Excitement builds for the 2016 New Albany Classic in September

Jillian Span Hofbauer

For most, it might be quite enough to host the nation's largest specialty equestrian event. But the Wexners aren't most.

"It's really about families," says Abigail Wexner about the New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix, hosted annually at the Wexner residence. The one-day event, slated for September 25, grows just a little bigger and better each year as more than 350 volunteers and 18,000 visitors from the community come together in support of the Classic's beneficiary, the Center for Family Safety and Healing, an organization that helps victims of family violence in the Central Ohio community.

While the Classic is centered on an equestrian competition featuring Olympic-caliber athletes, which includes past wins by three of the four current members of the Rio Summer Olympics U.S. Show Jumping team, the event takes on the feeling of a country fair with rides, a concert and other entertainment for families.

(The Authentic Cup is the perpetual trophy awarded to the Classic winner. Photo by Jillian Span Hofbauer)

Headlining the 2016 Concert at the Classic is Kelsea Ballerini, the Academy of Country Music's New Female Vocalist of the Year. Ballerini is scheduled to perform at 10:30 a.m., with other performances by community partners like Columbus Children's Theatre and BalletMet set to take place throughout the day.

Also, returning for a second year in a row is the popular dinosaur tent with an even larger display of large-scale dinosaurs and props from the Jurassic movies, says Stephanie Lorenz, event director of the New Albany Classic. "[It] will be enhanced by a new 'Behind the Scenes of Hollywood'section that includes items that guests can touch and experience," she notes.

(Photo by Megan Banks)

Movie props and costumes from some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters such as Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia and popular superhero flicks will be available for people to interact with.

"Film is a family event," says David Fachman of ScareFactory, the special effects design and fabrication studio in Columbus that has made these attractions possible. "If someone wants to hold Katniss' bow from the Hunger Games, they're going to be able to do that," he says.

Family day also will include activities such as face painting, a petting zoo, hands-on art and more.

As the Classic prepares to celebrate its 19th year, Wexner says she is proud that the event has raised $27 million to directly benefit families facing violence in our community. Since the New Albany Classic started in 1998, the Center for Family Safety and Healing has helped 1,400 people facing violence in Central Ohio.