Summer Memories: Looking Back on the Best of the Vermont Summer Festival

Ashley Foster and Amon De Diamante. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

BY LINDSAY BROCK

Revered as a top choice for horse showing in the Northeast during the warmer months, the Vermont Summer Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018, and has long been recognized as a place to develop young horses and give up-and-coming-riders an opportunity to make their mark. While competition organizers remained hopeful that the event could take place as planned this year, continued restrictions surrounding health, safety, and travel have forced the cancelation of the 2020 Vermont Summer Festival.

Bromley Mountain. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

As a tribute, we caught up with several familiar faces to learn more about their favorite memories of showing in Vermont.

Dotty and John Ammerman. Photo © David Mullinix

John Ammerman

Vermont Summer Festival Manager

“One of my favorite memories of the Vermont Summer Festival goes all the way back to its beginning. The show was split between two locations. We would start in Manchester for a few weeks and then make an overnight move to Waitsfield and continue showing. I think I contracted basically every tractor trailer in the state of Vermont to help with the move. They showed up and we literally broke down the show, loaded it all on the trucks, hauled it the 100 miles to Waitsfield, set it back up, and started showing again. It all happened in matter of hours, not weeks or days. It was quite the operation!”

Amy Momrow and G. Eleven. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Monty Kelly and Amy Momrow

Trainers at Stepping Stone Farm based in Albany, NY

“When we look back on our time at the Vermont Summer Festival, what stands out is that the show allows us to bring all levels, from cross rails to grand prix horses, and luckily everyone has a great feeling there; whatever level you are competing at, the show makes you feel special. We have had so much fun in that area over the years. Our clients and their families use the show as a vacation spot for the summer.”
– Monty Kelly

“Winning back-to-back hunter derbies last year!”
– Amy Momrow, winner of the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Eastern Hay, during weeks three and four riding G. Eleven

Sam Schaefer

Rider and trainer at Shadow Ridge Farm based in Westminster, MD

“I remember the Vermont Summer Festival for its friendly staff and professionally run show. One memory in particular that stands out is the weekly exhibitor parties. Bromley Mountain was always the party that I looked forward to the most. As a kid, I would always love racing down the slides and spending time with my friends there.”

Andrew Ryback

Official photography of the Vermont Summer Festival

“I remember the first time I heard a train approaching the show grounds, I rushed out of our trailer with a camera and tried to get a cool shot with a horse. I still do that every time!  Vermont is a special place for me because portrait sessions there are like nowhere else, and I love spending the time with clients after the show while capturing beautiful shots for them!”

Kim and Samantha Perlman. Photo © David Mullinix Photography

Kim Perlman

Trainer at Riverstone Equine based in Central Valley, NY

“One of my favorite memories from the Vermont Summer Festival is when Billy Glass stole a meditating frog from our always elaborate barn setup and placed it on a pole overlooking the hunter ring. It made its way throughout the entire showgrounds that summer. He never admitted it was him, but I know it was!

Another memory comes from years ago when Jay and Dee Matter placed a large sign in front of their barn at the end of the season that simply read, ‘Buy two chestnuts, get the third for free!’”

Patty Foster, Ashley Foster, and Marylisa Leffler. Photo © Jump Media Photography

Patty Foster

Trainer at Rolling Acres Show Stables based in Brookeville, MD

“In 2018, my daughter Ashley was going clean in the final grand prix of the season and had two more jumps left. She left a stride out, fell off, and dislocated her shoulder. My sister, Marylisa Leffler, still had to go, but Ashley wouldn’t let my husband take her to the clinic until after Marylisa went. She was clear, won, and we all went to the clinic together.”

John Ammerman & Billy Glass. Photo courtesy of Billy Glass

Billy Glass

Former Vermont Summer Festival technical coordinator

“Vermont is where I grew my career. I remember in the beginning, nearly 30 years ago, we started with only 200 stalls and two competition rings. That grew to 1,200 stalls and five competition rings at the event’s permanent home in East Dorset.

I also enjoy looking back on ‘Equitation Tuesdays.’ It was created as a vehicle for equitation riders to get additional mileage and ultimately qualify for finals. We’ve always seen two things in the equitation rings at Vermont: big numbers and high-level competition. A fifth-place ribbon there is often times a winning round at other shows!”

Have a Vermont Summer Festival memory you’d like to share? Send it to info@vt-summerfestival.com for a chance to be featured on the Vermont Summer Festival Facebook page. Want to find out more about the Vermont Summer Festival? Visit www.vt-summerfestival.com, or find it on Facebook and Instagram.