Winter Classic Organizers Look to the Future

The Winter Classic horse show ends this weekend and those who participated will be packing up for home soon. During the past eight weeks the horse show has attracted thousands of people to the Gulf Coast. Organizers say even as they close the book on this year's event, they're already gearing up for next year. About four thousand people participated in the horse show during its eight week run. Organizers say that's a 25 percent increase but they want to grow even more and that takes planning.

Co-chairperson Janet McCarroll said "If we were staying the same, we could all go home and relax but we're not. We're going to get bigger and better one more time, and that's a lot of work"

Organizers say competitors can expect some changes. First the event will be shorter. This year the horse show was an eight weeks event which would include one week off. Next year it will run seven weeks straight through. The second change is that no one will have to have a ringside seat to catch the action. The Winter Classic will be nationally televised on Fox Sports.Whatever the changes, organizers say what won't change is their commitment to putting on a quality event.

"I think the event over the last few years has gained its credibility with the hunter and jumpers..the people and.the exhibitors," said Bob Bell, co-chairperson. "Now they can't wait to get back down here again. They already know that the Gulf is the best kept secret in the South."

Organizers say they're hoping to increase the amount of prize money given out from 700 thousand dollars to one million dollars.

by Danielle Thomas