Sunday dawned grey and cloudy, but that didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for the 39th annual Point to Point on the beautiful grounds of the Winterthur estate in the Brandywine Valley. The event usually marks the turning point of spring, but while the buttercups and bluebells were in full bloom, the weather didn’t cooperate, bringing intermittent showers of rain and gusts of wind. Nonetheless, spectators insisted on sundresses, summer hats and the occasional pair of rain boots as they spent an afternoon tailgating, picnicking and cheering on the horses.
One prominent face missing from the day’s activities was George A. “Frolic” Weymouth, the founder of the antique carriage parade who passed away last year. Weymouth, an artist who spent most of his life in Chadds Ford, once told The Philadelphia Inquirer, “I don’t know anything but painting pictures and being on a horse.” Add to that his passion for conservation and it’s no wonder he took such an interest in carriages.
Along with founding the carriage parade at Point to Point, Weymouth had a collection of antique carriages that numbered in the dozens, drove his four horse team regularly around the Brandywine Valley, and served as a whip in England, France, Vermont, New York City and beyond.
On Sunday, Weymouth’s longtime friend and fellow whip John Frazier Hunt proudly led the carriages along the racecourse, carrying on the tradition begun nearly 40 years ago. Joining him were two dozen carriages from places as diverse as Florida, West Virginia, Wisconsin and our own Delaware Valley. Featured carriages dated back to the late 1800s and were drawn by well-groomed pairs and teams of horses, and in at least one case, a pony determined to make it on its own. In a recent interview concerning his friend, John Frazier Hunt reportedly said he was honored to lead the parade as its new Chairman. “This is my 25th year of never missing one of these weekends,” he says.
In addition to his interest in antique carriages, through his life, Weymouth was a polo player and steeplechaser, as well as a painter, a friend to Andrew Wyeth, and a passionate conservationist. Spurred by love for his painstakingly restored Chadds Ford home, Weymouth spearheaded the movement that became the Brandywine Conservancy, which is now one of the largest land trusts in the country and protects over 62,000 acres in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
A conservationist, artist and lifelong horseman, George “Frolic” Weymouth will be greatly missed by those who knew him, but at least on Sunday, in the highly polished carriages and immaculately groomed horses, one small part of his spirit lived on.