Officials and competitors reflect on 20th Gulf Coast Winter Classics

Officials and competitors reflect on 20th Gulf Coast Winter Classics
A wet year for Gulf Coast Winter Classics

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - While many competitors were busy packing up the stables, there were still a few events to complete at the 20th annual Gulf Coast Winter Classics.

Wet weather may have kept some of the spectators at home, but officials say it was still a success.

"We've had a little bit more rain than we probably would have liked," said event coordinator Janet McCarroll. "But we are an outdoor sport so we're prepared for it and we just tough it up and keep going."

McCarroll says nearly 5,000 competitors took part in this year's event, vying for more than one million dollars in prizes.

With that number of participants, the economic impact is great.

"When we're at full capacity we project that our impact is about 43 million," McCarroll said.

The Gulf Coast Winter Classics is being recognized as one of the top shows in the country.

"In our industry there are some really special awards," she said. "One is given out by the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame. And right now we've been named one of the top six International Hunter Derbies in the Country which is very prestigious."

It's that award that McCarroll hopes will entice more competitors to come out for the next 20 years of Gulf Coast Winter Classics.

Anna Marie Mayes travels down from Memphis for this event. She says the people are her favorite part. "I enjoy it because the faculty is so nice," Mayes said. "I love all the ring gate masters, and Janet of course, and everyone that's here. It's just like very homey and you just want to stay. You don't want to leave."

That's the kind of reaction McCarroll hopes will keep the Winter Classics a top show for many more years.

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