WICHITA, Kansas — A popular horseback riding show brings out thousands of people to Wichita every year but people connected to the Equifest of Kansas are worried about the potential competition to the annual event.
“We’re kind of taking a wait and see attitude to see if it will effect us. Hopefully it won’t,” said Johnny Stevens, a Kansas Pavilion partner.
Stevens has been overseeing the Equifest of Kansas event for about three years now. Turnout has been pretty steady but now the state’s largest equine trade show and breed exhibition could be faced with new competition coming from the Kansas Star Casino.
“What their goal is, to get people and spectators and horse people out there and hope they’ll go in and gamble. So if their that’s their business model they can afford to give away space a lot cheaper than we can,” said Stevens.
The general manager for the casino, Scott Cooper, doesn’t believe the addition of their 20,000 square feet equistrian facility will pose much of a threat.
“We’re not in wichita. we’re out from wichita a little bit so I think there’s plenty of room for everybody to service a portion of the market,” said Cooper.
It’s been part of the casino’s plan since the beginning to expand their grounds to bring in more revenue for the state and to become a regional destination.
“We’re going to be building some stalls they accomodates slightly less than 200 horses and we’ll use that for whatever rodeo or equestrian event that we’re hosting there,” said Cooper.
Some vendors that we talked with welcome the idea but say timing is everything.
“I think it would be good for the equistrian industry, but I think they have to be careful not to schedule too closely their events. They need to be very concerned,” said Debra Racheter, the owner of Crest Ridge Saddley.
KSN was told that the casino’s expansion project won’t be done until 2015. The casino’s general manager says before they got te approval to expand they did meet with industry leaders and most were in favor of the expansion.