For the first time in its 36 years, the Hampton Classic horse-and-rider competition has canceled the first three days of festivities.
On Thursday, Hurricane Irene’s expected landfall on Sunday had prompted organizers to scratch off the opening day from the Bridgehampton event, which had been scheduled to go from Sunday through Sept. 4.
But today, they decided to delay the show until Wednesday, saying time is needed to put back up the tents and horse stalls that are being taken down. Some of the Sunday competitions and all the ones on the Monday and Tuesday schedule will be held later in the week. Horses and vendors will be allowed on site after noon Tuesday, and the ASPCA Adoption Day, which was for Monday, will be a virtual adoption day on hamptonclassic.com.
“Our first priority is to put on the best show” without endangering anyone, said Dennis Suskind, president of Hampton Classic board.
The show draws tens of thousands of visitors each year, including Hollywood stars, the well-heeled, live television coverage and riders from around the world. The grand prize is $250,000.
Executive director Shanette Cohen said Thursday that opening day losses could exceed six figures, which could be made up by getting more sponsors and cutting expenses in future shows. She had made the decision, haunted by the images of high winds blowing down the concert stage earlier this month at the Indiana State Fair, killing seven people.
Suskind, a retired partner with Goldman Sachs, said the financial losses will be something they just have to live with: “The numbers are the numbers.”
He and Cohen emphasized a positive note Thursday. For the rest of the show, the weather should be fine.
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