Monday, October 08, 2001

Horse show could bring $110M to Columbus

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Thousands of competitors will take away millions of dollars in prizes at this year's All-American Quarter Horse Congress, but the money the event leaves behind is far greater.

        An estimated $110 million will be spent by the roughly half-million people who will participate or watch during the congress, which ends its three-week run at the state fairgrounds on Oct. 21.

        The Greater Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau figures each person will spend about $252 a day on meals, lodging, parking and Western-style clothes and souvenirs, said bureau spokesman Brent LaLonde.

        “They come, they stay a long time, and they spend, spend, spend,” he told The Columbus Dispatch for a story Sunday. “Nothing else that comes to Columbus all year impacts our city as much as the congress.”

        A dispute with the fairgrounds over rent and other matters in 1993 nearly forced the Ohio Quarter Horse Association, which puts on the show, to cut back on the 35-year-old event or move.

        Business leaders are glad the dispute was resolved.

        The occupancy rates at local hotels hit 90 percent during the event, said Bart Hacker, spokesman for the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association.

        Sometimes, riders are forced as far away as Springfield, about 45 miles west, to find rooms.

        “People are coming in from all over the country, and most of them are staying for more than one night,” Mr. Hacker said.


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