Traverse City, MI – July 26, 2011 – With a show as expansive as Horse Shows by the Bay, sponsorship support is priceless in helping make the events the best they can be. One such invaluable sponsor is Meijer, the family-centered company whose stores stretch across several states in the midwest. Based out of Grand Rapids, MI, Meijer has supported Horse Shows by the Bay as a Gold Sponsor since 2007. In addition to providing financial support, Meijer also participates directly: both Starr Meijer and her daughter Kendall ride and compete on their own horses, making Michigan’s most beautiful equestrian festival a true family affair.
The two most equestrian-minded members of the Meijer family pointed to location as a prime asset of Horse Shows by the Bay. “Being from Michigan, there’s no better place to be in the summer than Traverse City,” Starr Meijer noted during Series III. “It’s just perfect.” Kendall added, “It’s a great location, I love being in Traverse City. It makes the show really fun. The location sets this show apart, because we don’t get any other big shows like this in Michigan.” Both Starr and Kendall have been at Horse Shows by the Bay for the first three weeks, and will continue to participate during the fourth week as well.
“I also think that what sets it apart as a horse show is that they put a lot of money back into the landscaping,” Kendall observed. “I think all the trees and everything they’ve used in the jumps, they just plant right back into the show grounds. Every year it gets a little nicer, so it’s fun to see that. Plus Flintfields is more of a permanent show grounds than some of the other shows we go to.” Starr echoed her daughter’s appreciation of the show grounds, saying “the landscape in the Grand Prix ring is amazing. The people here from other states are really impressed with the landscape and everything Traverse City has to offer. Since the show management keeps investing, it just keeps getting better and better, and the horse show keeps growing and growing. Plus, the summer temperatures here are better than if you’re going to some of the shows further south.”
Like the Meijer stores, the Meijer family’s relationship with equestrian sports has grown over the years. “Everybody loves horses,” Starr commented. “Fred (Meijer, chairman of the company) got us into horses. Fred wanted to take the whole family out to a dude ranch one summer, because he really loved horses, but he really didn’t ride per se because he was always working. So the whole family went out to Colorado, maybe about twelve years ago. Kendall had never even been on a horse prior to that, so we gave her riding lessons, thinking it might be good for her to take a few lessons before we went out west to ride. That’s kind of where it all started! So I keep blaming Fred for getting us into horses.”
Kendall, who has now been riding for over ten years, added, “I got back, and just wanted to keep taking riding lessons.” Starr continued, “Then we went back the following year to a dude ranch, and Fred got on a horse, and he’s always loved it. They are majestic animals. We’d always loved to watch, but prior to that we had no clue, but it has just evolved since then.”
Here at Horse Shows by the Bay, Starr competes in the hunter ring, while Kendall shows in hunters, jumpers, and equitation. “It’s a very positive competitive environment,” Kendall observed. “Yes,” added Starr, “you root for the other people that you know, and when you see them do well, it’s great.” Starr’s horses at this year’s show include Arto and Cooper, while Kendall’s horses are Caprio, Casanova, Tigger, and Tundra. Upon Tundra, Kendalll earned reserve champion honors in the Adult Amateur Hunter division during Horse Shows by the Bay Series II, a World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) event.
“We originally came when this show was at its previous location,” said Starr, “and this facility here is amazing. They keep putting money back into it, which is wonderful for everybody – not just the horse show world but also the spectators, and they have special things for kids now, so they’re trying to get the community involved, get visitors involved, and it just helps the whole horse show world.” Kendall concluded, “We’ve really enjoyed seeing what all the sponsors have helped make happen with the horse show. It’s awesome, I love it here.”
On Saturday, July 30, Meijer will support a fundraiser for the CANTER organization, or the Communication Alliance to Network Ex-Racehorses. CANTER, a non-profit organization operating out of several states and with a chapter in Michigan, will host a hospitality dinner following the Hunter/Jumper Association of Michigan Equitation Medal Finals in the Grand Prix Ring at Flintfields Horse Park, as well as the $30,000 D-BRAIDER Cherry Capital Classic Grand Prix this Saturday. Robbie Timmons, one of the founding members of CANTER, noted that these ex-racehorses are “extremely intelligent, competitive, and willing to please with the heart of a Thoroughbred, but some are just not fast enough to win races and must retire from racing before age five. CANTER volunteers transition retiring racehorses through rehabilitation and retraining. They compete and succeed in high-level events as hunters/jumpers, dressage, and more. Many find their way, once again, to the winners circle.” If you have an Off The Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) and are participating in Horse Shows By the Bay.. we’d like to know! Please tell us about you and your horse by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling Robbie at 248-363-8059.
Now one of the largest retailers in the United States, Meijer started as a grocery store in Greenville, MI during the 1930s. Founder Hendrik Meijer and his son Fred eventually spread their successful store concept to other areas of Michigan. Today, Meijer stores can also be found in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. The Meijer family has a long and generous history of philanthropy, including funding support for Grand Valley State University, Spectrum Health, the Gerald R. Ford Museum, and the 125-acre Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, among many others. Meijer stores also emphasize support for the local community, as customers can participate in the Meijer Community Rewards Program. This program allows those who shop at Meijer to designate a portion of their proceeds to a charitable or non-profit recipient. Every year, at least six percent of Meijer’s net profits go back to the community.
Horse Shows by the Bay’s sponsors include farms, equestrian suppliers, families, and companies committed to supporting the equestrian industry. Benefits for sponsors include on-site banners, show jump and vendor/product display opportunities, hospitality amenities, and public address system announcements. In addition, sponsors receive advertisement inclusion in the participant show program, spectator event guide, participant registration booklet, and e-news letters.
Through the end of July, the multi-series Horse Shows by the Bay will continue to offer riders and fans the ideal horse sports venue. During the fourth and final week of competition, held July 27 – 31, notable events include the $30,000 D-BRAIDER Cherry Capital Classic Grand Prix on Saturday evening, as well as a $10,000 Children’s/Adult Jumper Prix and VIP Sponsor Luncheon on Sunday afternoon. Next week will also feature the fourth $10,000 Open Jumper Welcome Prix, multiple equitation medal classes, and the finals for the Hunter Jumper Association of Michigan’s medal events. Over half a million dollars in prize money will be awarded by the conclusion of this month-long celebration of equestrian athletes.
For more information or to view schedules, please visit www.horseshowsbythebay.com or call 231-267-3700.