Visit Horse Country Launches Charitable Fund

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Visit Horse Country

Visit Horse Country, like many others, suffered a serious financial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. Several members of the industry, such as Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland, the Breeders' Cup and The Jockey Club, stepped into help. However, Visit Horse Country has now partnered with the Bluegrass Community Foundation to launch a charitable fund supporting initiatives like services for TAA-accredited aftercare members of Horse Country which receive a complimentary membership; scholarship and field trip visits; community outreach such as Meet the Neighbors; and a new workforce development partnership with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

“Between refunds and not being able to offer tours, a year that had been trending to exceed 40% growth year over year turned into a budget net-negative,” said Price Bell, Jr., president of Horse Country's board. “The way we're currently structured, nearly all of our operating budget is derived from revenue sharing when members give tours. When that couldn't happen, we were looking at a pretty dire scenario. We cut every expense we could, including a temporary furlough of our team. Even as a limited amount of tours reopened in 2020, we would not have made it without the financial support of our industry, community and members.”

So far, in a launch of the fund earlier this year, more than 70% of the initial goal of $150,000 has been raised, with major support coming from the W. S. Farish Fund, followed by the Duncan & Carol Taylor Fund, Headley & Nancy Bell, Priscilla Fallon, The Bakhaus Family Foundation, The Jones Family Foundation, Siena Farm, Godolphin and others.

“The successful work of fan development through Horse Country is vital to our industry. For it to go away after the dedication of so many wasn't acceptable,” said Bill Farish of Horse Country member Lane's End Farm, and on behalf of the W. S. Farish Fund. “The financial health of Horse County is vital to the success of the effort. I'm thrilled to hear the match by the W. S. Farish fund has worked and that Horse Country will make it through this pandemic.”

Tours for 2021 will be offered on a limited basis beginning late December, though some members may not resume regular operations until later in the new year. Updates can be found at www.visithorsecountry.com.

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