Welcome to Sussex County Horse Show
Horses have always been a big part of the Fair. Back in 1919, when horses were still more common than cars, the Branchville Riding Club formed. Since then, this event has evolved into the 10-day spectacular of the Sussex County Fair!
In fact, the Sussex County Fair was called the The Sussex County Horse Show from 1936 to 1940, and the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show from 1940 to 1999. The pairing between the Fair and the Horse Show started all the way back in 1923! The change of the name highlights the Fair’s commitment to more than just horses, emphasizing other agriculture, community and youth development, and family fun!
Today, the Horse Show continues to demonstrate the excellence and commitment of the community to these wonderful animals and this traditional event. The 2014 Horse Show includes hunters, jumpers, and more! Over 2,000 participants are registered this year, promising a great show!
Originally, the Sussex County riding club held a horse how for its members’ children. This horse show was so successful that it was held year after year! Admission was first charged in 1926, and only cost 25 cents.
The Great Depression slowed the horse show for a few years, but once the economy turned around, the horse show was back in style! As of 1933, the horse show included 51 participants; that number doubled by 1934. 1935 introduced the first “Queen of the Fair” competition, which took place during the horse show. In the same year, attendance exceeded a thousand visitors! By 1938, the Horse Show was larger than any other outdoor show in the East.
In 1940, the Fair and the Horse Show joined forces, expanding to three days. The popularity continued to grow over the years, bouncing back from World War II, hurricanes, and floods. By 1963, over 65,000 people attended.
All this growth meant that the Fair and Horse Show needed a bigger venue. The Fair moved to Augusta in 1976, where it remains today. The new venue experienced some setbacks—mostly related to how many people were eager to attend. As the new venue grew, it included permanent buildings, such as the Livestock Pavilion, Horse Show office, Snook Museum, and Shotwell 4-H building. The horse show put The Fairgrounds on the map in more ways than one!
Beautiful horses and dedicated riders perform annually at the Sussex County Horse Show, maintaining a tradition almost a century old!