by Ronda Payne/Special to the Langley Advance Times
Thunderbird Show Park opens its gates and welcomes everyone in a few times a year for world-class horse jumping, but there’s so much more than the equestrian events to see and do.
This is world-class entertainment for both those who follow the equestrian world, and those who don’t.
The Longinges FEI Jumping World Cup happens this Sunday, Aug., 25 at the show park and guests are invited to arrive a little before noon to take in all there is to see and do before the main event at 2 p.m.
As Chris Pack, chief operating officer and tournament manager with tbird, explained there are equestrian events running from today [Wednesday Aug. 21] up to Sunday – but Sunday is when the show park comes alive for visitors.
“We want people to come out when we have all the amenities available to them,” he said.
“We always want to be doing a proper job of taking care of people when they come here. That means we have the right team members on site, as well as food and entertainment to make sure the experience is the best it can be.”
Ways that tbird makes the experience even better are by including public-service announcements to let visitors know when certain things are happening and providing daily schedule handouts from the onsite “mailboxes.”
Tickets for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup are available online under “tickets” at tbird.ca, to make the process of getting in the gates at tbird even quicker, Pack explained.
Guests should enter off 72nd Avenue and show a printed ticket or the image of it on their phone.
General seating admission is just $5 with free parking included.
Once through the gates, music from a new Langley band called Behind Closed Doors will kick off at 12:30 p.m. and run to 1:30 p.m.
As a rock band, the group will play cover tunes and original songs before the main event and between rounds. It’s a chance to hear this up and coming band before anyone else does as they are headed into the recording studio in September.
While the music plays, kids will enjoy activities like pony rides, facepainting and the new playground northeast of the new grandstands at the world cup ring.
For parents, there’s shopping from vendor cabins that include everything from equestrian and pet gear to a nail salon and coffee shop.
Because the show falls around lunch time, people are invited to bring their own meal or partake in the offerings from the onsite food trucks or restaurants like the Bale & Bucket or Canter Inn for diverse and flavourful offerings.
At a little before 1:30 p.m. kids will be hoping to be spotted in the crowd by tbird officials.
“We choose two kids out of the spectators to be part of the lead line competition at 1:30,” Pack said.
“The kids sit on ponies and essentially have their first lesson. They are interviewed by the announcer. We supply helmets and they get a ribbon and a prize pack,” he explained.
Then, at 1:45 p.m. spectators can watch a marching band and the West Coast Thunder Drill Team pump up excitement levels prior to the 2 p.m. start of the world cup jumping event.
There are about 200 horse and rider teams competing in the FEI level competitions at tbird, and 35 will be in the world cup event, Pack explained.
It will be easy to see every jump, turn, and gallop from the new stands and the jumbotron screen as each horse and rider teams work to achieve an early foothold in the events.
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