The rain held off just long enough at Howard Community College's 26th Annual Columbia Classic Grand Prix on Sept. 21 at Marama Farm in Clarksville, as world-class equestrians gathered to compete on a challenging course of obstacles, jumps, twists and turns under at-times threatening gray skies.
"We tried to push each event up a little bit, and literally, the day ended and the rain began," said HCC spokeswoman Jane Sharp. "We beat the rain."
The rain started in Clarksville around 3:30 p.m., but by then, several equestrians had taken the top spots in their competitions. Tracy Fenney, of Flower Mound, Texas, won her third-straight HCC Columbia Classic Grand Prix, taking home a $10,500 purse.
Frances Land, of Alpharetta, Ga., took second place and the $7,700 purse. Haley Schaufeld, of Leesburg, Va., took third and a $4,550 purse.
In the Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, Felicia Russell, also of Leesburg, placed first and won a $3,000 purse.
In the Child/Adult Jumper Classic, Ericka Caslin, of Parkville, took first place and a $750 purse.
This is the fifth year the Grand Prix has been held at Marama Farm, and this year's events included exhibitions, pony rides, live music, a pumpkin patch and plenty of vendors, Sharp said. For the first time, the Grand Prix also included a classic car show.
Sharp said it was too early for a full attendance count or a final tally on how much money was raised at the college's biggest fundraiser, but the Grand Prix was "well-attended," and "the grandstands were full." In the past, the event has raised in the range of $75,000 for the HCC Educational Foundation, a nonprofit that provides scholarships for nearly 250 HCC students.
"The Grand Prix is such a part of our culture," Sharp said. "It's our biggest fundraiser and the more money it raises, the more scholarships we can give. It's really become associated with that — with raising scholarship funds and drawing attention to our students. It's a wonderful event."