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Ahead of the WEG 2018: From nothing to organising the FEI World Equestrian Games™

Saturday, 06 January 2018
Ahead of the WEG 2018

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
An overview of the arenas at Tryon in October 2017. A lot will change during the next months. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

At the beginning of 2014, Tryon International Equestrian Centre was not even on the map. Fast forward to 2018, and they are about to host the FEI World Equestrian Games™ for seven disciplines in September.

The FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 were planned to be hosted by Bromont in Canada. However, at the end of July 2016, the FEI announced that Bromont was no longer an option due to financial issues and re-opened the bidding process. Already in August the same year – only one year after the first competition on the show ground – Tryon International Equestrian Center was working together with the United States Equestrian Federation on a bid to host the 2018 Games in North Carolina. And, at the end of 2016 it was final: In September 2018 Tryon will welcome thousands of athletes to compete for the World Championships medals.

When the Tryon Equestrian Partnership – consisting of Mark and Katherine Bellissimo, Roger and Jennifer Smith, Lisa Lourie, Howard and Gwen Dvorkin, Jennifer and Diana Mercer as well as Joe and Cindy Mitchell – purchased the land in 2014, it consisted of hills and forest. After moving tons and tons of land, engaging the whole community and making a very fast development they could host their first event in July 2015. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Katherine and Mark Bellissimo are two of the owners of Tryon International Equestrian Centre. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Even though there today are 12 functional arenas, a big indoor, a cross country course, several one-bedroom, three-bedroom and five-bedroom log cabins on the showground, boxes for 1 200 horses, restaurants and exhibitions the venue will change a lot during the next ten months. Not only will a new main arena with seating for 20 000 people be built, also new accommodations in different price ranges will be put up.

This all might sound like a mission impossible, but with an organising committee consisting of people used to thinking outside the box the promise is that the impossible will be made possible. 

“The special thing with these World Equestrian Games is that we are putting our reputation on the line, we are not an organising committee that is going to dispend after the games. This is a private organisation, we do this because we love the sport and we want people to leave here saying it was the best World Equestrian Games ever. From our perspective, it takes a lot of work and we have 15 months to do it on instead of five years… But, because we have such a great team we think we will be able to do it,” Mark Bellissimo says.


In our series 'Ahead of the WEG 2018', World of Showjumping will give our readers a preview and a look behind the scenes on the upcoming FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon.

Text and pictures © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson

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