Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic

Between competitors, trainers and an expected 5,000 spectators, the annual Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic is expected to bring $3.4 million in economic impact to the Chagrin Valley, according to event organizers. 

When the Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic comes to town in July, it will bring more than just horses. The annual equestrian event is sure to deliver a financial impact to the valley communities with additional revenue, jobs, promotion and more.

The classic brings an estimated 5,000 spectators with a $3.4 million economic impact, organizers said.

This year, the 10-day classic begins on July 4 at the Cleveland Metroparks Polo Field in Moreland Hills. This horse show is the home of North America’s first grand prix launched in 1965. More than 50 years later, the show still has a major effect including increasing the prestige of the Chagrin Valley.

“The horse show put Moreland Hills on the international equestrian map,” said Betty Weibel, a lifelong equestrian and principal at Yopko Penhallurick, LLC. “It has a name and a reputation for quality and prestige.”

Ms. Weibel said that the horse show benefits nonprofits in one of two ways every year: through a direct donation from the Chagrin Valley Professional Horsemen’s Association or through partnerships to use the horse show’s venue, the Polo Field.

One of the most popular events of the horse show, the Horse and Hound Relay, will directly benefit the Geauga Humane Society’s Rescue Village. On July 5, while pairs of dogs and horses compete for the best time while jumping over obstacles, the spectators can sit back, relax and help support their furry friends at Rescue Village in Russell Township.

Director for Development for Rescue Village Becca McNish said that the nonprofit is using the horse show as its venue for the Bits and Leashes Bash, which includes a buffet dinner and cocktails for a ticket price of $75. Those who attend the fundraiser can take part in a Calcutta-style auction and bet on the winning horse and hound team, perhaps even winning a cash prize or a vacation trip. Funds raised go to the food and medical care costs for animals that are part of Billie’s Barn, Rescue Village’s farm animal recovery program.

“In 2018, we had more horses than ever in our history. It is more important now than ever that people know about our barn program,” Ms. McNish said.

Ms. Weibel said that the horse show has funded more than $500,000 in improvements to the Polo Field. The hunter jumper organization began to invest in the venue after making the Cleveland Metroparks’ Polo Field its permanent home in 1996. The Chagrin River tributaries flooded during heavy rains ruining the venue during several past shows. This prompted horse show officials to add limestone footing in one of the rings for $60,000 so horses would not get stuck in the mud. Other improvements include landscaping, drainage updates, a water pipeline, rings and fencing, box seat roofing, the announcer’s stand and the pavilion, Ms. Weibel said.

The $3.4 million economic impact figure, according to Ms. Weibel, comes from a formula that measures the number of registered horses, the number of expected attendees and the length of the event. The figure includes money spent on hotels, shopping and restaurant visits.

Visitors typically stay in hotels in Beachwood, Solon, Macedonia and other areas close to Moreland Hills, she said, with some preferring campsites like Punderson State Park in Newbury Township. Many visitors head to downtown Cleveland for museums and other tourist sites, she said, while others opt for shopping at boutiques or eating at restaurants in Chagrin Falls and other Chagrin Valley locations.

“People enjoy seeing the area and they plan their vacation around coming to Ohio,” she said.

Ms. Weibel said the 10-day horse show creates temporary jobs such as horse show manager, ring crew, announcers, secretaries, office staff, judges and car-parking services. She said that more than $50,000 is paid in wages for jobs directly linked to the classic.

This year, the classic is partnering with the Moreland Hills Historical Society to lead a book talk on July 10 with Ms. Weibel on her book titled “Cleveland Grand Prix: An American Show Jumping First.” By partnering with the historical society, the show officials hope to encourage its attendees to check out the President James A. Garfield Birth Site Park in Moreland Hills.

“Areas with green space and horse farms add an impressive quality of life and benefits real estate values,” Ms. Weibel said. “This is an attractive residential area and that adds to the value of the community as well as having a major sport and tourism event in their backyard at the Polo Field.”

The Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic runs July 4-14 at the Cleveland Metroparks Polo Field at the intersection of Route 87 and Chagrin River Road in Moreland Hills.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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