BY IZZY FEINSTEIN
This past Presidents’ Day weekend I had the amazing opportunity to be a spectator at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida alongside my best friend, Kaitlyn. Our first day at the show (ever!) we felt completely overwhelmed by the enormous show grounds, dozens of shops, and various rings. We didn’t know where to start!
Luckily, Team TPH members Liz Davoll and Piper Klemm alongside intern Annie Birmingham and the helpful staff at PBIEC helped us find our way. After learning the ropes from them and experiencing WEF for myself, I created this guide to help you become an expert WEF spectator before even setting foot on the show grounds.
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day. The days at WEF are long and hot, and there is very minimal shade when walking across the grounds. I recommend bringing an insulated, reusable water bottle with you to keep your water cool. For a cool snack you can visit the Meraki Juice Kitchen at the Farmstand for a smoothie or Harry’s Lemonade in Vendor Village for some of the best lemonade I have ever had!
- In addition to drinking lots of water, apply sunscreen regularly and stay in the shade when possible. Many of the rings have tents or permanent decks for spectators to stand or sit out of the sun. Bring sunglasses and/or a hat with you for additional protection.
- Keep a map of the show grounds with you at all times- it will come in handy. During our first day at the show Kaitlyn and I were asked to meet Team TPH members at the South Ring. Without our map we never would have made it. Maps of the horse show are available on the PBIEC website linked above, or at the show grounds.
- Carry a backpack with you instead of a purse or crossbody bag. You will be exhausted from walking at the end of the day and will be much happier with the weight of your items evenly distributed on your back instead of on one shoulder.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. On our second day at WEF, Kaitlyn and I walked over seven miles. Although it may be tempting to wear flip-flops, you will be grateful you wore sneakers by the time you get back to your home or hotel. Show exhibitors tend to dress up for Saturday Night Lights events, so you can pack a pair of sandals or dressier shoes if you plan on staying.
- If there are specific riders or divisions you would like to watch, check the order of go on ShowGrounds Live through the PBIEC website. This will provide you with an estimated start time and order of go for each division so you can plan your day accordingly.
- Set aside spending money and keep cash on you, as not all retailers accept credit cards. Make sure to check out WEF shopping staples such as the WEF Souvenir Shop, Fab Finds by Sarah, and Hunt Ltd.
By using these tips to keep you cool, hydrated and knowing where you’re going – you’re sure to have an awesome experience watching top riders and horses at WEF!