Whew. What a day!
I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon at the World Equestrian Games with a
dear friend today, laugh myself silly, walk my chucks off, spend money on $9 hot dogs and $7 thimbles of beer, and take some pretty fabulous photos.
I'm not going to be pretentious and try to appear as if I know anything about vaulting, jumping, or any of the other events I will never get to see in person, so I'll spare all of us any discussion as to what happened in the competitions today, what has happened in the games in the past week, or what will happen in the closing days of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
I will speak to the existence of such a festival here in our midst, though and tell you without a doubt, the WEG folks have transformed the Kentucky Horse Park into a huge, expansive and expensive playground for equestrian lovers, and it's really something to see, but wow, the prices were ridiculously high.
Having a walk-around to the general grounds ticket was like going to King's Island and not getting to ride the Bea
Or anything else.
However, it was a lovely place to see and be, and Paula and I joked our way across the hundreds of acres we walked to see lots of very cool equine art, hear a nice balladeer sing some Jerry Jeff Walker and I even spotted Dr. Pearse Lyons surrounded by over
joyed school children at one point.
Don't get me wrong.
I love Ken
tucky. I love horses. I love to go to events like this...yet I simply cannot afford entry to the stadiums where all the jumping, the reigning, the posting was going on -- all of that
was off limits to those like me who 'only' paid $25 to get onto the grounds, sans a ticket to any of the competitions ($20 to park, too, lambsies...twenty bucks to park and walk a mile or two just to get on the path to the Village).
Now, I will also admit something else - a lot of people have told me they wish that people would quit complaining about the high prices, but it's hard to ignore (and keep silence) when you're trucking across the hills,
past the Rolex Stadiu
m, through the beer garden, and in and out of the the shops like the one with the $599 boots (although they were pretty magnificent, the boots :) and only able to afford a few snacks and drinks. I didn't even get to buy a souvenir ... couldn't afford one.
I've been to the Derby
. I've been to the Breeders' Cup. Heck, I even went to the World's Fair in New York City (which this sort of reminded me of, except it lacked the charm and appeal and novelty of the World's Fair, of course).
However, even at the Kentucky Derby, you can at least buy a Mint Julep and keep the glass. At the G
ames, well, even if you take lots of dough, you have to spend it all on parking, eating, drinking and the privilege to walk around. You need to save up, though, should you desire to take home a memento o
f the occasion.
At any rate, once we found the hot dogs, popcorn, Kentucky Ale, and Voddy Lemonade stands, we realized that indeed, we were ready to say, 'been there, done that,' -- we'd had enough of the walking and pretending it was okay to be the invisible attendees -- and heck yeah, it was time to point our chucks toward the exit and start the trek back to the car.
Yes, the facilities are incredible. Yes, the horses are splendid. Yes, this is a terrific, monumental, and phenomenal event for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. However, next time something like this is held here, I hope someone -- like our Mayor -- puts some thought into preventing the price-gouging that is going on not only with the hot dog sellers at the Horse Park, but with the taxi drivers and other opportunists who are exploiting the need for food, shelter and transportation that we ought to be hospitable enough to offer our guests without stickin' it to them.
It's just downright rude to charge exorbitant fees an
d fares like those we've seen. If ya want to buy $600 boots, that's one thing, but a $9 hot dog? I figure that's the reason they had to search my wallet sized purse before they let me in -- they wanted to make sure I wasn't sneaking a can of Vienna Sausage in with me, or a Power Bar ... because God forbid anyone be able to bring any affordable sustenance with them. One lady even pleaded that they should let her in with food for her family because it was kosher, and they made her take all of it back to her vehicle ... I not only felt bad for the mother who'd prepared the meals for her kids, I was embarrassed that the volunteers had
to play the heavy in that situation.
It was not Kentucky. It was not hospitable. It was unkind and sort of ugly.
Overall, the Games are a kaleidoscope of sizable inviting venues filled with unique goods and quality competitors, but jacking up the charges and making it so pricey is just not how we roll here in the Bluegrass...that's not how I roll, or my friends or anyone I know treats guests, anyway.
Okay, so I'm sorry
that this blog has turned into a little bit of vinegar when I really wanted it to be all sweetness and light, but the way we treat our global visitors makes its mark not only here in the Bluegrass, but around the world. I guess if you have the funds to compete in equestrian events, the expense is not a factor, though.