Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show celebrates its 90th Anniversary in 2013
The Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show began ninety years ago bringing equine enthusiasts and their families to the quaint village of Blowing Rock, North Carolina every August for a week of competition and camaraderie. Originally the event lasted for five days, but over the years it has grown to cover a period of three weeks. The show is held at the L.M. Tate Show Grounds in J.E. Broyhill Park. Steeped in tradition, this event has consistently attracted annual exhibitors from all over the United States and several foreign countries and has the distinction of being recognized as the oldest continuous outdoor horse show in America.
Throughout the years, as its name suggests, proceeds from the show have been used to support local organizations including the Blowing Rock Fire Department, the Blowing Rock Rescue Squad, and the Watauga County Humane Society. In addition, funding has been provided to assist Blazing Saddles, a dedicated volunteer-based organization that provides therapeutic riding for the handicapped. We also support the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.
As a result of the decades long partnership with the Blue Ridge Parkway and its Foundation, the horse show continues its commitment to the preservation and maintenance of riding trails in the Moses H. Cone National Park, which adjoins the horse show grounds. Throughout the year, literally, thousands of North Carolinians bring their horses to the Cone Park to enjoy its beautiful trails. Consequently, this volume of traffic has put pressure on our aging facilities.
In 1999, the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show Foundation, Inc. was established and received 501(c)3 not-for-profit organizational status from the Internal Revenue Service. The foundation was begun to provide a vehicle for long-term growth, plus continue the mission to support local non-profit emergency healthcare services in the area and to promote equestrian sports, education and recreation in the North Carolina Mountains. The annual Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show serves as the primary fundraiser for these activities.
Over the years, the horse show has become a significant annual generator of economic activity for both Blowing Rock and Watauga County. An economic impact study conducted by Nicole Jelley at Appalachian State University in 2012 concluded that the three-week event generated over $7.7 million dollars in revenue to the area.
Recently the Foundation Board boldly determined to embark upon its first major capital campaign called, “Building on a Tradition.” This campaign will allow the organization to expand its philanthropic outreach and broaden its annual operations while continuing its rich equestrian traditions. A campaign goal of $2.75 million dollars has been set, which began in 2005.
One of the campaign initiatives is to strengthen the partnership with Blazing Saddles, expanding their programs of therapeutic horseback riding for the handicapped by providing this organization with a permanent and adequate home. Another goal is to develop and offer new educational and recreational programs for children and adults, including some opportunities for the growing senior citizen population and the disabled. Working closely with regional school systems to introduce and promote equestrian activities is also an objective.
The current facilities must be improved; thus a new “master plan” has been developed. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire adjacent land has presented itself. This purchase would help assure a long-term future for the growth and expansion of both current and new programs. Additionally, the board intends to continue its commitment to the growing needs of local non-profit emergency healthcare services as well as maintaining its roles as an important economic force in the North Carolina “High Country.”
As the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2013, the Foundation Board of Directors is excited about the future and is ready to face these new challenges and opportunities. As we move forward with these ambitious and exciting dreams, we invite you to join us and consider a three-year commitment. Your participation will continue our effort “Building On a Tradition.”
Blowing Rock Equestrian Preserve is Owned and Operated by the Blowing Rock Charity Horseshow Foundation,