Ohio Shows Team Up

Two associations combine their talents to produce the 2013 Buckeye Classic show.

By Connie Lechleitner
The American Quarter Horse Journal
February 1, 2013

Ohio Buckeye Classic

Two associations combine their talents to produce the 2013 Buckeye Classic show.

There’s an old saying, “two heads are better than one.” In this case, its “two associations can produce a better show than one.”

Buckeye Western Horse Association and the Ohio Amateur Quarter Horse Association are combining forces to co-host the 2013 Buckeye Classic July 25-28 at Eden Park Equestrian Center in Sunbury, Ohio. Judges for the show include Doug Huls, Liz Haynes, Bruce Walquist, Scott Neuman, Karen Graham and Rob Meneely. (The show received special-event approval, allowing every class except halter, trail, western riding and reining to receive six sets of points.)

BWHA has a long history of hosting everything from open horse shows to jumping events to an AQHA circuit, the Flag City USA show. OAQHA was the first amateur association in the country to host an AQHA-approved show in 1979. Each has developed a reputation for producing large, successful shows.

Combining Forces
The idea to combine forces began at the OAQHA’s 2012 Buckeye Classic at Eden Park last year.

“I was telling Dean and Karol Lee, who have been active in BWHA for many years, that I don’t know how they do it hosting their show,” said Justin Billings, OAQHA vice president. “We have a lot of enthusiastic amateur members, but most of us didn’t have much experience at running a show. At first, it was a joking comment, but then we got into a serious discussion about possibly working together.”

BWHA, which for many years has hosted the Flag City USA circuit in the Findlay area, had moved its show to the Findlay Western Farm in 2012.

“When we held our show at the Hancock County Fairgrounds in Findlay, it required a lot of work from our members to set up before the show and tear down, plus we were at the mercy of the weather,” Lee said. “Our club members range from 50 to 80, and it was getting harder and harder to get the work done. When we moved the show to the University of Findlay Western Farm, we were limited in the number of stalls we could sell, so we were looking for another solution for our show, too.”

The two organizations seem to complement each other well.

“OAQHA is really good at promotion and raising sponsorships, and those are two things our members did not want to do,” Lee said.

“BWHA has done such a great job of organizing and running its entry office, and that was something we felt we could improve over last year,” Billings said.

Offering Free Amateur Entries
Together, the show team has already raised $35,000 from corporate partners that include the Gary Martz family, Olivia Hoecker/Pine Meadow Farm, Rebecca Bailey/One Hot Krymsun and Rods Western Palace. The corporate support will allow the show to offer free entries for all six judges to amateur, Novice amateur and Select amateur AQHA exhibitors.

“We were really looking for a way to give back to the amateur community and to encourage Quarter Horse owners to come and join us in the show arena,” Billings said. “We know that our show will be a fun, family friendly event, so we wanted to encourage amateurs and their families to join us and have a great experience showing with us.”

Lee said BWHA members are also excited about the new show.

“Ohio used to have a number of big circuits besides the Congress, but we have lost quite a few of them,” she said. “By working together with OAQHA, we hope to make the Buckeye Classic one of those big horse show events for our state.”

The Buckeye Classic will offer circuit awards in each class, and all-around as well as reserve all-around awards in every category. The show also includes seven $1,000 futurity classes.

Working With AQHA
“We have been talking with Patti Carter Pratt, Lisa Pond and Melynda Ackley in the AQHA show office since last fall, and they have been great to work with,” Billings said.

“We really appreciate show committees that think outside the box, yet work with our show guidelines, to find new ways to attract exhibitors to shows,” said Patti Carter-Pratt, AQHA executive director of shows. We commend the Buckeye Classic show committee. They are energetic, positive and in it for the right reasons and to support the Quarter Horse.”

Carter-Pratt said she sees more and more organizations joining forces or at least considering working together, to produce shows.

“Two years ago, we had two totally different organizations that used the same fairgrounds to hold separate shows on the same weekend, and we worked with them to make that happen,” she said. “We recognize that show demographics are constantly changing, and we continually need new ideas”

Eden Park
The Buckeye Classic will be held at Eden Park Equestrian Center, which has capacity for 625 stalls.

“We are excited to be able to hold the show at such a great facility,” Billings said. “We will be assigning stalls based on corporate sponsorship and then by reservation date, so we are encouraging everyone to reserve stalls early. We are already accepting stall reservations.”

BWHA is also happy with the venue for the show.

“Eden Park is a great facility, and it has several outdoor arenas,” Lee said. “We hope the weather will allow us to hold our trail classes outside at will and help us move the show along, too.”

Billings noted that the show committee is working with the local electric company to quadruple electric service for camping during the show as well.

The Buckeye Classic will be unveiled to Ohio Quarter Horse Association members during the OQHA Annual Meeting and Banquet on February 2. For additional information about the Buckeye Classic show, visit www.freeamateurentries.com.