Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another Trade Show and First Impressions

There is still over a year to go until the World Equestrian Games will be held in Lexington. Massive plans are being laid for an extravaganza at the Horse Park and the City is hatching a scheme to lure all the visitors downtown for a festival and ... uh... uh... some other ways to get them to part with their money.

It used to be that when events happened downtown and crowds would gather, that the local merchants and even street vendors could expect a rise in foot traffic and sales. It was every man for himself and all stood to gain. Unfortunately that also applied to the thieves and pickpockets that worked the crowds. This event, or festival, will be different in that the City will control just about all aspects of the downtown streets for those sixteen days. All the street vendors, musicians and artisans will be regulated by the City and woe to all the out-of-towners who decide at the last minute to arrive to test the waters.

There will be an equestrian trade show at the Horse Park for all the owners, participants and fans to buy the latest horse related goodies and the newest products. Hopefully there will also be some Lexington themed souvenirs by which they can remember their trip. At $12,000 per sales booth, these will be some high end sales places.

Now there will also be another trade show, downtown in the Lexington Center, either aimed at the visitors (when they get downtown) or those who cannot get to the Horse Park. This show appears to be for the lesser participants and/or the locals.

All this has caused me to wonder how all these plans and proposals will benefit me directly, in other words, how will my income increase during these sixteen days? Will there be money flowing liberally and how can I intercept some of it? I am starting to feel that I shan't see a significant difference at all and if the past few Fourth of July parades and festivities are any indication the downtown will be overrun with all kind of folk looking for something cheap.

My worst fear is that the Europeans will arrive hoping for some semblance of civility and decent transportation services and we will be found lacking, in one if not both. Getting people from the venue to downtown for re-medaling ceremonies will be a monumental chore. There is a railroad track, shown on all the maps, that runs in a straight line, from downtown to within a few kilometers of the Horse Park entrance. How do you tell a European that there is no passenger service on that line? Not from downtown, a short distance, nor from Cincinnati and Louisville, both medium distances. Parking will be at a premium, both at the Horse Park and downtown, for personal autos and rentals.

Many people fear that we will get a black eye due to a vacant city block, yet it would have been far worse if it was a decrepit, mostly vacant block, that looked nothing like what their historic buildings are. There is currently a surge of remodeling and new businesses in the downtown area which is unusual for an economic downturn and I hope that both they and our visitors can last through the Games.

I have been involved in many of the past "landmark" events of the '80s and '90s and I would like to sit this one out for the most part and just pick up a few memories from the sidelines. I hpoe that I don't have to say that "I told you so".

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