Photos and text by Karl Merton Ferron
Volunteers scrambled through the day, shuttling visitors back and forth. Children tossed footballs on hilltops. And adults tossed bean bags between races in the 17th annual Legacy Chase, part of the 2017 National Steeplechase Schedule, held on over 300 acres of preserved lands in the Hunt Valley area.
Developed through the LPT (Land Preservation Trust) as a steeplechase course, spectators carted picnic foods, blankets and tables to the rolling hillside, braving unseasonably warm, humid day to enjoy eight horse races, as equestrians leapt over timber jumps while youngsters competed in stick pony racing and received temporary tattoos.
While the Legacy Chase supported GBMC HealthCare, the annual event took place on lands that could have been lost forever, had it not been saved by local residents, years ago. Shawan Farms’s 291 acres was sold in 1997 by its heirs as an opportunity to land preservation, which protects the fields and woodlands from development, which threatens the countryside. The LPT currently has permanently secured almost 13,000 acres and 340 properties from being developed in Baltimore County, according to its website.
Reacting after 475 acres of the historic Hayfields farm was seized and transformed to a golf resort, a dozen Baltimore County residents banded together, according to a 1997 article by Sun reporter Liz Atwood, to preserve the property which is two miles west of Interstate 83 off Shawan Road. With a $2.5 million contract, the group snatched up the site, which was available to developers.