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Could Jacksonville Become The Next Wellington?

We think so! Every fall a mass exodus occurs. Thousands of athletes make their way South to the show jumping Mecca of Wellington. We're asking them to stop off and visit Jacksonville first and it appears they love the idea!

Nationally recognized Show Jumper Icons make the annual tour to the "Event" - "The Florida Winter Show Circuit." Prestigious horse owners fly to their southern destination while their entourage of farm staff travel in impressive rigs, horses in tow. And every year they pass by the beautiful City of Jacksonville and its state of the art Jacksonville Equestrian Center as they travel on I-10 and I-95. We say no longer!

Last year approximately 3,000 horses competed in Wellington as their owners wintered in West Palm Beach. It is an expensive ordeal - yet it continues to grow. Show Jumping is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. According to the Wall Street Journal (July 2001), the sport of show jumping in the United States is growing at the rate at which NACSAR racing was beginning to explode 5 years ago. Why should Jacksonville care? USA Equestrian represents their membership as a $2 billion buying force. And that means business!

This year the producers of the Florida Equestrian Celebration, Calhoun Event Planning & Management Inc., have created what is now being labeled as the 1st "leg" of the Florida Winter Show Circuit - The Celebration Grand Prix. Initially planned as a Sunday event, it has now grown into a 3-day Show Jumping extravaganza due to renowned competitor demand.

Grand Prix Show Manager Bill Joyce states, "The interest has been significant. Everyone calling wants to come to Jacksonville. As a result, we are now planning a 5-week Show Jumping circuit for 2007. The circuit would be kicked off by the Florida Equestrian Celebration scheduled for November 16, 2007, and continue through the end of the year. Competitors are amazed to discover that the Jacksonville Equestrian Center exists and that they can enjoy such state of the art accommodations. We see it as a win-win situation for the City of Jacksonville and for the show jumping sport."

The 3rd Annual Florida Equestrian Celebration will be held November 17-19, 2006 at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. Key sponsors include Duval Ford, SunTrust Bank, W.W. Gay Mechanical Contractors, and the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida. Considered the largest equestrian exposition in Florida and the Southeast, this year's Celebration will include invaluable educational clinics, workshops & seminars, dynamic horse & rider performances, impressive breed presentations, family fun KidZ Zone, and a Trade Show that will please even the most prominent shopper. Impressive indoor accommodations at Jacksonville Equestrian Center will keep everyone happy regardless of inclement weather.

Spectacular entertainment includes Friday Night's distinguished Dinner In The Dirt™ starring EquineExtremist Tommie Turvey. Saturday Night will highlight champion bull riders from across the country mounting some of the world's best bucking bulls for the Celebration's 1st Bull Riding Blowout. On Sunday the Celebration's Inaugural Show Jumping $30,000 Grand Prix will debut'. All entertainment will WOW the crowds.

Day Event Ticket prices are $17 adults, $10 kids (5-12), Kids under 5 Free, and $43 for a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 kids). NFES Members, Seniors, Military, & 4-H Members (13 & older) receive a $2 discount. Evening Entertainment and all VIP Tickets are sold separately. For detailed ticket information, visit the Florida Equestrian Celebration website - http://www.floridaequestrian.com.

The Florida Equestrian Celebration supports the efforts of the Florida Equine Industry by donating monies to the Northeast Florida Equestrian Society (NFES), which in turn supports the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. The event supports other non-profit organizations such as the Justice Coalition of Jacksonville. Justice Coalition Executive Director Ann Dugger said, "We are excited to attend the Celebration this year and look forward to a wonderful weekend of good old wholesome family fun! We encourage the Jacksonville community to come out and support this grand event!"

The Florida Equine Industry is one of the largest in the United States. There are over 500,000 horses in Florida and 70% of them are used for showing and recreation. The Florida horse industry produces goods and services valued at $2.2 billion annually. Nearby Marion County (Ocala) has the largest horse population of any county in the United States.


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