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Monday, January 22, 2007

An Open Letter To John Nicholson, Executive Director

Dear Mr. Nicholson,

I was saddened to learn of the leaving of Deputy Executive Director Jamie Link. In the little time that I had known him, I had come to respect him as a man of vision for the Kentucky Horse Park.

I would hope that you might agree that the KHP needs a vision. I don't just refer to a vision for the 2010 Games. That is an awesome vision, indeed. But the Kentucky Horse Park needs to revisit its ultimate purpose, and I think, its original vision.

Yes, the KHP is there for the tourists that come from far and wide.

Yes, the KHP is there for the horse industry to have a base for countless competitions and other gatherings.

But, Mr. Nicholson, the Kentucky Horse Park is there primarily for the People Of Kentucky.

Granted, there are several seasonal events like the Southern Lights that reach out to the average Kentuckian. I volunteered twenty hours in '06 for Southern Lights, so I know this first hand. Never-the-less, I am convinced after coming to The Park for over twenty eight years, that little is being done to provide an entertaining experience for the average non-tourist, non-horse industry individual (i.e. the average Kentuckian) to return repeatedly to the KHP. I have heard this complaint many times from the "average Kentuckians" that I know: "There is nothing fun to do or see at the Kentucky Horse Park." They are to some degree wrong in their thinking, but that is their perception.

I know that it was a small step in 2005, but it was a step in the right direction when the KHP premiered its "Best Of The West" show. I've said this many times, but it bears repeating: This was an entertaining show that was an important compliment to the regular offerings of the KHP. The press releases of the KHP of '05 & '06 talked of its popularity with visitors to The Park. I put in approximately 60 hours of volunteer work helping with this show in the summer of '06 and I saw first hand how much all of the kids enjoyed Denny Chapman and his horses Spanky, Dusty and Charlie Brown. I also heard first hand the appreciative remarks of parents and grandparents, alike. It is a shame that the KHP ultimately did not truly value its importance to the visitors to The Park.

I would hope that the Kentucky Horse Park would rethink its ultimate purpose and vision for the average people of Kentucky. And yes, I would like to see the KHP return the "Best Of The West" show to its regular schedule for 2007 for the people of Kentucky, especially the children.

Michael McBrayer
Lexington, Kentucky