Act of Kindness - Kentucky Horse Park and 1 Million Lights

SouthernLights CaitlinWorth 20191 logoAct of Kindness - Kentucky Horse Park and 1 Million Lights

Written by Kathy Witt

“One only has to observe the competitors of the Kentucky Horse Park horse shows flocking to Scott County hotels and restaurants to realize the impact of the park,” says Becky Jordan, a Georgetown resident who volunteers with the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, an organization that works to enhance, expand and improve the world’s leading equestrian destination. “They love the convenience of Scott County’s proximity.”

Becky says the Kentucky Horse Park (KHP) has an enormous, positive impact on Georgetown – economic and otherwise. The success of the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games brought an influx of hotels and restaurants to Scott County – along with jobs. Local support services like veterinarians and farriers derive a percentage of their annual income from the horses competing at KHP shows. An annual eight-week summer series of horse shows means visitors are spending money in the community for the duration. 

“Proudly, our Kentucky Horse Park is continually voted the No. 1 favorite horse show facility by competitors,” notes Becky. “They love the venue and our beautiful bluegrass. We have a broad variety of breeds at the park and horse lovers like me can see their favorite ones.”

Working behind the scenes, the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation manages several programs designed to showcase and enhance the Park and help it achieve its goal as the foremost working horse farm, world-renowned center for show and competition and international center for equine education.

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The most prominent of these programs includes the Battle in the Saddle Celebrity Team Roping event, Southern Lights and the Southern Lights Stroll, KHPF Trail Ride and the KHP Run and Walk Club.

Additionally, in 2021 the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation stepped in to raise funds to support the running of the internationally renowned Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, which had been cancelled by the organizer because of COVID restrictions affecting spectator revenues.

Said Kathy Meyer, executive director of the Foundation: “Proceeds from these programs are invested in Kentucky Horse Park projects and support through the KHPF grants process where KHP requests funding to support all aspects of the Kentucky Horse Park, enhancing the visitor experience in the International Museum of the Horse, KHP Campground, Hall of Champions and the many special attractions offered at the park.”

Raising millions of dollars all on its own as well as bringing thousands of people from across the state each year to the area is Southern Lights – a nearly 30-year holiday tradition at Kentucky Horse Park. This year, the Southern Lights driving route opens right after Thanksgiving, on Friday, Nov. 26.

“2020 was a banner year for Southern Lights,” said Kathy. “We experienced a 40 percent increase in attendance as families enjoyed viewing over a million twinkling lights from the safety of their own car.”

Make that from the safety of 37,000 cars. That’s how many vehicles made their way along Southern Lights’ three-mile route. As for the oohs and ahs inspired by the dazzling light display? They were given voice by more than 150,000 individuals. And the light show is expected to be even bigger this year.

The Southern Lights Stroll, cancelled in 2020 due to COVID, returns on Saturday, Nov. 20. The Outdoor Winter Village at the Visitors Center reopens with a totally new look in and around the traditional Animal Land, Miniature Train and Santa’s Cabin. A “Santa’s List” can be downloaded from the Southern Lights site, completed and dropped in the North Pole Mailbox at the village. The Kentucky Horse Park Gift Shop will be open during Southern Lights hours and food will be available to purchase.

Tickets may be purchased in advance (highly recommended) here

Southern Lights Holiday Festival Fun Facts

  • It takes 6,000 labor hours to set up and take down the Southern Lights Holiday Festival.
  • Every display on the route has to be set up, wired, checked and then taken down by hand.
  • More than 1,150,000 bulbs make up the 250 light displays across the Park.
  • As of 2018, all light displays were converted to LED lights to reduce energy usage.
  • Named a “Top 20 Event in the Southwest” by Southeast Tourism.
  • Named a “Top 10 Kentucky Festivals & Events” by Kentucky Tourism.
  • Since its inception 27 years ago, the Southern Lights Holiday Festival has raised nearly $5 million dollars to benefit the Kentucky Horse Park.


Author: Kathryn Witt

Kathryn Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer, syndicated columnist and author of several books, including Secret Cincinnati, The Secret of the Belles and Atlanta Georgia: A Photographic Portrait. A member of SATW, Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Books & Illustrators, she lives in northern Kentucky.


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