Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2001

Attendance down at American Royal

November 29, 2001

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— Attendance at the American Royal was down 8 percent from last year, but officials said they aren't worried.

"With everything going on in the country and the world right now, we figured attendance would be down," said Jim Taylor, retiring executive vice president and general manager of the American Royal.

About 250,000 people attended the annual rodeo, livestock and horse shows, which were Oct. 5 through Nov. 17.

American Royal spokeswoman Joan Slawson said that lower ticket sales will not present a budget problem. The nonprofit organization relies heavily on donations and sponsorships.

Changes in the horse show schedule and having the rodeo during Halloween also likely contributed, officials said.

The horse show schedule was changed to appease the United Professional Horsemen's Association, said horse show manager Fern Bittner. By separating the hunter/jumper and saddlebred horse shows, more space was available for the horses.

Last year, the group threatened to cancel its American Royal contract, complaining of poor dirt on the arena floor, dust and trash in the arenas and inadequate stall space that wasn't set up on time.

Karen Richardson, executive secretary for the horsemen's association, said everything went well this year. She said she was optimistic the group would decide to renew its contract with the American Royal in January "as long as they can assure us this isn't a one-year thing just to get us to come back next year."

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