Kentucky is top-of-the-line
in many things: horse breeding, bourbon and bluegrass music. This fall
it adds to that list, becoming the first American city to host the
Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games "” never before staged outside of
On a visit to Europe 14 years ago, John
Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park, decided it
was time to bring the Games home to the Commonwealth. Vision becomes
reality September 25 to October 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park in
Surpassing the Super Bowl
jumping and dressage are just part of the stunning competition between
the world's top equestrians and spectacular horses a mere 90 miles
south of Cincinnati.
"The World Equestrian
Games are going to be the largest sporting event in U.S. history, even
larger than the Super Bowl," says Cindy Rullman, the Horse Park's
associate director of marketing and public relations. Nearly 800
athletes and 900 horses from 60 countries are expected.
"It will be the largest trans-Atlantic transport of horses since D-Day," says Susanna Elliott, who is in charge of public relations for the Games.
are available at www.alltechfeigames.com, and that's only the beginning
of places to go and stops to make along the way.
the Games may be quite unfamiliar to many Americans, it is important to
understand their prestige as a world event, Rullman says.
In addition to world-class athletes, we're talking royalty.
are members of royal families from many countries, including former
equestrian competitor HRH Princess Haya of the United Arab Emirates. The princess, recently
announced as global patron of the World Academy of Sport, is FEI
president. She has praised the host of this year's games, calling
Kentucky "truly horse country. Without exception, wherever the horse
has made his home, he has done so in a place where the country is
beautiful and the people are warm and generous. This is true of
Kentucky, perhaps more so than any other place on earth."
hosting the Games in 2014, will have a presence at the Kentucky event
including wine and cheese tastings and an exhibit.
Culture of the Commonwealth
horse lovers, the Games, held every four years, are more important than
the Olympics. Competitions include combined driving, dressage,
endurance riding, para-equestrianism, reining, show jumping and
vaulting. Horses and riders are judged on a number of athletic skills
from combinations of movement, gaits, style, accuracy, harmony, ease of
movement, paces, fitness, control and training. Spectators may buy
tickets for individual events, at a cost of between $25 and $30.
"The beauty of the Games is that you don't have to know anything about horses to enjoy the experience," Rullman says.
the Games in one venue is a real plus. "The Horse Park is 1,200 acres,
which is big," Elliott says, so it's the first time the Games can hold
all the competitions in one location.
sales are expected to be around 600,000, and the profit is estimated to
reach nearly $1.7 million. Additionally, thousands more visitors will
participate in a series of statewide celebrations and festivals.
stresses that the Bluegrass State is full of diversity and culture and
encourages visitors to venture outside the park gates to explore
about the economic impact on a larger scale," Elliott says. "People
will come here from all over the world and tell friends and family
about their trip to Kentucky. Maybe they'll want to come back to visit,
or think about starting a business here."
25 miles south, visitors can sample the wine at Jean Ferris Winery
& Bistro. The local wines complement Kentucky cooking, including
the country ham wrapped around a succulent pork chop. The food is
locally obtained, which enhances the experience, owner Jeanie O'Daniel
There's so much more "” wonderful parks, fabulous music, rich history.
Besides the Horse Park, there are plenty of other ways tourists can enjoy the culture.