TRAVERSE CITY — Organizers of Horse Shows by the Bay said the nearly month-long July event brought in more than $15 million to the northern Michigan economy.
“It was our best yet,” said Alexandra “Alex” Rheinheimer, Horse Shows’ owner and operator. “The number of horses on the grounds were the most we ever had, along with the most people we’ve ever had. In terms of numbers, it was the best season to date.”
The decade-old event draws thousands of the country’s elite horses, riders and trainers to northern Michigan to compete for cash prizes totaling $600,000 awarded over the four weeks. It also includes amateur riders of all ages.
The show is located at the 84-acre Flintfields Horse Park just east of Williamsburg.
Organizers estimate three people attend the event for each horse registered. Each person spends an average $250 per day on expenses, meals, entertainment and lodging. A press release issued by organizers also states the show hosted a record 1,355 competing horses and employed more than 20 part-time local staffers.
Six full-time local employees are also on site for six months of the year.
Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau President Brad Van Dommelen said Horse Shows by the Bay is a huge asset to the region.
“It exposes us as a destination to to people from outside of the region who have come here and discovered the area through horse shows,” Van Dommelen said. “It’s great in helping us brand us as a destination for equestrian events. Some stay for weeks. From what I’ve seen and heard throughout community, they don’t just come and go from their hotel room to and from Flintfields. They go to restaurants retail shops and other entertainment outlets -- golfing and charter fishing.”
Rheinheimer said organizers will look at ways to better accommodate participants next year so they have more time to enjoy the Traverse City area after each day’s events.
“We are looking at the schedule for next season on a daily basis to help participants get back into town earlier,” she said.