The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair is a lot of things to a lot people, and that makes sense for an event that began its 115th season Thursday.

It will run through June 5, and by the conclusion many families will have revisited an annual tradition of watching magnificent animals and courageous and skilled riders.

Families have been making the yearly treks to Devon for decades.

Jean Purdy, 51, of Bernville in Berks County, grew up at the show. Formerly of Buckingham in Bucks County, Purdy recalls showing horses as a 4-year-old and being too scared to stay on the animal.

"My father walked the pony in the ring and turned around, and there was no rider on it - here I had jumped off it," said Purdy, who attended Thursday with daughter Madison, 13, and dog Corey.

"I was shy as a child, and the crowd scared me as soon as I went to the Dixon Oval, and I got stage fright and ran."

Eventually she was put back on the horse and got through her fright, and since then Purdy has been hooked.

"It's a tradition and family thing we have done for years," she said.

Ted Adelberger of Berwyn, 78, estimates he has been attending Devon for 60 years. But Thursday was a special day for him and his wife, Joyce. That's because they watched their granddaughter Kendell Adelberger, a 17-year-old senior at Sun Valley High School, compete in the Dixon Oval (the main ring) for the first time.

Kendell Adelberger didn't finish among the leaders, but she and her horse completed the routine by clearing every jump.

"This is a great day," Ted Adelberger said.

That was echoed by his son Ken, Kendell's father. Ken Adelberger admitted that it took some time to relax when watching his daughter compete.

"I am not as nervous as I used to be," he said. "I am confident in Kendell."

And while Kendell competed with cool confidence, she admitted to feeling the enormity of the event.

"I was so nervous," she said. "It is Devon, where champions compete."

And where families meet.

Kendell was introduced to the sport by her grandmother Kathy Gillmer, who once rode at Devon and has been the horse show secretary for the last quarter-century.

The family has even more ties to the event. Before the Monday evening competition at Devon, Jordan Adelberger, Kendell's 20-year-old sister, who just completed her sophomore year at Loyola Marymount, will sing the national anthem. It will be the seventh time she has performed that task.

Whether it's competing, watching, or singing, Devon has brought many families together. That's just one reason it has become such a local staple for well over a century.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com, or @sjnard on Twitter.