By Julie Howard and Melissa Alaimo
As so many of you may not realize, Area 1 is slowly losing its venues due to expense, time and land issues. The rumor for the past few seasons was that this might happen to Huntington Farm which two years ago, celebrated its 50th year as a competition venue. Anyone who has competed in South Strafford, VT knows what a loss this would be with its big galloping cross country track, tricky stadium course which causes many a rail with the rolling terrain, and the perfectly placed sand dressage rings, nestled in the valley between the Green Mountains.
Thankfully, owner Ann Kitchel took her time and found the perfect buyer. Much to our delight, the new owner wanted to continue hosting events and didn’t miss a beat, keeping the long standing July and August dates on the USEA calendar, in addition to several schooling shows. The new owner, Skylar Clemens is an enthusiastic fan of eventing, and started to work on the vast property straight away. He cleared land, widened gallop lanes, worked on footing and began to build jumps. It warmed the hearts of even the coldest Vermont dwellers but being New Englanders, we knew he and his team couldn’t go it alone.
Enter our own gem of a photographer, Joan Davis of Flatlands Foto, who issued a proclamation that she would be donating 10% of her sales to Huntington to help their jump-building fundraiser. She encouraged everyone to follow her lead.
Fast forward an hour after the challenge was posted and a group of women in the Area 1 Adult Rider Program, Linnea Ackerman, Julie Howard, Katie Murphy, Missy Alaimo and Melissa Drye, heeded the call and a donation for a fence was sent immediately. While still talking about how
we could still help, a light bulb went off … why not ask the Area 1 Riders to meet the challenge as well?
Linnea Ackerman took the lead, using Facebook as a way to encourage any and all who wanted to contribute. Again, the call was answered almost immediately as riders were asked for a $20 donation, or whatever they felt comfortable giving. It turned out to be a successful approach! In the end, we raised enough money for three additional cross country fences, simply by putting out the word and soliciting the amount of a decent bottle of wine from as many riders as possible.
“Setting the standard at $20 took a lot of weight off shoulders and I think it’s what drove us to be able to pull in so much interest,” said Ackerman, who also set up a poll on Facebook so we could decide, as a group, what fences we would sponsor. We are proud to say, that this isn’t a one and done deal. What started as challenge by Joan, we will now look to sponsor a fence or two or even three at all of our venues over the next few years. In fact, there was left over funding, which was sent to our Area 1 ARP account to be used as the “seed” for future sponsoring.
Challenge Accepted! Go Area 1 Riders! Go Eventing!