Kentucky Three-Day Event Has $14.2 Million Economic Impact

Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti at the 2017 Kentucky Three-Day Event. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

It’s called the “Best Weekend All Year” for a reason. A recent study from the University of Kentucky found that last year’s Kentucky Three-Day Event resulted in a $14.2 million impact on Kentucky’s economy.

More than 80,000 spectators from all 50 states attended the Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2017. More than 80% of those who attended the event traveled from states outside Kentucky, and 35% were recurring visitors who had attended the event for more than six years. Just under 70% of visitors stayed for three nights or more during the event and spent $244 per day.

Mary Quinn Ramer, president of Visit Lex, said the event “is a sell-out weekend for Lexington’s hospitality community. It’s always a great pleasure to welcome riders and fans from across the globe to the Kentucky Horse Park every April. Our hotels, restaurants, and shops all appreciate the business generated during the three-day event and have come to know the fans and competitors as friends over the years.”

Lori Saunders, executive director of Georgetown/Scott County Tourism, said the event “has always been one of the busiest weekends in Georgetown. All of our lodging options are booked to capacity, and many of the event guests visit our location attractions. From our downtown shops and galleries to places like Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center, our community definitely feels the impact of this world-renowned event.”

While the local economy gets a big boost from the Kentucky Three-Day Event each year, charitable organizations also benefit from the mammoth impact of the competition. Equestrian Events Inc., the non-profit that organizes the event, has donated over $900,000 to local charities, such as New Vocations, Equine Land Conservation Resource and Kentucky Equine Humane Center.

The Kentucky Horse Park and Kentucky Horse Park Foundation have received more than $1 million in gifts and contributions from Equestrian Events Inc. over the last 40 years.

“A big part of our mission here at Equestrian Events is to donate to charities both local and national, equine and human,” Stewart Perry, president of the EEI Board of Directors, said. “We’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful, lasting relationship with the community, and it’s very important to us that we, in return, support the community that does so much for others in need. It brings us great joy to be able to give back to the community and support so many wonderful charities.”

The event has also named an “Official Charity of the Year” since 2014 to raise awareness and financial support for a local charity. Past charities have included Central Kentucky Riding for Hope in 2017, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance in 2016, Horses and Hope in 2015, and Partners For Youth in 2014. The 2018 Official Charity of the Year has not yet been named.

Other fundraising efforts during the event also benefit the Official Charity. The fourth annual “Head Up Heels Down 5K” will take place on Friday, April 27 at this year’s event, with a portion of proceeds benefitting the Official Charity. Riders competing at the event also visit the University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital to spend time with patients undergoing treatment.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1978 World Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park, which developed into the Kentucky Three-Day Event. The Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event will be held April 26-29, 2018. Will you be there? Let us know in the poll below!

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