Friday, May. 31, 2024

2018 WEG Opening Ceremony To Be Free Community-Focused Concert Featuring Hunter Hayes



In a gesture of gratitude for the local communities surrounding Tryon International Equestrian Center where the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games are being held, Mark Bellissimo, managing Partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners, is announcing that TIEC will host a free, community-focused opening ceremony concert presented by Coca-Cola on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. featuring five-time Grammy nominee, country artist Hunter Hayes.

The evening will feature special guest speakers, including FEI President Ingmar De Vos and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, as well as other signature performances and demonstrations and pay tribute to the athletes—both horses and humans—who will compete at the 2018 Games.

“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 Bellissimo. “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 all with an event that they could all attend with their families.

“The vision of Tryon Resort was to create a world-class equestrian lifestyle destination but also re-energize a community that was impacted by a relocation of the textile industry,” he continued. “Visions are plentiful, but the challenge is always in the execution, and this collective team has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make this vision a reality. We have worked together to create a world-renowned equestrian destination and in parallel, an economic engine that will provide thousands of jobs and create opportunities for decades to come.

“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. 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,” said Bellissimo.


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 No. 1 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.” Hayes’ most recent releases include “Dear God,” an introspective track co-written with pop stars Andy Grammer and Dave Spencer, as well as the fast-paced, mischief-filled “One Shot.”

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.

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 September 12-23. The evening will include a Taste of Americana barbecue buffet option available for purchase, to complement the lively Country music and community gathering.

“We are honored to bring our community together here for the WEG to celebrate their good fortune and expose a broader generation to equestrian sport,” added Bellissimo.

While admission to the WEG opening ceremony is free, attendees must sign up for a free ticket online at under the “Tickets” link. Parking is $20 per car load and attendees will be shuttled to the main venue from the parking lot at 6985 S Highway 9, Columbus, NC. Gates to the parking lot, venue, and vendors open at 3 p.m. Tickets are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Those who previously purchased grounds passes for Sept. 11 will be refunded.



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