new location during the first year. The 80,000 figure would compare favorably to the current attendance at Dover’s two NASCAR weekends.

“I am very excited about the future of the 4* event at Fair Hill,” said Fair Hill International President Trish Gilbert earlier this year when the field of candidates for the event was narrowed to two “For 30 years our hardworking volunteers and board have come together to produce this popular event that draws support from our highest level national and international competitors. In partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, Sports Commission, and Horse Industry Board, we will be able to achieve our vision of promoting world class sport right here in Maryland.”

Cecil County Executive, Dr. Alan McCarthy, an equine veterinarian before holding elected office, said, “I am excited that the United States Equestrian Federation recommended Fair Hill for the 4* event. I’d like to thank the regional team that put together Fair Hill’s bid to attract this wonderful opportunity to Cecil County, and I look forward to working with the team to ensure a successful outcome.”

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