Another Year Has Come and Gone for Fair Hill International
Fair Hill International 2017 has come and gone. It was another amazing year, though to be honest not as amazing as past years. It has been a rough year for me personally, and that coupled with some major changes in the structure of our leadership, the event brought extra stress. But the event still delivered smiles, laughter and plenty of good moments.
The Bad First?
For anyone who has never participated in the production of a large event you may not realize how many volunteers it takes to put something on as large as Fair Hill’s fall event. It literally takes a small army from start to finish to plan, set up, run the event, clean up afterwards, and then make improvements for next year.
Why are Fair Hill’s volunteers such amazing people? Because we do it for the love of our sport, and for our volunteer family, not for a paycheck. Getting volunteers is hard. Getting volunteers is hard. Keeping good volunteers is even harder, Click To Tweet and sadly this year, I heard a number of good volunteers say they may not return to help with our 2018 event. We are a family, the #FHIFamily, and hearing these people I love and look up to say they don’t feel appreciated is really saddening.
You Are Appreciated!
You are appreciated! And loved by so many. And I am not beyond begging you to stay! With our approval for the CCI4 Star on the horizon, and being our 30th anniversary, 2018 is set to be a truly special year at Fair Hill. One that will be full of changes, good and bad, exciting and sad. One thing this past year has taught me is that it is impossible to do it on your own. Yes! That is me, Meghan Bell, admitting that she too needs help to keep life on track. So I hope that these people return, for at least one more year, so we can celebrate 30 years, and go out with a bang before major changes happen.
Now for me to admit that I might have selfish intentions. Fair Hill needs you, and I need Fair Hill! It needs its #FHIFamily to keep going past 2018 and far into the future. Where is Kasey going to ride if we loose focus on the small things like starter trials and cross derby’s? Where will I take my young OTTBs schooling? Where will I send students to learn from the greats? I’m not sure about anyone else, but I never run into Sally Cousins at the grocery store. I never run into Boyd Martin at a tack shop, but I do see them at Fair Hill, and get a friendly smile out of it, and a thank you for volunteering.
Time For The Good!
My family! Once a year, a group of amazing people come together, literally build a small city, and spend every waking extra moment they have running that small horse themed city. We recruited new family members, and took on two whole new tents this year. Fair Hill club was a success! And people really took to the new VIP entrance as an extra spot to ask questions and get a ticket to the event.
I had fun! Before, during and after the event. I love not only watching horses gallop, but feeling them. My tent, the VIP entrance, was located in a prime spot to watch, the CCI*** riders jump the blue covered bridge, and then gallop towards the horse shoe jump. Such power racing by, it was amazing.
The VIPs! Awards is fun and stressful. Those few minutes where you are trying to balance 10 plus horse and rider pairs and a dozen important presenters are high stress, but so worth it! Especially when someone like Tim Dutta tells you “another job well done”.
My suggestions, for next year, should anyone care to listen… Spend a few dollars and send your leadership to leadership training. I don’t care how many shows you have managed, or how far up the various ladders you have climbed, being about to talk to your volunteers and treat them like they are important team members, not just free help, will help not only Fair Hill remain the great place it is, but help it grow. It will help other competitions grow too, a lot of these officials travel all over the country.
Learn to delegate, talk to people and communicate. There were some changes this year that weren’t really necessary. There were also some decisions that were made that, while I’m sure they had good reasons to be made, were not discussed properly with the people they affected. Communication was so poor this year. Yes, there are a lot of volunteers, but communication between everyone is still very possible! A for volunteers only private Facebook group is my best suggestion, and maybe that can be coupled with email.
Fair Hill International, There Was a Competition Last Weekend
Fortunately, the issues that were had, were not really noticed by the competitors or the spectators. The competition was exciting, down to the last show jumping round! I will be back next year, hopefully in the same volunteer role, but definitely to at least watch! And maybe some day, I’ll get to pass my job on to a new younger volunteer, and sit my butt in the VIP tent!
Was hoping to see some pictures of the action? The Chronicle of the Horse has a great collection.