Written by Victoria Peace
Photos by Caitlin Connolly
On April 30, 2022, the second annual Industry Insider Event was held at Mortgage Hall Estate. “The Industry Insider Event is an opportunity to bring together so many incredible local creatives and business owners directly impacted by or adjacent to the equestrian economy,” says Connor Duszynski, the event’s founder and organizer. “Our Hunt Country community is reliant on the success of the local equestrian culture here. It’s paramount that creatives [ranging] from equestrian photographers and artists, to equestrian lifestyle brands, business owners, and equestrian nonprofits come together to promote our shared interests.”
Farm to Table Dining
The event kicked off Friday afternoon with happy hour drinks and small bites on the patio. There was a multi-course lunch for attendees on Saturday and a farewell brunch on Sunday. The food was provided by Delacour Catering, which is owned and operated by Chef Peter Coughlin. Coughlin is a Culinary Institute of America graduate and a trained sommelier. He has experience working in restaurants, pastry kitchens, and currently holds a position at Belmont Butchery in Richmond, Virginia. He specializes in organic, farm-to-table food. Many of the ingredients he uses for his catering are sourced from local farms. Prior to the COVID-19, Coughlin was working in restaurants in New York. However, he “came back to Virginia after the pandemic to really highlight all of the amazing things we have here.”
During lunch on Sunday, several equestrian lifestyle brands and businesses were invited to display samples of their merchandise. Lisa Harris, founder and owner of Savenac 1821, set up a stunning display to showcase her fine equestrian jewelry. “I was in the fashion business for years and wanted to create my own line of jewelry,” Harris explains. “I felt like there was a void in the market for the type of quality of jewelry I was looking for that was equestrian inspired.” Her company is named after her grandmother’s horse farm in Bedford, Virginia.
Harris works in 18K yellow gold, white gold, and silver to create her handcrafted pieces. Savenac 1821 does not currently have a brick and mortar location, but Harris is hoping to establish one in the future as she grows the business. For now, she exhibits her work at horse shows and has just been accepted onto the official vendor list at Upperville this year.
“I couldn’t ask for a more beautiful venue to host the Industry Insider Events than Mortgage Hall,” Duszynski says. “Sabrina Sutton has been so gracious in hosting our events and bringing together our equestrians and equestrian-lovers from both near and far.” Sutton purchased Mortgage Hall in 2014 after it had been sitting vacant for almost 11 years. Over the past 14 years, Sutton has “put all of [her] energy into bringing it back to life.” Mortgage Hall is now available to be rented out for meetings, weddings, events, corporate gatherings, and private stays. “Fast forward nine years later and people are enjoying it on a regular basis. It has become a destination and a favorite place to go when people come into Middleburg,” Sutton says. “I am excited to keep growing with it.”
“The first Industry Insider Event last October took place during the weekend of the Fall International Gold Cup. It was a great opportunity to come together with so many like-minded equestrian entrepreneurs to promote horse sport locally, while also discussing themes of equine welfare and how to push the sport forward in a traditionally siloed community,” Duszynski says. “Moving forward, we’ll continue to bring these individuals to Hunt Country from near and far, reaffirming Virginia’s Hunt Country as an epicenter for horse sport here in the Mid-Atlantic. We’ve had guests join us for the day from Canada, the United Kingdom, and various parts of the United States. I don’t see any sign of slowing down.” ML