New faces help Gulf Coast Winter Classic succeed, despite economy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New faces help Gulf Coast Winter Classic succeed, despite economy

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The economic downturn doesn't seem to be keeping people away from the Gulf Coast Winter Classic. This is now the final week of the six week Harrison County equestrian competition. Organizers say so far participation is holding steady.

Four-year-old Emma Rheinheimer blew plenty of kisses to the crowd at the Gulf Coast Winter Classic. Her family said they suggest all their horse loving friends come to Mississippi.

"I always say Gulfport," said Cathy Rheinheimer. "We've brought a lot of people. We have a lot of people here from Indiana this year that have come down because we have talked them into it."

Organizers say friends telling friends about the Winter Classic has brought in a lot of new faces this year, which has offset the riders who didn't come back as travel budgets get tighter.

"We're lucky that we're getting them," said Janet McCarroll, one of the organizers. "There are limited dollars and there are a lot of places they can go with the two circuits in Florida, Arizona, California

"We work really hard to make it a good event. We advertise, but good word-of-mouth is the best advertisement you can get and we are certainly getting that."

Participants say when they're deciding which equestrian competitions to attend, the Gulf Coast Winter Classic has a lot of advantages.

"It's kind of close to my hometown," said Beate Kuska-Shart, who lives in Franklin, Tennessee. "If I like the show once, I will always repeat and go back there."

"The people," said Sherry Sims of Houston, Texas. "We love Mississippi. The people are so nice and kind. The hospitality, the show management is wonderful. This grass field, there's not many in the county like this. "

The Gulf Coast Winter Classic wraps up next weekend.

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