Wednesday, Lexington will be one month away from the World Equestrian Games. They happen once every four years, and this is the first time they're being held outside of Europe.
Is Lexington ready? You can still see a lot of work going on in downtown Lexington and at the Horse Park, where, for the first time ever, the events will be held at only one location.
For a lot of businesses downtown, they've had to take the bad with the good. Heavy construction hasn't been the most inviting thing for customers in recent weeks, but as September 25th approaches, Bellini's owner, Giancarlo Marletta is already preparing for a huge spike in business. "Well, one thing we're going to staff up some extra people, and we're going to hopefully double the size of our patio with this new extended sidewalk, so I think those things will help service the new customers," Marletta said.
At the Kentucky Horse Park, the work is nearly round the clock. "All of the build out at the Kentucky Horse Park is really starting to take shape," spokesperson for the Games Amy Walker said, "We've got more than 300 temporary structures going up right now. Our athletes and our competitors are getting ready to come , so things are really coming into the final process as we get ready to host the world in just four weeks."
Organizers with the World Equestrian Games say they realize the impact of the competition extends far beyond the park. "We have been talking about this event and its impact on Lexington and on Kentucky for a long time," Walker said, "and we've been planning this on paper for a long time, so I think everybody's starting to catch the excitement because after so many years of talking about it, it's finally here."
From hotels to area restaurants, many are hoping the Games will serve as a spark that will bring new attention to the community that will continue long after the Games have come and gone. "That's the goal, yeah," Marletta said, "This is basically getting it all started."
One thing that has definitely started is demand for event tickets. Officials with the Games say the best seats for at least one competition have already sold out.
The Games have been held every four years since 1990. They were in Germany in 2006 and will return to Europe in 2014 when they'll be in Normandy, France.