Top 5 reasons to enjoy Games
As a former Lexington resident, I had the pleasure of returning home to cover the first week of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games for American Cowboy magazine and was blown away by the experience. If you haven't been out to the games yet, here are my top five reasons to go:
The competition: World-class equestrians competing at the highest levels, plus stories like the rider from Spain who won the endurance competition weeks after giving birth, have made fans out of even those who only follow horses on the first Saturday in May.
The volunteers: Everywhere you turn, there's a blue-shirted volunteer ready to cheerfully point you in the right direction. I met many local volunteers, and just as many from out of state. They are the willing troops who keep the games running.
LexTran: Shuttles are the best deal going. Affordable, on time, clean and never overly crowded. Plus, you can strike up interesting conversations.
The grounds: Many complain that the grounds are too spread out, but it keeps the park from feeling overly crowded. There are plenty of shuttles for people who need help getting around, and I discovered many interesting exhibits by walking that I never would have seen otherwise. And it's good exercise.
The hospitality: Southern hospitality may be a tired cliche, but I'm here to tell you it's alive and well in and around the Games. I've never been more proud to call myself a Kentuckian.
Tom Wilmes Jr.
I was so excited to hear that the Lexington Philharmonic would be at the Courthouse Plaza Sunday that I left an hour early in order to get a decent parking place.
I knew several events were taking place that evening, and I did not want to get lost in the crowd. I was pleased to find a spot only two blocks from the plaza and that only a few older patrons had set up their seating near the stage.
I became concerned when, at five minutes after 7 p.m., the Philharmonic had yet to appear. I happened to catch some parks department workers as they were passing by to inquire about the delay. I was told it was too cold outside for the Philharmonic to play so it canceled. What a disappointment. I found it quite selfish of the Philharmonic to cancel with so little notice.
It was not too cold for me, it was not too cold for all the others who sat anxiously waiting and it was not too cold for the "pop band" that appeared onstage in place of the Philharmonic. I did not go downtown to hear rock 'n' roll, and since other tents and exhibits were abandoned and the rest of downtown deserted, I returned home.
I've lost faith in the Philharmonic and the city, and will not plan to attend the festivities for fear I will waste my time again.
Mark H. Wallace
I have been volunteering nearly every day since a week before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games opened.
I'm a senior citizen who was drifting toward the plump. I am plump no more and quite delighted about that. I have walked so much every day and have surprised myself at how great I feel. I also know which of my shoes are actually the comfortable ones.
I am so proud to be a part of this experience. It is way beyond anything I'd imagined. There is so much to see and do, and most of it is available for the price of a $25 grounds pass. Kids under 12 are free.
Kentucky, be proud of what has been accomplished here. It is amazing. There is something for everyone. You can stroll leisurely through the exhibits and rarely feel crowded. The feared traffic jams are non-existent.
Congrats, too, to LexTran for doing a bang-up job. Any time someone complains about the $20 parking fee, I inform them of LexTran's $2 round trip fare. Can't beat that.
The athletes are friendly and accessible. The horses are the most beautiful in the world. Everywhere you look there are smiles. Some express amazement that Kentucky could pull this together. I never doubted it.
I urge everyone to spend at least one day being part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Kentuckians who see it for themselves will be proud of their state like never before. Oh, and don't forget your camera.
I am so embarrassed at the fleecing of equestrians and guests by the hotels in your city. It is an embarrassment for your city and state.
I am attending several of the events and bringing a guest. We will make the drive home after dark because I will not be a party to the horrid practice of raising prices when guests come to town.
At the Marriott, which is a very nice place, the price was $600-plus. There is not a hotel in Kentucky worth $600 a night. I stayed in the Westin in downtown Seattle for half that price.
The Marriott is not alone in this; all motels and hotels I checked were high-priced. I know, as I have stayed in Lexington many times.
I make this apology to all who attend the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and assure them we, while a poor state, do not treat all our guests in this manner.
Many people refer to Lexington as the Horse Capital of the World, and that may very well be true.
But I would like to add another title to Lexington's distinction and that would be, "Welcome to the Surgical Center of the World," where you are charged an arm and a leg to stay in a hotel or motel in the surrounding areas while the Alltech FEI World Equestrians Games are in full operation.
When gasoline was at a premium not too long ago, the state checked on price gouging. Maybe it ought to do the same in regards to lodging.