In planning for this unprecedented event, it’s natural to look to Aachen, Germany, where the 2006 FEI Games were held, for inspiration. Aachen provided an extensive, open-air cultural program, with five stages set up downtown to host a variety of events, including large outdoor screens that showed nightly videos ranging from live footage and highlights of the Games to videos showcasing the history and legacy of the town of Aachen. Other open-air events included a symphonic rendition of the score for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy; a screening of the film Seabiscuit; comedy shows; late-night jazz; and a variety of nightly world music concerts, ranging from reggae to dub, hip hop, salsa, flamenco, soul, and rock. Additionally, over 200 street acts – artistry, juggling, street theatre and street music – took place at 12 different locations across town to entertain the guests and stimulate the overall entertainment scene.
“What made it work was the Aachen Show Grounds knew the perimeters, knew what they were responsible for and they did it really, really well,” said Long whose interview with Business Lexington Editor-in-Chief Tom Martin appears elsewhere in this edition.
According to Amy Walker, public relations manager for the World Games Foundation, Inc., the Kentucky Horse Park does have some on-site entertainment options planned, including an Equine Pavilion with breed, discipline and horse sport demonstrations in the current covered arena at the Horse Park, and “The Kentucky Experience,” a more than 20,000-square-foot temporary structure to provide “a real taste and flavor of the state;” possible installments could include a Corvette from the Corvette museum, a large replica of Mammoth Cave, bourbon tasting, crafts from Berea, and Kentucky Proud products.
The city of Lexington, however, faces certain challenges that weren’t present in Aachen. For one thing, Soers, the venue for the Games in 2006, was within walking distance to Aachen’s town square. Lexington needs to arrange for a way to transport everyone from the Horse Park to downtown. And much more impending is is the economic challenge Lexington faces with the current state of the economy.
“It’s not the economic situation that we thought we were going to be in three years ago when we bid on the Games. It’s certainly not the situation that we thought we were going to be in two-plus years ago when we won the bid,” said Long.
Ebel said the Special Events committee will be doing fundraising efforts and also looking to private sponsorship to help fund the festival.
“We’re talking about the types of performers that we would like to have and the cost projections, and when you put that together with the in-kind type of services that we are going to be looking at – you know, police and fire, … we could be looking at Ö almost a million dollars worth of a festival,” she said. “Now having said that, we will also then be looking to the community to help us support that festival. We can only do what we have the financial capability of doing. So our fundraising is going to directly relate to what types of entertainment we can bring downtown for the festival.”