Shanette Barth-Cohen is the executive director of the Hampton Classic. She discusses her involvement and what the famous horse show has in store this year.
How did you get involved in the Hampton Classic?
Well, this is my ninth year as executive director. In horse sports I was a kid who rode and competed here at the Hampton Classic and at a lot of other horse shows. Professionally, I worked at the U.S. Equestrian Federation, and I was the director of marketing development there. Then I started my own business and I did event planning and event marketing. When Tony Hitchcock and Jill Lindgren – a husband and wife team who were the executive directors for the first 30 years of the show – decided to retire from here, I pursued the position, and ended up getting the job and I love it.
What can someone expect from this year’s competitions?
A lot of things are the same from year to year: We have 1,600 horses, six different competition rings and competitions with kids as young as two-years-old being led around by a grown-up, all the way up to our Grand Prix-level competition, which includes Olympic medalists, World Cup winners and a lot of top national and international riders. There’s a lot of different competition that goes on throughout the week and there’s really something for everyone.
What other activities take place throughout the day?
In addition to the horse showing, we have about 80 shops and we have a kids’ area with daily activities and pony rides and we have a lot of different food concessions; sort of an international food court in a number of different spots on other parts of the showground.
The Hampton Classic is a registered nonprofit, how does the show help the local community?
The Hampton Classic is, itself, a nonprofit. We give an annual contribution to Southampton Hospital and we work with a lot of other charities. Really, the only checks we write are to Southampton Hospital and to Bridgehampton Fire Department. A lot of money comes through here, but we have a lot of expenses: we’re putting a show together in the middle of a field. The last number of years it’s been typically about $100,000 to Southampton Hospital, we’re getting close to $2 million for them. And then we do a lot of in-kind support for groups Just World, the Sag Harbor Food Pantry and the ASPCA.
What sort of in-kind support do you provide for these organizations?
Monday is ASPCA adoption and animal welfare day, so ASPCA helps bring in some dog and cat shelters and horse rescues that have animals looking for permanent homes. We showcase those animals here and hope that we can connect them with people looking to adopt animals. That’s been a great event. Also on Monday is our Riders with Disabilities final, there’s a Long Island horse show series for riders with disabilities, and the riders compete all spring and summer to qualify to ride at the finals here, at the Hampton Classic. We do a program with the Sag Harbor Food Pantry where we collect non-perishable food donations on Tuesday and Wednesday and if someone brings three or more items, their carload gets in for free.
We also have an exhibitor party that benefits Just World International, a charity that helps children in third world countries. Just World has a silent auction and they also run a “horseless horse show.” It’s really a very family-oriented horse show; we have things that would appeal to anyone—whether they have a family, or they’re single, or they ride themselves or they know someone, or even if they just want to come out and have a nice day in the Hamptons.
The Hampton Classic will run from Sunday, August 24 through the following Sunday, August 31 at 240 Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton. Daily weekday tickets cost $10 per person or $20 for two or more in a car. Weekend prices vary. VIP tickets are available and range in price from $400 per table to $30,000. For more information visit hamptonclassic.com or call 537-5446.