• 46°

TIEC, Tryon Riding & Hunt Club to host 72nd annual Block House Races April 14

The 72nd annual Tryon Block House Races are set for Saturday, April 14.

For decades, founding organization Tryon Riding & Hunt Club produced this action-packed, equestrian competition, which continues to draw thousands of spectators to the largest tailgate party in Polk County.

Now, under the management of the Tryon International Equestrian Center at Tryon Resort, the races are being held for the second year at its new, A-rated course in Columbus, just minutes from Tryon Resort. Tailgating spots and VIP hospitality tickets for the 2018 Tryon Block House Races will go on sale March 12 on www.tryon.com.

Generations later, more than 9,000 spectators turned out for the 2017 event, which featured an expanded lineup of races, growing from 17 entries the previous year to 40, and prize money that more than doubled to $175,000. Attendees can expect their favorite contests to launch the day including the hat contest, tailgate contest, and the infamous “Go to Heck Pants” contest.

For Mark Bellissimo — the managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners who owns and operates Tryon International Equestrian Center, and is the partner organization for the Tryon Block House Races — this historic steeplechase originally attracted his family to the Polk County area and is a critical event to grow for the region.

“I am incredibly fond of this historic steeplechase and its legacy to equestrian sport in this region and beyond,” Bellissimo said. “I am pleased that we can leverage our resources to enhance the race experience for both the horseman and the spectator. I am certain the Tryon Block House Races will continue to grow and become one of the most sought-after opportunities for both athletes and spectators.”

The event is expected to continue to grow at its new venue, and 2017 “Go to Heck Pants” contest winner, Beau Harling agrees.

“This is my 17th year at the Block House Races, although my family has been coming for 60 years, and this new venue is gorgeous,” Harling said. “With the stage and the vendors now and the kids’ area, this event is gonna grow and considering this is just the first year, y’all have done a heck of a job. People better buy their tickets fast for next year because in three years, this event will be a sell-out.”

Tryon Riding & Hunt Club President Andrew Brannon, who is a third-generation member of his family to hold the executive position, is looking forward to the 72nd Tryon Block House Races.

“The Tryon Riding and Hunt Club is looking forward to another successful milestone in the history of the steeplechase meet series. We appreciate the partnership with the Tryon Resort and putting on another great event for our members and the community at large,” Brannon said.

In addition to the hat, tailgate and “Go to Heck Pants” contests, attendees can enjoy an appearance from the Tryon Hounds, live music and a variety of vendors. Tryon Equestrian Partners Roger and Jennifer Smith will serve as the honorary race chairmen.

For tailgate parking passes or tickets to the VIP Legends Hospitality Tent, visit www.tryon.com. Tickets will remain on sale until 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 14, and the gates will open at 9 a.m. at the new facility, located at 6881 South North Carolina Highway 9 in Columbus.

The 72nd annual Tryon Block House Races weekend begins with a pre-race kickoff event onsite at the steeplechase venue inside the Legends VIP Tent.

The evening includes the traditional Tryon Riding & Hunt Club live auction of original artwork for the club’s annual steeplechase poster. Guests can also enjoy an Argentine Asado buffet dinner, live music, dancing and cash bar.

The event is from 6 to 9 p.m. and is open to the public. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online at www.tryon.com.

For more info on the Tryon Block House Races and Tryon International Equestrian Center, visit www.tryon.com.

Submitted by the Tryon International Equestrian Center