Thursday, March 24, 2005

Horse show draws estimated 2,000

Staff Writer

Organizers of the third annual Holly Springs Charity Walking Horse Classic estimated turnout for the Saturday night show at approximately 2,000, according to Elton Bray with the Chamber of Commerce horse show committee.

Lisa Liddy with the committee for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, one of the beneficiaries of the show along with the Chamber of Commerce, said about 900 paid tickets were sold. Bray and other organizers estimated between 1,800 and 2,000 spectators witnessed the Charity Walking Horse Classic, many being visitors from other states.

“The event was a tremendous success,” said chamber representative Lisa Cole. “Riders from eight states were represented at this spectacular equestrian competition.”

“I think the show went great,” said Bray. “We had 298 entries and the show made right at $13,000 from the gate and registration fees.”

He said a great volunteer effort again made the big show run smoothly. The weather also cooperated.

“We couldn’t have asked for any better,” said Bray.

The show was made possible by the participation of members of the National Horse Show Commission, Heart of Dixie, Mid-South Walking Horse Association, Mississippi Walking Horse Association, the Racking Horse Breeders Association of America and the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association, he said.

“All together we will donate close to $2,000 to the American Cancer Society and the chamber will keep between $4,000 and $5,000,” Bray said.

Proceeds from the gate and registration helped make up some loss in sponsorship money as compared to last year, Bray said.

The community overall benefitted from the number of out-of-town visitors.

“That’s a plus bringing 1,500 visitors into the community,” he said. “We’d like to thank all the volunteers and all the exhibitors and trainers for coming.”

Liddy agreed.

“I just think it’s wonderful for the community for all the people it brings in,” she said of the horse show.

Trainers and owners traveled to Holly Springs from California, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and Florida, Cole said.

“The town was alive and buzzing with horse trailers, big rigs and Tennessee Walking Horses,” Cole said.

Susan Jordan, director of the Chamber of Commerce, said the event held at the Marshall County Fairgrounds has a major economic impact on the community. She added that the majority of guests stayed in local hotels, ate at local restaurants and fueled up vehicles for their long rides home.

Local girls got an opportunity to enjoy all the pomp and circumstance as ribbon girls. They included Kelsey Shaw, Callie Clanton, Claire Liddy, Olivia Childers, Olivia Clanton, Kelsey Farese, Ashley Forester, Ashley Davis, Rebecca Thompson and Tiffany Thomas.

Maggie Gill from Red Banks sang the National Anthem. Rev. Curtis Ferrell provided the invocation.

Show officials included chairman Susan Jordan, secretary Shirley Cato, judge Terry Stone, master of ceremonies Doug Farley, ringmaster Mike Farley, farrier Mike Umberger, paddock master Elton Bray, veterinarian Willow Bend Animal Clinic and Sid Abernathy, photographer.

Fitch Farms provided for the Hospitality Room.

One local winner called in to the newspaper office was Kristin Williams of Holly Springs. The 2003 Marshall Academy graduate participated in the Amateur 4-year-old Mare and Gelding Class with her horse, The Polar Express, and they won first place. It was just the second time the two had competed, the first being in Starkville, and both have resulted in victories.

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