When it opened to the public in 1978 the Kentucky Horse Park was billed as the only venue of its kind dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. Critics of the $28M project called it a "White Elephant" that would never be anything more than a costly government experiment. But over time, with several major investments, the horse park has become an important part of the state’s economy and a lasting symbol of Kentucky's identification as the horse capital of the world. Now close to forty years later the people who run the park are turning their attention to the future with several visioning sessions. Samantha Lederman attended one such meeting earlier this week and she files this report.
This was the fourth and final such session, and the only one open to the public. Previous sessions were held for members of the Horse Park advisory committee, stakeholders and employees.
Dr Lori Garkovich from the UK College of Agriculture has moderated all the sessions and will be submitting her findings to the Kentucky Horse Park advisory committee sometime in March or April.
We were asked to discuss various questions ranging from suggested improvements, what we appreciate, and how the Park contributes to Lexington and Kentucky. General consensus was that the Park is used and enjoyed by a large number of people for a variety of reasons, not just the equestrian events. However, most people agreed it needs better signage and information available on site. A mobile app and advertising of events were mentioned several times, as well as upgrading the stabling.
Executive Director Laura Pruitt appreciated both the turnout and the input.
Jane Atkinson made a point of attending - she was the Event Director of the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event for 26 years and has a special history with the Park.
Garkovich is the strategic planner for all the sessions and also a long-time volunteer at events at the Park. She will present her findings to the Kentucky Horse Park advisory board in a couple of months time and told WUKY she was delighted with the results of Wednesday night’s open forum.
Everyone agreed that the Horse Park makes a massive contribution to the Central Kentucky area, not just economically but in terms of relevance and recognition throughout the US and even worldwide thanks to the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the international competitions.