HARRISBURG - Horse lovers are getting ready to gallop on over to the Farm Show Complex for 10 days of fun and excitement at one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious horse shows. The Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS) returns to Harrisburg for its 71st year and offers a little something for everyone.
Approximately 15,000 spectators are expected to attend this year’s equine extravaganza, with an additional 1 million viewers turning in online at eqsports.net to witness the best in the sport of hunters and jumpers. The heat is on and the competition is fierce among the 1,400 top junior and adult competitors who will be putting forth their best efforts to win national championships.
“It’s a family oriented event, with everything under one roof and men and women compete equally,” said Executive Director Susie Webb. For those who want to make a day of it, vendors will be on hand selling a variety of goods and a large selection of fare will be available to appeal to a wide range of tastes.
A special “Family Fun Day” is slated for Oct. 15 where kids and parents can take a tour to peek behind-the-scenes at what goes on during the PNHS. Attendees can also take part in a story hour featuring award-winning author Cynthia Sudor. During the event, children will have the opportunity to pet ponies, play arcade games, ride the horse carousel and interact with a variety of mascots.
For Christa Aufiero, who has been attending the event for 35 years, the show never seems to lose its luster. “I started bringing my granddaughter Sierra she was two years old and she would sit for all 10 days,” said Aufiero. Sierra, who is now 19 years old, went on to become the first youth ambassador for the PNHS, talking to 4-H clubs, pony clubs and other organizations to help promote the show.
In addition to showcasing the best competitors in the equine world, the PNHS also benefits charities. The Harrisburg Kiwanis Youth Foundation has received approximately $1.6 million from the show’s non-profit foundation, which also awards grants to a variety of other organizations, including horse rescues, therapeutic riding programs and local humane societies.
Aufiero, who owns a stable, said that she enjoys meeting people from all over the country from riders, to trainers, groomers and equine enthusiasts. She also looks forward to the shopping opportunities. “The entire concourse is loaded with shops where you can buy anything from jewelry, to accessories, crafts and of course horsey items. It’s like going to a mall with unique shops,” she said.
For many, the highlight of the PNHS is the $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National—a competition featuring several of the nation’s top jumping riders and horses. This year’s Grand Prix will be followed by the Ben Gallaher Country Music Finale. The Central Pennsylvania native recording artist, singer and songwriter lives in Nashville and will return to the area to perform a live concert in the main competition area at 9 p.m. on Saturday, October 22.
“With so many new and exciting additions to this year’s show schedule, our 2016 event is going to be truly spectacular and we urge everyone to buy their tickets now and come watch many of our nation’s top equestrians and be part of our historic show,” said Webb.
When you go:
Pennsylvania National Horse Show
October 13-22, 2016
Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center
2300 North Cameron St., Harrisburg
Junior Weekend: October 13-16: General admission $12, Students and senior citizens $7, family four-pack $30, children 10 and under free. Bring two non-perishable food items (preferably peanut butter) for a $5 discount at the door for the “Saddle Up Against Hunger” promotion to benefit the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
October 17-19: Free admission
October 20: “Pony Up for Pink,” with the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. All breast cancer survivors get free admission.
Adult Weekend: October 20-21: General admission: $15, Students and senior citizens $10, family four-pack $40, children 10 and under free
Grand Prix and Ben Gallaher Country Music Finale: General admission/students and senior citizens $25, upper-tier seating $40, reserved lower-tier seating $50, family four-pack general admission all ages $75, family four-pack reserved lower-tier seating $130, family four-pack, reserved upper-tier seating $175.
For a full schedule, hours and more, visit the website at: www.panational.org