Rumors have been flying around social media this week regarding the future of the beloved Kentucky Horse Park. Horse Nation spoke with Park leadership to address the rumors directly.
The Kentucky Horse Park is home to countless equestrian events, a living legacy of legendary racehorses, the Mounted Police, museums and much more. But for most of us, the Kentucky Horse Park (or KHP) is home to the irreplaceable memories we as equestrians have made there. Recently, following a series of open to the public visioning sessions hosted by the Park, rumors have been circulating around social media perpetuating a belief that plans exist to transition the Kentucky Horse Park into an amusement park. We reached out to some key players at the Kentucky Horse Park regarding the rumors.
“At no time has it been discussed that the Kentucky Horse Park would be anything more than the Kentucky Horse Park,” said Laura Prewitt, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park. Prewitt has a deep appreciation for the Park and brings her passion for horses and agriculture to work with her every day. “I am so sorry that so many passionate fans and friends of the Horse Park thought that the rumors were true and hope they can share that same passion they had about maintaining the Park’s purpose towards all of the good things happening now at the Park.”
The source of the rumors was a recent public vision session held by the Kentucky Horse Park, the last of four such sessions and the only session open to the public. The purpose of the sessions was to discuss the future of the park and the level of involvement with the community.
KHP is currently working on ways to increase publicity for the Park and its many programs and extend its reach beyond those who are directly involved in the horse world. The vision meetings included discussion regarding how to increase the “horse” part of the Park, including the shows, museums and programs that are already held there on a regular basis. Additionally, in an attempt to bring outside recognition to the Park’s facilities, KHP regularly holds activities that draw attention from new sources. From rodeos to Rolex, tractor and truck pulls and educational programs, the KHP leadership both new and old want to keep the Park a family-friendly facility that everyone can enjoy.
As an example, Prewitt spoke about a new upcoming event in March, the Man o’ War Celebration, which will honor the legendary racehorse’s 100th birthday. In order to cater to a diverse audience, there will be museum exhibits, a bicycle race, barn tours and more all focused around this iconic and much-loved horse.
Prewitt isn’t the only one who looks forward to the future of the KHP. Nancy Cox, who stands on the KHP Commission as the Chair of Strategic Planning and was a Commission member under the previous administration, is optimistic that the Park can expand on its presence as an iconic equestrian facility. While Cox did state that budget constraints were discussed during the visioning sessions, she clarified that the main strategic goal is to make proper investments to ensure the Park is getting its biggest bang for the buck.
“We want to draw in the community and to hold our stance as an educational and performance center for horses,” said Cox. “Our goal is to remain of service to Lexington, the state, and beyond. That is why the passion our visitors have for the park is so important to us.”
Cox also pointed out that Don Parkinson, who currently serves as the Cabinet Secretary for the Tourism, Arts and Heritage department, along with Deputy Secretary Regina Stivers, are very engaged with the park and all of its activities. “[Parkinson] and his team attend all the Commission meetings and put in a lot of other time assessing the parks facilities.”
Both Prewitt and Cox agreed that the goal of the Kentucky Horse Park is to remain the much-loved facility that it has been for years. New and developing programs would ideally bring in more business for the Park to thrive on and provide entertainment to a variety of interest groups. From Breyerfest to Rolex to its beautiful campgrounds and more, it appears as if the only thing horse lovers should worry themselves about in regards to the Kentucky Horse Park is which of its iconic events or attractions they will visit first.