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    Chester County’s Willowdale Steeplechase continues tradition with some new additions

    Photo by Bob Plant

    At the Willowdale Steeplechase, everyone is excited to be back in the saddle! The long beloved Chester County tradition in the heart of Cheshire Hunt Country resumes this spring at full spectator capacity and features six thrilling steeplechase races.


    The 29th Running of the Willowdale Steeplechase will take place on Saturday, May 14, 2022 at 101 East Street Road in Kennett Square.


    What began as a vision by community leader W.B. Dixon Stroud, Jr. is now a premier horse racing event and a perfect day of fun activities for the entire family. Combining his love for the sport and his commitment to the community, Stroud enlisted the help of many others for the inaugural running of the Willowdale Steeplechase in 1993. Since then, the event has raised over one million dollars for local charities.


    Willowdale features a world-class steeplechase course in a community known for its top jockeys, trainers, and owners. For the 29th Running on May 14, Willowdale is pleased to welcome back all their activities: the Pony Races, Jack Russell Terrier Races, the Antique Car exhibit, boutique shopping, food vendors, and the fun and educational Kid’s Alley.


    New this year to the Kid’s Alley: a coloring contest and a Straw Bale Maze. The beloved Stick Pony races are back, and as always, science abounds. Kids can learn about freshwater science and veterinary medicine with interactive exhibits from Stroud Water Research Center and Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center.

    Photo by Bob Plant

    Family and friends can pack their picnics, put on their best hats and race outfits, and enjoy the fun of the Tailgate, Hat, and Best Dressed competitions.


    Also new this year is the elegant Jockey Club at Willowdale, a VIP tent which overlooks the Paddock and racecourse. A limited number of tables will be available in the Jockey Club for purchase.


    In response to the pandemic, Willowdale will follow all state and local COVID-19 guidelines while returning to its traditional tailgate spectator model, with the addition of a limited number of last year’s popular Private Party Paddocks. Available on a first-come, first-served basis, this exclusive tailgating opportunity includes parking for one car, a 10- by 10-foot tent, a table, and admission for up to 10 guests.


    From general admission to tailgate parking to Private Party Paddocks, your options are many. You can take a day trip to enjoy the fun and excitement of Willowdale Steeplechase racing any way you like.


    The Willowdale Steeplechase is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization based in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Their mission is to raise funds for clean water and veterinary excellence. Through donations to The Stroud Water Research Center and The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center, the Willowdale Steeplechase helps to further the stewardship of natural resources and educate the next generation of large animal veterinarians.


    Photos by Elizabeth Hedley unless otherwise noted.