Plans for Games' downtown festival outlined

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry unveiled the broad outline Wednesday for the Spotlight Lexington Festival — 17 days of music and special events that will coincide with the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

The festival will begin on Sept. 24, 2010, the day before the Games start, and will provide afternoon and evening entertainment, arts and crafts, and children's activities at three sites downtown for those who attend the Games and those who can't.

Newberry said the festival would be "an unparalleled opportunity" to show off Lexington to thousands of visitors from other states and countries. Crowds at the Games are expected to total 30,000 to 65,000 a day through Oct. 10, 2010.

The Spotlight festival will include "remedaling" ceremonies for competitors who win medals in WEG events. Those ceremonies will be shown on large television screens at the Fayette County Courthouse plaza and Cheapside and Triangle parks, the festival's three main sites.

Other festival highlights will include a 12-foot-high framed horse topiary of plants and flowers. Even the city's mounted police horses will be decked out in Spotlight Lexington saddle pads.

There also will be lines of Spotlight Lexington merchandise for sale downtown and around the community.

Newberry said organizers hope the festival will become an annual event, a legacy of the Games that will begin in 18 months.

The festival will cost $800,000 to $1 million, but no taxpayer money will be involved, said Carolyn Richardson, chair of the Games Host Committee. The money will be contributed by private or corporate sponsors.

Newberry said potential sponsors are being contacted and that he expects to have announcements in the near future.

Games officials are also seeking corporate sponsors to put up nearly $30 million of the Games' $76.4 million budget, but Newberry said there would be little conflict between the two fund-raising efforts.

The "target audience" for the Games and the festival are different, he said, although "it's conceivable there could be some overlap."

Officials also called for entertainers, especially musicians, and community volunteers to begin signing up to participate in the festival at the local government's Web site: Click on the "2010 WEG" logo at the site.