Georgetown is ready to lure its share of visitors during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games with new events, including an equine expo, and other attractions.
City and Scott County leaders expect busy restaurants, equestrians at hotels and tourists downtown who'll come from the Kentucky Horse Park.
The Horse Park is closer to Georgetown (7.41 miles) than to Lexington (8.59 miles), and 171 of its 1,200 acres are in Scott County.
International equestrian teams have booked rooms in several hotels, said John Simpson, executive director of the Georgetown-Scott County Tourism Commission.
"I think we will see more traffic than normal in town," Simpson said. "But I don't anticipate it being overwhelming."
The tourism commission has spent a little more than $100,000 preparing for the Games. That included money for a booth at the Horse Park, where tourism brochures and event information will be distributed, and new signs, benches for downtown, and U.S. and international flags.
The Toyota plant might be a popular Scott County attraction. The plant requests that people interested in tours call to make reservations, Toyota spokesman Rick Hesterberg said. About 25,000 people visit the plant each year.
Tours are available Monday through Friday at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Evening tours are available during the Games, at 5 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. from Monday through Oct. 8.
Georgetown's 30th annual Festival of the Horse will be Oct. 1 through 3 downtown. Most events, including a Colt and Filly Children's Parade, live entertainment and the Grand Horse Parade, are free.
The festival, which generally is held on East Main Street, has been extended two blocks to West Main Street and to Water Street, said Martha Tirlea, president of the Downtown Association.
"We really tried to do that last year and we weren't able to," Tirlea said. "The festival is getting bigger, and space is limited down here."
At least 33,000 people are expected to attend the festival.
New events, more hours
Georgetown businesses are looking for other ways to draw tourists. On Saturday on Main and Hamilton streets in Georgetown, there will be a sidewalk sale. And several businesses and restaurants downtown are extending their hours during the Games, Tirlea said.
The Georgetown Equine Expo, a new event, will start Friday, a day before the Games, and run through Oct. 10. The expo will be held at Factory Stores of America at 401 Outlet Center Drive, less than five miles from the Horse Park.
Cynthia Grisolia, a spokeswoman for the expo, said the "little festival down the street" will be an affordable, family-friendly alternative to the Games.
Open from noon to 10 p.m. each day, it will feature 60 national and international equine vendors. There will be nightly entertainment and special events, including Buffalo TC's Wild West Adventure Show, which features Harvey Wallbanger Jr., a 2,600-pound bison; the Mustang Mania art exhibit; and free pony rides.
Tickets to an equine event each evening, including the Wild West Adventure show, are $20 for adults and $10 for children younger than 12. There is no charge for children 5 and younger. Discounted advance tickets are available.
Old Friends Thoroughbred retirement farm in Georgetown will have a "Gallery of Moneighs" benefit for the farm on Sept. 29 at the Georgetown Equine Expo. On display for sale will be "Moneighs" created by former champions now pensioned at Old Friends, using their muzzles, tails and hooves.
No better place
Georgetown Mayor Karen Tingle-Sames said she thinks the economic boost to the city will be similar to having the Cincinnati Bengals in town.
"We're looking forward to some of the visitors at the Horse Park coming to Scott County," Tingle-Sames said. "We'll feel some of the energy in the air."
Scott County Judge-Executive George Lusby said it's impossible to say in advance what the Games will do for the community economically. But Lusby wants visitors to fall in love with the county that he refers to as the "greatest place in the world to live."
"It would be difficult to go anywhere and find a better place to live," Lusby said.