Saturday, October 9, 2010

As World Equestrian Games near end, RV park says it got fewer than half the guests it expected

By Neal Bassett
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

With the World Equestrian Games coming to a close, the recreational-vehicle park located at Midway Station has not had as many guests as expected, but has been home to many volunteers, workers, and visitors from all over the world.

Manager Thomas Hosea said the park had fewer than half the visitors he expected. The lack of visitors may cause concern for Raymond Brody, the RV dealer from Nashville, who leased the failed industrial park north of Interstate 64 from the Woodford County Economic Development Authority and still owes it $20,000.

EDA Chairman Michael Duckworth said that he spoke with Brody, who paid a $10,000 deposit to use the land, and is confident that Brody will be able to come up with the rest of the funds, which were supposed to have been paid Aug. 1.

“As soon as he receives all of his payments for the games he will forward me what he owes,” said Duckworth. “I expect the man to pay me, it’s that simple.” Brody was not available to comment and Hosea said he had not heard about the financial situation.

The RV park has had roughly 300 guests, Hosea said. About 90 RVs were brought by guests, and the park has had another 90 or so that it has rented at prices ranging from $120 to $320 per night. Hosea said that “roughly 30 percent” of those who checked in are workers or volunteers for the games, and that he enjoys having workers and volunteers staying in RVs.

“The volunteers and workers spend a lot of their time and money to be here,” he said. ”These people love horses, and they’re passionate about it. They work very hard.”

He added, “The people here are wonderful, sweet, down to earth people, but this was not the turnout we expected.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that some park guests have been upset with service at the park. Hosea said some patrons were not accustomed to taking showers in campers with water tanks that hold only about six gallons, and laundry service was less frequent than expected because there were fewer guests than expected.

The park has run shuttles to the games at the Kentucky Horse Park, and has also made runs to Midway upon request. If the park shuttles are in use, Hosea said, he uses his vehicle to take people to Midway as needed.

Audrey Hanley, a volunteer for the games, was very pleased with the shuttle service.

“The shuttles come more often than they said it would,” said Hanley. “We have not had to wait more than five to 10 minutes for a ride, and it takes us right to town whenever we need it.”

Mike Narkiewicz traveled from Florence, Colo., for the games and was pleased with the shuttle service, but not the service he received in Midway.

“When we went downtown and almost everything was closed,” said Narkiewicz. “The food wasn’t that great and we haven’t been back since.”

But other visitors have spoken favorably of Midway, and Lois Webb, a longtime Midway citizen, said the shuttle service has helped WEG tourists and volunteers see the town and given Midway an opportunity to look like more than just a small town.

“The park has been advertisement for the future and gives us a chance to expand,” said Webb. “It’s important for visitors to see Kentucky hospitality. We are more than just a small town, and we want them to experience that.”

The RV park has a concessions tent that offers snacks and drinks, which brought up speculation about whether it hurt restaurants in Midway.

Carol Bowles, owner of Wonderland Café, said she had not noticed the RV park and the concessions hurting her business.

“They found Midway, which is a good thing,” she said. “I think the games have helped my business. I have had people come in from Ireland, England, Australia, and Minnesota.”

The RV park has given visitors from all over the world a chance to see Midway and interact with locals, and Hosea said he believes the people are what make the experience successful.

“I’ve never had better people to work with,” he said.

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