OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – With a new agreement, the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds will continue to play host to three major horse shows – that bring big bucks to Oklahoma City every year – for the next 10 years.
“They come here with the anticipation to ride through the ‘Gateway of Champions’ and have a shot at that Golden Globe and world champion honors,” said Justin Billings with the American Quarter Horse Association. “That means so much to those who are here competing.”
For 42 years, competitors and their quarter horses have traveled from across the country – and the world to compete at the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show at the State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City.
“Canada, Mexico, Germany and Brazil are all here right now competing,” Billings said.
Now, after signing a new deal, AQHA will host the November show as well as the Youth World Championship Show in August here for ten more years.
The shows will result in an average of 50,000 nights in hotel rooms booked in OKC per year.
“I checked into my hotel and the gentleman, he asked, 29 nights? I said yes, absolutely,” said Billings.
Most exhibitors stay for weeks – practicing and competing.
“Spending time in Oklahoma City, going to restaurants and eating, look for cowboy hats around town,” Billings said.
“It’s just fantastic for the tourism industry here in Oklahoma City,” said Tim O’Toole, President and CEO of State Fair, Inc.
Thanks to MAPS 4, the four-legged athletes will be competing in a new arena in a few years.
A new coliseum will replace the aging Jim Norick Arena.
They’re working on finalizing design plans with the hope construction will start in June of 2022 with it completed by July of 2024.
“The Norick Arena will stay in use the entire time,” O’Toole said. “We will build the new arena just to the South and East of the Norick Arena.”
Those with AQHA say competitors are looking forward to it – and it will make the best – better.
“This facility is one of the most exhibitor-friendly facilities in the country,” said Billings.
The AQHA World Show runs through Saturday. Admission is free.