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Georgetown equine expo to run during WEG

GEORGETOWN — There will be hundreds of equine-related vendors, a nightly performance featuring a famous 3,000-pound buffalo, educational seminars and equine art at the new Equine Expo this fall in Georgetown.

Organizers and city officials are hoping the Kentucky International Equine Expo, Sept. 24 to Oct. 10, will give people one more reason to visit Georgetown.

They're also hoping it will be an attraction for folks who do not plan to attend the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which is expected to lure thousands of international and homegrown guests when it kicks off Sept. 25.

John Simpson, executive director of the Georgetown-Scott County Tourism Commission, said the expo could not only benefit from being held simultaneously to WEG, but would also help Georgetown's annual Festival of the Horse, which begins Oct. 1.

"This event really helps Georgetown put its best foot forward," Simpson said of the Equine Expo. "I'm excited about it. It's just one more thing for people to do in Georgetown."

After the World Equestrian games, the expo will turn into the Kentucky Horse Fair, during Labor Day weekend.

Summer Frost, director of the expo, said the Horse Park has already agreed to host the fair — which is expected to be an annual event — in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The official hotels and restaurants for the fair will be in Georgetown because of the city's proximity to the Horse Park and the number of hotel rooms available, said Frost.

Big-top tents will make the event — at the Factory Stores of America on Outlet Center Drive — visible from Interstate 75. On the property, fiberglass horses will be displayed as part of Mustang Mania.

"The look and feel of what's going to happen here is very upscale," Frost said.

Among activities, local colleges will hold educational and career seminars related to the equine industry, and expo visitors will be able to participate in an international wine tasting featuring a piano player.

The main event, the Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, will at 7 p.m. from Sept. 24 to Oct. 9.

The one-hour show starring buffalo Harvey Wallbanger Jr. costs $10 for adults, $8 for children and $15 for reserved seats.

Guy Brown, who is handling cooperate sponsorships for the expo, said he expects people will need somewhere to rest and get the WEG competitions off their mind.

"We want them to come here to Scott County, to the Georgetown area, to put their heads down and get some great entertainment," Brown said.

Georgetown Mayor Karen Tingle-Sames said police, fire and public works officials are prepared for the crowds because they typically have to be ready for the Festival of the Horse.

She said Scott County residents might have to wait a bit longer in restaurants, and the hotels will be full, but the expo and games shouldn't affect their daily lives too much.

Tingle-Sames said she thinks Georgetown would receive a boost with or without any additional activities because the city's downtown is closer to the Horse Park and the WEG activities than downtown Lexington.