Equine Events More Than Double at the Fairgrounds
In 2013, St. Lucie County created the Tourism and Venues Division within the Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department in an effort to allow the Tourism staff to market and promote existing facilities such as the Fairgrounds and Havert L. Fenn Center. As a result of the staff’s focus on the equestrian community, the number of horse-related events at the fairgrounds increased to 17 compared to seven the prior year. Those events added 56 percent more visitors (5,232 total people) to the facility and an increase of 59 percent in revenue ($53,729). Those 17 equestrian events created an estimated $20.9 million impact on the local economy (or a 142 percent increase from the previous year).
“Our great increase in the number of horse-related events could not be done without the support and word of mouth that comes from our local equestrian community. This tight-knit community is constantly offering ideas, positive publicity and the forward focus to help us make the fairgrounds a sought-after equestrian center. And, the support from our Board on the facility’s capital improvements is also a huge factor for our recent success,” said St. Lucie County Tourism and Venues Manager Charlotte Bireley.
While there was an increased focus on marketing the St. Lucie County Fairgrounds to the equestrian community, staff credits the capital improvements and infrastructure upgrades with the ability to better promote the facility, including the construction of a second outdoor arena and the addition of 50 new stalls. More improvements to the facility are planned such as the construction of an LED roadside message board/sign, electrical panel upgrades, and the addition of 25 new stalls. Future improvements to Adams Ranch Equestrian Arena include the installation of large-scale fans to control temperatures, replacement of the footing and exterior mural artwork.
Located at 15601 W. Midway Road, the St. Lucie County Fairgrounds and Equestrian Center is just ten minutes from Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike. The facility encompasses 250 acres and features the covered 75,000-square-foot Adams Ranch Equestrian Arena, which can be configured to seat up to 7,285, two outdoor arenas, three air-conditioned exhibit halls, totaling 21,000-square-feet, three covered livestock barns with 150 stalls and wash stations and 82 full-service RV sites. For more information about rentals and events visit http://www.stlucieco.gov/fairgrounds or call 772-462-2581 or email email@example.com.
Promoting Florida as a destination for equestrians has also become a focus for Visit Florida, the official marketing organization for Florida tourism. The County’s Tourism & Venues Division, a Visit Florida partner, has recently been working with the organization to further promote St. Lucie County as an equestrian destination. For more details about horse-related vacations in the Sunshine State visit: http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/articles/2014/freelance/florida-horse-country.html.
Conveniently located on Florida’s east coast between West Palm Beach and Orlando, St. Lucie County has a long and celebrated horse history. For more than 100 years, riders have taken the Florida Cracker Trail across the state ending along the beautiful water front in downtown Fort Pierce – a tradition that continues today. Fredrick Douglass Beach on Hutchinson Island is one of the few places in Florida that allows for horseback riding on the beach – you can purchase a permit to ride your own horse or sign up with a local tour company. Several of the county’s more than 7,000 acres of preserves have been improved to allow for horseback riding with increased parking space for trailers and amenities such as wider trails, wash stations and paddocks.
St. Lucie County is comprised of Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Hutchinson Island. For more information about St. Lucie County’s equestrian activities and other accommodations visit www.visitstluciefla.com or call 1-800-344-8443.