The 33rd Washington International Horse Show brings eight days of equestrian events to the Capital Centre in Landover Oct. 20-27. Rated one of the top horse shows in the country, the event attracts some of the best riders and horses from around the world as well as show jumping teams from France, Great Britain, Canada and the United States.
The week's highlights include the Bank of Montreal Nations' Cup, Oct. 24; Crown Royal Gambler's Choice Stake, Oct. 25; the UST "Puissance" Great Wall competition, an attempt to break the world high-jumping record, Oct. 26; and the Maglite President's Cup Grand Prix, in which the best riders negotiate obstacle courses, Oct. 27. Other attractions are championship cutting horse finals, antique coaches and carriages, draft horse hitches, dressage performances, Jack Russell Terrier Races and boulevard of shops.
Weekday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., weekend performances at 7 p.m., Oct. 20 matinee performance at 2:30 p.m. and Oct. 26-27 matinee performances at 2 p.m. General admission and reserved seating tickets range from $5 to $20, with proceeds donated to local and national children's organizations.
For information, call (301) 840-0281.
Another top equestrian event this week is the 54th running of the International Gold Cup Races on Saturday at Great Meadow race course in the Plains, Va.
Purses for this year's event make it the richest day of fall steeplechasing in Virginia. Five hurdle and two timber races are featured on the seven-race card. Post time for the first race is 1:30 p.m., with the International Gold Cup Timber Stakes scheduled at 3:30 p.m.
Gates open at 10 a.m. and prerace activities begin at 10:30 a.m. with terrier races, an exhibition by the U.S. Park Police Drill Team and a carriage parade. The program also includes pony races at noon and a new junior horse race. Numerous concessions will be available on the grounds.
A general admission car pass, which admits up to six people, costs $30 in advance or $35 at the gate. The race course is three miles south of the Plains exit, off Interstate 66. For information, call (703) 347-1215.
The St. Maries Militia will host a Grand Militia Muster Saturday and next Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at historic St. Mary's City. The event brings 17th century re-enactment groups from all over the East Coast to set up their camps and to compete in pike and musket drill, swordplay, camp cooking and other demonstrations in the fields around the 1676 State House.
Inside the State House, Choregraphie Antique, the Goucher Dance History Ensemble, will perform two programs of late 17th century dances at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Dressed in costumes of the period, the dancers will be accompanied by Musica Antiqua, a chamber trio, who perform on old instruments. The program also features instrumental and vocal music of the era.
The weekend activities are included in the general admission price of $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for ages 6 to 12. Historic St. Mary's City is on Route 5, about six miles south of Lexington Park in Southern Maryland. For information, call (301) 862-0960.
A short distance away the St. Mary's County Oyster Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary at the St. Mary's County Fairgrounds in Leonardtown Saturday and next Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Two events, the National Oyster Shucking Championship Contest and the National Oyster Cook-Off, attract visitors from all over the country. Oysters get top billing on the menu, but there's also a variety of Southern Maryland food specialties. Arts and crafts, live bands, exhibits, and children's activities are other attractions.
Admission is $2. The fairgrounds are just south of Leonardtown on Route 5. For information, call (301) 863-5015.
Hot-air balloons will float over the Pocono Mountains next weekend during the seventh annual Shawnee Autumn Balloon Festival from Friday to Sunday at the Shawnee Inn in Shawnee-on-Delaware, Pa.
Balloonists will compete for points in the "hare and hound" balloon competitions with more than 25 hot-air balloons expected to participate. The first liftoff will take place Friday at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Sunday's flights are scheduled at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Continuous entertainment is planned Saturday and next Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m. Skydivers, music, circus performers, children's activities, clowns, jugglers, boomerang demonstrations, pig races, carnival rides, midway games and balloon crew competitions are among the many attractions. There will also be over 100 arts and crafts and food vendors on the grounds.
Admission on Friday is $3 for adults, $2 for children. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $8 for adults, $3 for ages 4 to 12. Gates open at 2 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The inn is just off Pennsylvania Exit 52 of Interstate 80. For information, call (717) 421-1500.
Three large festivals are planned next weekend, as the leaves reach their peak of color in West Virginia.