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Cecil County Life

Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill coming in October

Jun 02, 2021 12:13PM ● By Tricia Hoadley
By Marcella Peyre-Ferry
Contributing Writer

Known as a premier venue for all types of equestrian sports, the Fair Hill Natural Resources Area continues to offer the very best in facilities and competitions. Among the most popular and prestigious is the Fair Hill International three-day event.

For more than 30 years, the Fair Hill International has been host to the United States Equestrian Federation’s national championships with its three-star level event. That tradition continues in 2021 with the National Championship event as well as the Young Event Horse East Coast Championship running alongside the new Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill.

“We want people to think of it as a new event. The tradition that Fair Hill has brought here for 30 years has been unbelievable, but when you take it to a five star it will be a new and different presentation. If you want to see something that is really unique, we have that to offer here in Cecil County,” said Jeff Newman, head of the production team of Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill.

The new five-star takes the sport to its highest level, above Olympic-level competition. Scheduled for October 14 to 17, there is only one other 5 Star ranked event in the United States, and only seven in the world.

“It’s a really unique opportunity for Cecil County to host something that only happens in seven places in the world,” Newman said.

Newman works for the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland, a non-profit organization tasked with bringing major events to the state. In this case, they are working in cooperation with Fair Hill International to run the new five-star event.

Originally planned to make its debut last year, the inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Enthusiasm for the event has been building, with entries from all over the world expected to take on the new challenge.

Three-day eventing, also known as combined training, is the ultimate test of horse and rider. Originally developed as a test of cavalry skills, eventing is unusual in that men and women compete against one another on an equal basis even at the highest levels of the sport.

“If you don’t know eventing, it’s spectacular,” Newman said. “If you want to enjoy a great family event in the fall, seeing the best competition this is where you should be.”

The three phases of competition take horses from the ballet-like agility and grace of dressage to demanding stamina and speed galloping and jumping cross country, and then finishing with heart-stopping competition against the clock in stadium jumping.

To accommodate the new event, an all new special event zone has been constructed at Fair Hill, bringing all phases of the competition to the parcel near the newly renovated turf race course and grandstands. New dressage arenas and a stadium jumping arena are located on the racetrack infield for easy viewing.

The new cross country course is also contained in the same segment of the property. Created by internationally recognized course designer Ian Stark, the course will include up to 45 jumping challenges over a distance of nearly four miles, including a water obstacle and jump complex.

“It will have the most difficult obstacles because it’s the highest level of competition,” Newman explained. “They will be extremely challenging, and all have different themes to them to tie into what Maryland has to offer. It will be a pretty unique course.”

Kaitlyn McNerney, the event director, added, “Every day will be packed full of competition. We expect 175 competitors at all three levels.”

Spectators will find something interesting every day, starting with dressage on Thursday and Friday for both the three and five star competitions. The East Coast Championships for Young Event Horses, which combines dressage and jumping tests for four and five-year-old horses will be held those days as well.

Saturday brings the excitement of the cross-country phase. Visitors can opt for tailgating spots course side, or bring your chairs to walk out to the jumps for a close view. For those who want a great view of all the action from one centralized location, choose a seat at the main arena and watch live on the Jumbotron.

The main arena will be the focus on Sunday when the stadium-jumping finale decides the winners.

Throughout all four days there will be something for everyone with an extensive vendor village, expansive concession stands, interesting demonstrations and live entertainment that will be fun for all ages and interests.

“There will be something for everyone. It’s definitely a family event,” McNerney said. “Our goal is to attract from beyond the equestrian fans. We want to attract people that want to come out to a beautiful event on a beautiful fall weekend, to have something to do with their kids, have something to do with their significant other and spend a good time out in the country. We learned from the pandemic that there’s an eagerness to get out and enjoy the outdoors and do something fun. The Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill has that to offer.”

October 2021 will be the first edition of this annual event that will continue to grow for years to come.

“As a whole. we think we’re bringing something really special to the county, where everyone can be a part of it,” Newman said. “Hopefully it will be a stimulus for small businesses and all businesses in the area. There will be a great economic impact to the county with people coming here from all over.”

Further details on all aspects surrounding Maryland 5 Star at Fail Hill will be released online and through social media as they are confirmed. Ticket sales begin early summer. For more information, visit the website at

Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill announces $300,000 prize money for inaugural event

The Fair Hill Organizing Committee (FHOC), an affiliate of the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland (The Sport Corp.), announced that athletes and horses in the inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill (CCI5*-L) will be competing for $300,000 in prize money. Additionally, the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) Eventing National Championship (CCI3*-L), running in conjunction with the 5 Star, will award $25,000 in prize money. Both events, as well as the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Young Event Horse East Coast Championships, will take place this October 14 to 17 at the new Fair Hill Special Event Zone in Cecil County, Maryland.

Planning and developments for the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill continue to move forward.

The event will mark a new chapter for the State of Maryland’s rich horse and equestrian tradition. It will showcase four days of thrilling competition at the sport of Eventing’s highest-level across its three discipline’s, Dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

“It is great feeling having sporting events coming back in Maryland this year and welcoming spectators,” commented Terry Hasseltine, president of The Sport Corp. “The Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill will be one of the highlights during the fall giving people something to look forward to, and something new to experience. We are excited to showcase the new Fair Hill Special Event Zone for the first time and produce an event that our state can be proud of.”

For additional information and news from the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, visit or follow on social @maryland5star.

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