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State funding for Kentucky Horse Park covers competition and casual observer interests

File Photo-Kentucky Horse Park
Stu Johnson
File Photo-Kentucky Horse Park

The Kentucky Horse Park is getting a $39 million shot in the arm. The infusion of state money will impact the almost 50-year-old facility honoring the horse in a variety of ways.

Calling the state funding “transformational,” Horse Park Director Lee Carter said it will touch a lot of things on both the competition and casual visitors’ sides of the park. Carter said it will be used to enhance the draw even more.

“There’s been a large number of equine competition venues that have come online in the last 15 years and just in term of normal tourists. So, I think it’s going to be helpful and impactful,” said Carter.

Carter said the state appropriation will go toward a competition barn replacement, campground improvements, along with restaurant upgrades and modifying the International Museum of the Horse.

That appropriation is included in the just approved state budget. Carter said these dollars come following a $21 million allocation in 2022. But, before that, Carter said the biggest infusion of money came in preparation for the World Equestrian Games at the Horse Park in 2010. The Horse Park director noted there are no current plans to bid on a future WEG event.

“There are a lot of factors involved in that. Corporate support. State support. It’s not something that we’ve really given a whole lot of thought to in terms of what it would take from our communities to do that,” said Carter.

The Horse Park director said he would never say never when it comes to hosting the international event again someday. Carter said there’s not a specific timeline yet for spending the state dollars. Funds will become available in July and Carter added strategic planning is underway.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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