Tryon International Equestrian Center
Saturday Night Lights at the Tryon International Equestrian Center is a horse show with added family fun. They happen spring, summer and fall, check the website or Facebook for their calendar of events. We have been visiting the up-state of South Carolina for the better part of a decade and this is a fantastic addition to the area. Tryon is located just over the North Carolina border. The Saturday Night Lights event runs certain Saturdays with competition starting at 8pm. The gates open at 6pm, but you should arrive even earlier to have dinner at one of the restaurants and secure the best parking.
We arrived at Saturday Night Lights at the Tryon International Equestrian Center at 4:30pm and parked right up front. We did use the wrong address to get their so after redirecting ourselves by calling the center and getting the correct address we found it easily. I would recommend checking their website for directions.
After surveying the local restaurants, of which there are at least 4-5 options, we decided to try Blue Ginger Sushi & Noodles. I ordered a Japanese marble soda and two rolls; one of them being the Pryo roll which is wrapped in aluminum foil, doused in 151, and set ablaze to give a certain "mesquite" flavor. Our table also ordered the ramen and edamame. Everything we ordered was delicious, but not cheap. Of course, everything is relative: my father-in-law spent considerable time in Tokyo and was overjoyed to find authentic sushi at what he felt were bargain-basement prices. He said that he'd literally paid as much as the entire Pyro roll cost for a single bite in Tokyo. It ended up being a pricey dinner for the 6 of us but I would return again. (Roger's Diner looked yummy for more classic American-style food.)
By the time we finished dinner the Saturday Night Light's event was underway. I was really impressed with all of the free things they had for kids. A carousel, face-painting, a bounce house, a guy making amazing bubbles and an entertainer walking around. Plus, half a dozen stores to visit, a bar, independent food vendors, cotton candy, ice cream and a coffee shop.
The competition started at 8pm so we started to look for our seats around 7:30. Apparently, the competition we attended had brought only a light crowd. Some people had brought towels and put them over seats so the upper end seats were taken but most of the seats were completely open. A band was playing live entertainment and boy were they good!
We picked front row seats, we didn't know that meant we were in the "splash zone" when the water trucks came out to smooth the field, kind of like a Zamboni but so much more entertaining. Along with the water truck, 2 tractors flew around the field to fluff the sand, set to a fast paced country song performed live by the band, and it reminded me a lot of Mater from the Disney Movie Cars. If you have been to Disneyland think Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.
The competition at Saturday Night Lights on August 19th was horse jumping. Now, I truly can't tell you how they score or why the time limit before penalties was 83 seconds, but I do know that the crowd all gasped and sighed whenever a horse "lowered a fence."
We stayed for the first set of 9 horses at our first spot and then moved during the break to one of the lawn areas. This seems to be where most of the spectators with small children sit so the children can move around and have a little freedom. There were 18 horses total that night but after 11 or so of them competing and way past my kids' bedtimes we were ready to head out.
The Saturday Night Light's event is worth a visit whether you are a family or an older tourist. They have something for everyone. The event and parking is free unless you purchase food or drinks so why not? See you out there under the Saturday Night Light's at the Tryon International Equestrian Center.