Countdown to the Block House

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, March 31, 2016

Artwork for this year’s Block House poster is this painting by Laurie Sullivan.

Artwork for this year’s Block House poster is this painting by Laurie Sullivan.

We’re just 37 days away from the historic 70th running of the Block House Steeplechase on Saturday, May 7, at FENCE. Introduced by Tryon Riding & Hunt Club in 1947, the Block House is not only the largest single-day draw of visitors to our area, it’s the longest-running steeplechase in North Carolina.

Reserved parking spots for the 2016 Block House are now on sale to the public through a new online ticket sales platform. It makes the process quick and easy by displaying up-to-the-minute availability and even lets you print your own parking pass for your vehicle’s dashboard. You can do it all at

Celebrating Block House “Heritage Families”

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While the Block House’s 70 years are impressive, so is the number of families who have made the races a part of their lives for decades. This year TR&HC will be recognizing 55 “Heritage Families” who have earned this designation based on seniority, as determined by combined total years of TR&HC membership and Block House Steeplechase ticket purchases. All 2016 Heritage Families have at least 50 years of seniority.

One of those families – that of Ambrose Mills of Tryon – has been buying spots at the Block House for 41 years. But their support dates to the very beginning: Ambrose was one of the Boy Scouts who helped park cars at the first Block House Races in 1947. The family continued their Block House dedication even while spending four years in England for Ambrose’s job.

“The company paid for one trip home a year and we all – myself, my wife and four kids – always used that trip to come to the steeplechase,” Ambrose remembers. “To me, the Block House is Tryon at its best.”

Each Heritage Family will be listed in the Official Race Guide and is being sent a Heritage Family ribbon that TR&HC hopes will be displayed at the families’ tailgate spots on race day.

“We are pleased to be publicly honoring these families for their years of loyalty and support to the Block House and to Tryon Riding & Hunt Club,” said TR&HC Executive Director Kathryn McMahon. “They are a treasured part of our heritage. We look forward to awarding these Heritage Family ribbons each year – and adding more – for many years to come.”

Be part of the Block House

Come to the Block House races on May 7 at FENCE, where you’ll find all of the old traditions and some great new twists. Watch for Block House updates every Friday before race day in the Tryon Daily Bulletin and visit for more information. Go to to join or renew your membership – which will get you a head start on buying next year’s tickets.

 – Submitted by Tryon Riding & Hunt Club