Live From Tryon, It’s Saturday Night

Saturday Night Lights in Tryon is a showcase of intensity and fanfare.

SNL is a big hit in the foothills. The initials don’t stand for Saturday Night Live but rather “Saturday Night Lights” — and it’s not late-night comedy, but rather early-evening fun family style, with activities for toddlers, elders, and everyone in between.

The name is also a take-off on “Friday Night Lights” — the football tradition. But what goes down (and over, and up) at Tryon International Equestrian Center is its own animal — pun intended. Every Saturday night in spring and summer, international-class jumpers and their riders compete for purses that grow fatter as the season progresses. This week, it’s the $25,000 Odom Engineering/PLLC Grand Prix, with post time at 8pm. (The amount swells to $380,000 by June 11.)

“The events have grown tremendously within the past year,” says TIEC Social Media and Marketing Manager Carly Weilminster. “At our grand opening [last year], we exceeded 8,000 people in attendance.”

As far as competitors, she adds, “the SNL events offer a great opportunity to gain experience in an intense atmosphere in front of a large crowd, and we will welcome some of the best riders in the world to the venue this coming season.” [Later in the summer, TIEC will host two “CSI 5*” events — the highest designated competition in the sport of show jumping.]

But despite the high stakes on the field, activities (not to mention admission and parking) are gratis. The evening runs four hours long, 6-10pm, and satellite activities are legion, including a Venetian-style carousel, free pony rides, face painting, live music, and magicians. On-site restaurants — nine in all — offer everything from subs to sushi.

“There’s a major emphasis on providing free and engaging family entertainment and activities for the local community and surrounding region,” says Weilminster.

Saturday Night Lights at Tryon International Equestrian Center, Saturdays in spring and summer, 6-10pm. 828-863-1000.

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