In the previous two articles, the nature of the equine industry and the impact of equine expositions was explored along with an overview of what it takes to create and host a large equine exposition that brings in “big names and big companies” to help draw attendance through the gate. In short, it takes lots of hard work, months of planning and quite a deal of money all before the first ticket is sold.
The equine exposition is an essential part of the equine industry. Incredible learning opportunities happen at these events. Clinicians, health care and industry professionals are on hand to share the latest trends, products, knowledge, and services available. Craftspeople, clubs, breed associations, and other “horse focused” organizations are on hand to inspire and educate other active equestrians. These opportunities encourage the much-needed exchanges, growth, and commerce essential to keeping the equine industry healthy, vibrant and on the path to recovery from the economic downturn that greatly reduced the solvency of the industry. Everyone needs equine expositions.
Yet, with the rising costs of hosting, participating and attending these events, many of the “big shows” are seeing a drastic downturn in ticket sales, available exhibitors and attending clinicians. Many of the national/international equine expositions are facing some very hard choices. They have to make drastic changes in order to stay viable. These changes are often met with resistance and strong emotions from exhibitors, clinicians, and attendees. So what is the future of the equine exposition? How does this valuable and much-needed part of the equine industry meet the needs of all those individuals and businesses who need the equine exposition in order to stay in touch with what is happening? There is no “one right answer” that can miraculously “fix the downward spiral” but there are courses of action that can stave off the damage and the demise of the equine exposition.
One such course of action is to “go regional” and create smaller events that focus on the equine industry and community in a region. It could be a county or a group of states. These would be more “music festival” and less “stadium filling rock concerts” in nature, look and feel. They would be held at more cost-effective venues and bring in quality, regional “talent” (clinicians, health care professionals, and service providers) to help bring those valued learning opportunities to the attendees. They would reach out to the smaller businesses, as well as national brands, that support the equine and rural lifestyle in the region to have them exhibit their products and services for attendees. Local restaurants and food trucks could be brought in to celebrate the unique flavor of the region. Exhibitor booths and ticket prices would be kept at cost-effective price point levels as well to encourage and support participation and attendance.
By changing the “feel” of the event, the exposition organizers can create a unique experience that provides everyone with the opportunities they need and want. Of course, the challenges are keeping the event profitable (you need profits to pay for the event itself and to help it grow) and getting the support from businesses and attendees which make the event viable. To make an event like this successful takes real commitment from everyone involved. Is it risky? Certainly. Is it an opportunity to create something new and revitalize the concept of the equine exposition? Most assuredly. So the question is “Is the risk worth the reward?” The only way to find out for sure is to invest in the creation of such a celebration and see what happens!
Well, someone is doing just that - taking a risk and seeing if it is worth the reward. EQUUS FEST is happening on February 24, 2019, at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. There will be Clinicians from the region, bringing their unique approaches, disciplines and teaching styles to attendees through demonstrations, mini-clinics, and discussions. There will be two indoor buildings and an outdoor “exhibitor festival area” filled with unique businesses and services providers for attendees to shop with and learn from. There will be food from the region’s best mobile food vendors to tempt the taste buds of attendees and much more.
This one-day event is offering cost-effective tickets and even giving free passes to children 12 and under. The organizers of EQUUS FEST feel that it is worth the risk and are investing their own money into creating a regional level event that will enrich the equine and rural lifestyle community. They are currently seeing some great support from the regional talent and industry. If attendance is good, the community could expect EQUUS FEST to be an annual happening. Keeping true to the concept of a “regional celebration of all things horse” and managing the growth potential of the event itself is a welcomed challenge that the event organizers embrace whole heartedly. If you are in the El Dorado County area of California on February 24, 2019, be sure to stop by EQUUS FEST and enjoy the celebration.
This is just one such effort being made by individuals across the nation to keep the concept of the equine exposition alive and well, even if it means taking risks. Investing personal funds and creating something that has not been experienced before. Equine expositions are essential. Yet, to stay viable they must change and adapt to provide the cost-effective and intimate experiences that the equine/rural lifestyle community and industry needs to order to continue on the path of recovery. So, if you hear about a local “expo” happening in your area make time to support it as best you can. Your support is what will keep these much-needed events alive and valuable.
Thanks for reading.