Horse Show Means Money In The Pockets Of Coast Residents

Officials with the Gulf Coast Winter Classic Horse show say the eight-week event will pump about $50 million into the Coast economy. They say the money is generated from tourists spending at places like hotels, restaurants and gas stations. However, businesses aren't the only ones cashing in on the horse show.

For the past two years there have been more horses entered than could be kept at Harrison County Fairgrounds. Local residents have been happy to offer off-site locations for competitors to keep their horses especially since the price for renting stall rentals ranges between $200 to $300 a month.

"It can be quite a bit depending on how many horses you can bring onto your property. It's space that is available," farm owner John Levy said. "You have other horses there but you can make arrangements to move them around a little bit. Anytime you can get extra income it helps."

The people visiting the horse show say renting space on private farms gives the horses a refuge. The horses have more room to roam around away from the stress of competition. Competitors hope putting their money into local pocketbooks will make them even more welcome than they are now.

"People know that when we come to town, there's millions of dollars that come into the community. That helps them to know that we're not just here as bloodsuckers. We're not just tourists. We're here on business and we can help each other," horse show competitor Vick Russell said.

This year about 15 local farms contacted the Winter Classic about taking in borders.  Horse show officials say they are glad the profits from the event are being spread around.

by Danielle Thomas