For Kathy Schwartz, volunteering is a way of life. She has been volunteering at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair since the mid-1960s and has inspired her five children to follow in her footsteps, four of whom are still very involved with the show. She has worked on many Devon Country Fair Committees and has served as Assistant Devon Country Fair Treasurer for several years. In 2012, Kathy was honoured as the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair Volunteer of the Year. She told us about her experience throughout the years and why she keeps coming back.
I’ve volunteered since the mid-1960s. I had a lot of friends that were getting involved at the same time [and that’s why I started volunteering]. I started volunteering in toys and teens, and that was fun because my kids were little, and when I was chairman I had all the boxes shipped to my home and I had to prize all the toys with stickers and they [the children] would do that for me.
My kids have grown up with it so they all volunteer. And it’s just fun, I see friends. We just do it for the good. It gives you a sense of belonging when you help.
Importance of the event for the community
All the funds that the country fair raises, we donate to the Bryn Mawr Hospital. We gave to the hospital last year, I think $430,000. We have a 2 million dollar pledge for the building, we started three or four years ago. The country fair is separate from the horse show and the country fair does the fundraising for the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair and that’s all volunteers.
To date, volunteers have raised over $14,000,000 for the hospital.
It’s very important people to get involved. You can see the improvements at the hospital. I remember once of the first times we were acknowledged, we gave money for the elevator and they put a plaque “Donated by the Devon County Fair Volunteers”. We feel [the board] that we must acknowledge the volunteers, let them know what they do is the money that we give to the hospital. It’s important that the volunteers know that, that we thank them.
Changes through the years
The show has gotten larger. Basically it’s the same but we have a big grandstand now. The biggest challenge is in keeping this going. We do things that try to get people in. Ladies day, family day. It’s a lot of fun meeting nice people, great horses. Meeting some of the riders.
One year they honoured me and then three years ago, they honoured my whole family: my grandchildren, my children and my generation because we’ve been involved so long.
Gamblers Choice and of course, the Grand Prix but this year there’s eventing on Sunday night, so that’s going to be exciting.
When President Dwight D. Eisenhower came [in the 1960s]. It was exciting.
A lot of celebrities have come to Devon. Paul Newman’s daughter rode here and he went to buy a hamburger, this was years ago, and they took the five dollar bill and framed it.
I’ve made wonderful friendships [at Devon] through this day.
Hopes for the future
I hope it continues to improve.