MORELAND HILLS — The Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic opens on Independence Day and show manager Phil DeVita said he plans to make the 55th event another top-notch show.
“It’s still considered a very big stop on the grand prix circuit,” said Mr. DeVita, who has years of experience in riding, training, judging, course design and show management.
The show at the Cleveland Metroparks Polo Field today (July 4) through July 14 features a number of events including the International Hunter Derby on July 13 which draws competitors worldwide.
Part of the reason that the Chagrin classic retains its prominence is local residents who are knowledgeable about horses, Mr. DeVita said.
“We’ve had good, strong, local support,” he said. “The equestrian community in this area has always been very supportive and very positive about this event.”
Mr. DeVita said that many horse shows have become more monopolized and commercialized than the one in the Chagrin Valley. As a result, those larger shows may put smaller events out of business. He is confident that the classic will remain popular due to the interest of area residents that gather in large crowds, especially for the international hunter derby and the grand prix.
The number of equestrian businesses and farms in Hunting Valley, Bainbridge, Auburn and other valley communities reflect the interest and understanding that people here have of this industry, he said.
“I manage shows all over the country and this is such a unique and special place to come, with the trees, the field and the people,” he said.
The classic’s status as a committee run boutique charity horse show – an event not owned by a corporation – also makes the classic unique, he said. Boutique shows tend to take place in historical settings to support local equestrians, he said. The classic is also a charity show, so admission revenues and donations are tax-deductible, he added.
Mr. DeVita is no stranger to the classic having competed here in the 1960s. The second generation horseman began competing as a teenager and then moved on to training, judging and course design over the next 25 years.
He has worked closely with his father, Phil DeVita Sr., who won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the United States Hunter Jumper Association in 2018.
As the show manager, he oversees the set-up, facilities and operations of the classic. The week before the show, crews begin stringing lights and putting up frame structures for tents where nearly 600 stalls are set up, Mr. DeVita said.
In addition, Mr. DeVita said that his team has put down 75 tons of a special type of sand in the rings to keep the footing in the rings solid when it rains. A trailer arrived the week before the show to drop off materials for the jumps and wooden fencing for the rings from Chagrin Valley Farms. The vendors set up earlier this week, creating a boutique environment at the horse show.
“We will be the entertainment center of Chagrin Falls for the next couple weeks,” he said.