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Fair Hill gets funding for international equestrian event

The Board of Public Works on Wednesday unanimously approved $1 million for improvements to the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area, which is to be the new host of an annual international event of horse jumping, cross country and dressage.

The upgrades to the state park’s facilities — to be phased in over the next few years — “are essential for the site to host major equine events and other recreational opportunities, and necessary for Maryland to maintain its unique status as an equestrian epicenter,” the Department of Natural Resources said on its website.

In 2017, the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s board of directors chose the Cecil County site over a competing venue in Virginia to permanently host the event. Maryland Sports, which seeks to draw large sporting events to the state, said at the time that the competition, over several days, could bring an estimated economic impact to the state of $20 million to $30 million per year.

The event will either be called a “four-star” or a “five-star,” depending on a pending decision by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, which is assessing its star system for such events. The dates for the competition remain uncertain.

Another $1 million in private funding is being pledged through the Fair Hill Foundation, according to DNR’s release.

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