The Kentucky Derby and Keeneland are known equestrian economic drivers in the state. We’d like to add another name to that list: The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.
This year’s event, April 26-29, marks the 40th anniversary of the World Three-Day Event Championships, which developed into the Kentucky Three-Day Event, one of the world’s most prestigious and popular equestrian events. This event has happened every spring at the Kentucky Horse Park in some form and attracts the eyes, hearts and dollars of fans nationally and internationally.
In 2017, the 80,000-plus spectators who came specifically for the Kentucky Three-Day Event hailed from all 50 states and more than a dozen countries. More than 80 percent were from outside Kentucky and 35 percent had attended the event for more than six years.
Just under 70 percent stayed for three nights or more with an average daily spending of $244, resulting in an economic impact of $14.2 million, based on a study conducted by the University of Kentucky.
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It’s a great pleasure for the people and businesses in Central Kentucky to welcome riders and fans from across the globe to the Kentucky Horse Park. Surrounding hotels, restaurants and shops all benefit from the business generated and have come to know the fans and competitors as friends over the years.
Initially established to produce the 1978 championships, Equestrian Events, Inc., a non-profit charitable Kentucky corporation, is a leader among the equestrian event-management companies. With offices at the Kentucky Horse Park and with staff and board members located throughout Central Kentucky, its formal mission is to create competition opportunities to help prepare the U.S. equestrian team to compete worldwide.
This year’s event offers competitors $400,000 in prize money and will be a qualifying selection trial for the U.S. eventing team, which will later compete in the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games.
EEI also has a long history of making financial contributions to charities that support local human and equine interests and that serve Lexington and the commonwealth. Over the years, it has also made many financial contributions to charities that support local human and equine organizations. Since 2011, EEI has donated over $900,000 to local charities, including the University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital, Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, Georgetown College, Midway University and the American Diabetes Association.
Additionally, the Kentucky Horse Park and Kentucky Horse Park Foundation have received more than $1 million in gifts and contributions from EEI over the last 40 years.
As we mark this anniversary, it is a good time to recognize EEI and its success in bringing more people to the Kentucky Horse Park than any other organization and what it has done to boost the local and statewide economies.
Mary Quinn Ramer is president of VisitLEX.