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Lexington' EquiFestival brings Kentucky heritage to life.

With activities ranging from horse races and shows to golf tournaments and concerts, Lexington held its second annual EquiFestival of Kentucky October 9-17.

EquiFestival celebrates the horse as a way of life for Lexington as well as an industry--a "special part of our culture," in the words of Councilwoman Fernita Wallace, who has chaired the event since its inception.

The festival is presented by the Lexington Chamber of Commerce, Keeneland Association, Kentucky Horse Park, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, which Wallace termed the "really key element."

EquiFestival has its roots in Horse Appreciation Week, when local horse farms were reopened to the public for special tours several years ago after being closed for some time.

This year 20 such farms were open daily in conjunction with EquiFestival to offer local residents and visitors a chance to observe their operations and better appreciate the industry.

EquiFestival coincides with the end of the season at The Red Mile racecouse, site of the opening ceremonies, and the annual opening of Keeneland, a unique, rural track with no loudspeakers.

The opening ceremonies were followed by the 100th renewal of the Kentucky Futurity, the third leg of trotting's triple crown.

About 5,000 attended the Parade of Breeds through downtown Lexington the following day, which featured the horse in all aspects of life. Combustion engines are prohibited in this parade; the only power allowed is horse power.

Prizes were awarded in four categories; Most Imaginative was won by a rider costumed as a medieval knight.

The Horse in History portion featured a leotard-clad Lady Godiva, chosen from auditioners to portray the wife of the Lord of Coventry who agreed to ride naked through the town market if her husband would abolish what she considered excessive taxation of the townspeople.

McDonald's, one of three founding sponsors who provide in-kind services, presented a Concert for Kids where participants made their own stick horses before parading around the Memorial Coliseum while the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra played the William Tell Overture.

This year EquiFestival featured Circus Flora, a one-ring show from St. Louis in which artists portray a fictional Italian family which brought its circus to America in the mid-19th century. Circus Flora was presented by another sponsor, Coca-Cola.

The third sponsor, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, organized a 5K foot race at Keeneland.

Other EquiFestival events included a horse drawing contest in country schools; tour of historic Henry Clay estate; equine art shows; horseshoe pitching contests; lectures and demonstrations by trainers, jockeys and drivers; and seminars for prospective thoroughbred owners given by prominent horse owners, breeders and trainers.

Wallace, who is also active with the Greater Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau, would like EquiFestival, a community event for persons of all ages and interests and an opportunity to learn more about horses, to help put Lexington on the map yearround.

For more information, contact Councilwoman Fernita Wallace, Lexington-Fayette Government Center, 200 East Main Street, Lexington, Ky. 40507; (606) 258-3200.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:City Ideas That Work
Author:Turner, Laura
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 23, 1992
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