Maryland 5* --- **Important Info** for GA Ticket Holders

My friends and I were recently directed to the Maryland 5*'s Policies & FAQs page, which lays out what you can and cannot bring onsite during the event.

The list is a bit hard to decipher, being both oddly specific in some places (“Single strap diaper bags, if accompanied by a child.”; “Excessive coolers will be confiscated.”) and deliberately vague elsewhere (No “Flasks,” but the word ‘alcohol’ does not appear anywhere on the page – as of this writing, at least. Plus the murky distinctions between what counts as “light refreshments” vs “large food quantities”…).

So I reached out to the event organizers to get more clarity on what General Admission ticket holders can expect to be allowed to carry through the gates. Based on our back and forth, we arrived at the following list of policies:

  • Reusable water bottles must arrive empty, unless they come in a tailgate vehicle. (ETA: I’ve been told there will be water stations around the venue)).
  • No meals unless the food arrives in a tailgate vehicle or is purchased onsite.
  • No alcohol or unsealed liquid containers unless arriving in a tailgate vehicle or purchased onsite. (direct quote: “If you did not purchase a tailgating pass, you are not permitted to bring alcohol to the property.”)
  • General admission crowd is subject to metal detectors and bag checks, including limitations on types and sizes of bags that may be carried. Exemptions for guests, bags, etc that arrive in a tailgate vehicle.
  • Limit two (2) coolers per tailgate vehicle, no limit on items not inside a cooler.

This is a departure from how Fair Hill’s fall event was run prior to the new 5* structure, where spectators were welcome to bring enough supplies to spend the whole day out wandering the extensive grounds out in the elements, rain or shine.

The discrepancies between rules for GA vs more expensive ticket holders feels a little bit like a money grab to me, too. Especially the bit about bag checks for GA, but an actual entire literal vehicle can go sit trackside for just a bit more $$…

I’m curious to hear whether anybody else is surprised by these policies, or whether you think they’re appropriate for this caliber or type of event?

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I haven’t been to any big events in a long time - the last one I went to was WEG in Kentucky, and I don’t remember any such kinds of rules (or maybe we just happened to not run into them). No metal detectors, no “security”, no restrictions on bags (size, number of straps, contents or otherwise).

I’m not sure how I feel about it - at first glance it definitely feels a bit excessive. Maybe it’s part of their deal with the food vendors or something?

Ok, glad I’m not the only one with that reaction. You’re probably right about deals with vendors etc… Tho, the person I talked with kept saying the bag checks were about “security” and “safety.” But they’re letting CARS in??? Idk, it doesn’t really make sense.

And yea, re: other big events, I go to basically ever major FEI event in Area II (Fair Hill’s spring event, Great Meadow, Plantation, Morven, Loch Moy, Jersey Fresh, and have gone to Kentucky’s 5* a number of times) and have never seen rules like this either…

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This will be interesting because I have extreme food allergies including to most bottled water. I’ll be bringing a backpack with water and some food and a letter from my doctor. I’ve never seen restrictions like this before at horse events

Good call on the doctor’s note. When I asked about backpacks in particular (since that type of bag wasn’t initially indicated as allowed on the FAQs page, which has since been updated), they said that the backpack could be ‘single compartment.’ Kaleigh’s reasoning is that bags must be single compartment to streamline the bag check process, and the bag checks are necessary for security (again tho, presumably they’re not scrutinizing every nook and cranny of a tailgate vehicle?). So… maybe choose your backpack with care?

I’m trying to figure out how they’re going to even handle enforcing all of this - considering that you had to email them several times to get a clear understanding of what is and isn’t allowed, I can only imagine how many people are going to show up expecting it to be like every other event they’ve been to.

I have a single compartment backpack that I can bring. They had similar rules for the world equestrian games but we found the security company doing the search was really friendly and didn’t care about food they were searching for weapons only.

@Mander – yea idk how they’re planning to do enforcement either. Like, once you’re inside the gate, are they really going to make you show a receipt if you’re walking around with a slice of pizza or a white claw?? lol… and yea, definitely feel like a bunch of long time Fair Hill go-ers are gonna be in for a surprise if they prove to be strict at the gates.

@stargzng386 that’s good to know about your WEG experience, and basically what my friends and i are trying to decide. like, should we just show up with the food and drinks we’d normally bring, and hope for the best at the gates? we’ll see, i guess!

I’m not going until Saturday so maybe someone who is there Thursday or Friday can let us know how it goes??

I’ll be there volunteering on Friday (and am hoping to get volunteer credentials for Saturday too) so I’ll follow up after we see what’s what on the grounds. Security might be different on Saturday, tho since it’s the busiest day, but I’ll let you know what I see regardless!

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Thank you!

It’s definitely going to be interesting with bag check. As someone with food allergies (I can’t eat gluten or dairy and I shouldn’t eat soy and I don’t eat red meat), I anticipate that I will not be able to eat at all. I will bring kind bars and some GF crackers (I’ll make use of pockets, my wallet, and my medication pouch), but honestly, it’s frustrating that those of us with chronic illnesses can’t eat during events.

I’m volunteering all day Thursday and Friday, but will bring actual food for those days. I’ll be over at the Saw Mill field so I’ll have my car and a cooler inside. But, for those volunteering in the main area, there is a different volunteer entrance and volunteers likely won’t have the same security as GA holders. So, I suspect you can bring food for your volunteer shifts (even though food will be provided) if you have dietary restrictions. At least that’s what I was told.

ugh yea :frowning: i’ve been kinda fixated on how annoying it is to buy the $$ tickets then still be on the hook for buying all my food and drinks for a whole day spent walking outside (esp considering i’m assuming there won’t be concessions stands in every area on course, like the sawmill field)… can’t even imagine the frustration for folks with severe dietary restrictions tho…

Does anyone know if there are capacity limits on general admission tickets for Sat, or any other reason to buy well in advance?

Great… I need to find a new backpack by next week? I usually have not only my jacket and camera in there, but I buy a bunch of stuff from vendors and don’t want to carry things around all day. This usually includes the food (I will buy a big bag of kettle corn, for example, and take most of it home to eat all week.) I think this is going to backfire on them as I will be spending less, not more, if I have nowhere to put the things.

I don’t know where you even find a backpack with one compartment, other than those awful drawstring bags that would hurt to wear with any weight in them.

I just spoke with them and confirmed my mini backpack is not allowed in the gate. I sent them this exact screen shot and they said no.

I’ll be bringing my fannypack since that’s a single compartment.

I did find a lot of clear single compartment stadium-approved backpacks on Amazon for $20 or less, if anyone needs a backpack.

Think in terms of Kentucky or World Games level of security. Someone mentioned great meadow, spring Fairhill, etc and those are just FEI shorts, so attendance is open and security isn’t really that high.

This is the cream of the crop with it being a FEI 5*, so security will be too. I remember at the world games there was definitely restrictions on bags that could be brought in, only allowed one water bottle and outside food was not allowed inside the grounds unless you had a medical reason ( or tailgating). Even Kentucky has restrictions and security. They also check bags that come into the park.

Al the restrictions listed above is the norm for that level of event and I’m not surprised.big sports games also have much the same restrictions ( super bowl, footballs games, baseball games).

All riders must have accreditation, limited people with stabling…

This is their first year doing it, but the goal is to be eventually like Kentucky.

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So weird. One huge diaper bag is OK as long as it is one compartment (bug huge enough to hide all kinds of things in), but a small bag with a couple tiny compartments not big enough to hide anything is not OK?
Just tell people to have everything unzipped and ready for inspection… geez.

I guess the work around is to find someone who is tail gating and toss your bag into their vehicle and pick it up once inside the gate.

I’ve definitely had my large backpack at Kentucky (back when it was Rolex) so that was fine unless they’ve severely tightened the security in the years since I’ve been there.

I’ve never had my bags checked at Kentucky… You walk up to the gates, scan your tickets, and cruise right on in.

The “security” explanation doesn’t make sense if they’re not giving the same level of scrutiny to actual entire vehicles coming onsite to sit trackside. That little backpack pictured above is not allowed, but are they checking tailgate vehicle trunks and glove compartments and seatback pockets?

If the answer to that is no, then I don’t see how they can say the bag rules are about anything other than ensuring people don’t bring in outside food or drinks onsite if they didn’t cough up the $$ for upgraded tickets.