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Sports · July 23, 2019

Upperville horse show seeks its third leader in 3 years

File Photo
The week-long Upperville Colt & Horse Show attracts thousands of participants and spectators each June.
Upperville Colt & Horse Show
• What: A week-long AA Rated show each June

• Founded: 1853 and considered nation’s oldest horse show

• Structure: Non-profit organization with 24-member, volunteer board of directors

• Annual revenue: $2.6 million*

• Assets: $4.9 million*

• Show grounds: 9197 John S. Mosby Highway (Route 50), west of village

• Features: A wide range of competition for amateur and professional riders from all over the U.S.

• Horses: More than 1,000

• Website:

* Source: GuideStar
By Leonard Shapiro
For FauquierNow

Barbara Roux has resigned after only one year as president of the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, leaving the board of directors for the iconic June event seeking its third leader in three years.

According to sources, Ms. Roux, who owns St. Bride’s Farm near Upperville with her husband David, recently informed the board that she would be stepping down after only a year at the helm of an event that began in 1853. Since moving to the area in 2012, she had served on the all-volunteer board and as a first vice president.

Her replacement has not yet been named, but speculation from several board members, who asked not to be identified, focused on First Vice President Shelby Bonnie as the leading candidate.

“He’d be the perfect choice,” one board member said.

The nation’s oldest horse show has annual gross receipts of $2.6 million and total assets of $4.9 million, according to GuideStar, an information service that provides financial reports of nonprofit companies.

The week-long event each June attracts top amateur and professional riders from the U.S. and Europe.

Mr. Bonnie is the grandson of the late Mrs. A.C. “Theo” Randolph, the first woman to be president of the show for more than 20 years, starting in the mid-1960s. He also serves as a master of the Piedmont Hunt and owns the land on the jumper (north) side of the 19.4-acre show grounds along Route 50, just east of the village of Upperville.

Ms. Roux and Mr. Bonnie did not return telephone calls or text and email messages seeking comment.

Ms. Roux had replaced previous President Mike Smith of Upperville a few weeks after last year’s event. Mr. Smith, who had served as president for five years, resigned two days after the 2018 show, following a controversial incident involving him and a member of the catering staff for the main hospitality tent.

Mr. Smith, who lives near Upperville, apparently became verbally confrontational with the worker, who had attempted to drive into an area near the show’s main hospitality tent.

Ms. Roux’s tenure also was not without controversy.

“There definitely were some problems with this year’s show,” said one board member. “There were a lot of unhappy people.”

On her watch, a number of previous exhibitors, including some long-time participants, were told they had applied too late to reserve stalls and were not able to compete. The price of admission to park on the grounds increased, and parking spaces around the main hunter ring were eliminated.

Ms. Roux also switched from a Middleburg-based public relations firm, Bendure Communications, to Phelps Media Group, based in Wellington, Fla., and there was minimal local coverage before and during the event. Several photographers also expressed concerns about new restrictions on credentials.

A week after the event, Tommy Lee Jones, show manager for 37 years, also resigned. Several sources indicated he was unhappy with Ms. Roux’s management style.

Contact freelance journalist Len Shapiro at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
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Imemaycer73 · September 5, 2019 at 2:40 am
Its the third time that the leader of the Upperville horse is changing. The best leaders lead us and to the companies to the height of success. You need to check info to manage their thesis work. Hope that this new leader will prove to be the best one for it. Such leadership skills need to be appreciated on time.
Linda Ward · July 23, 2019 at 10:50 am
Oh, if we all only had such troubles. No place to park, oh no, prices going up, oh no, driving on the grass, oh no, the sky is falling, the sky is falling.
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