Mill Spring, N.C. – Sept. 11, 2018 – Following the health inspections of horses for the dressage, reining and endurance competitors, athletes, organizers and community members celebrated the kick-off of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) with an unconventional opening ceremony. The Opening Ceremony is the customary kickoff to the two-week equestrian competition that will crown the world’s best horse and rider athletes across eight FEI disciplines from Sept. 12-23. While past WEGs have centered around the horse, Tryon 2018’s free, community-focused event, featured country musicians Joe Lasher and Grammy Nominated Hunter Hayes, a parade of nations and parachute teams.
In addition to the musical entertainment, guest speakers, the FEI President Ingmar De Vos and the First Lady of North Caroline Kristin Cooper welcomed athletes and spectators to the event.
“In addition to the amazing horse and rider teams who will compete at WEG this year, we wanted to also dedicate the Opening Ceremony to the team of people who truly stepped up to make this event happen,” said Mark Bellissimo, Managing Partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners. “We are delivering these Games in less than 18 months, a third of the usual planning time, and that would not have happened without the dozens of contractor teams and close to a thousand of their staff, as well as collective efforts of the local government, community, and our staff, so we wanted to honor them with an event that they could all attend with their families.”
“We are so honored to be hosting the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina and our team agreed that it was important to host a free event to showcase our gratitude for the overwhelming support shown to us as we prepared for this event in such a tight timeline,” he continued. “We are thrilled to welcome the incredibly talented Hunter Hayes to the Tryon stage, and look forward to a truly fantastic start to this iconic global celebration of the horse and sport.”
Opening for Hayes is country music’s rising star Joe Lasher, whose breakout single, “Nothing Better To Do Friday Nights,” is spinning on Country radio nationwide. Following Lasher’s performance and guest speakers’ welcome addresses, 68 flag bearers entered the stage for their parade. U.S. eventer Lynn Symansky took the athlete oath, while Anne Gribbons did the officials oath.
Afterward, the FEI President declared the Games open and Hayes’ took the stage. Hayes’ five-time multi-platinum single “Wanted,” which has been streamed over 110 million times on Spotify alone, received a GRAMMY nomination for “Best Country Solo Performance” in 2013. Featured on his two-time multi-platinum debut album Hunter Hayes, the smash hit became his first number one single on the country airplay charts and solidified him as the youngest solo male artist to top Billboard’s “Hot Country Songs” chart in over 40 years. The self-titled debut has accumulated over half a billion on-demand streams in the U.S. alone and also includes the platinum-certified number one song “Somebody’s Heartbreak,” the two-time multi-platinum “I Want Crazy” and the gold-certified singles “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” and “Storm Warning.”