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Large horse show to pump $5M into economy

A barrel racing event will bring more than 800 horses to the Champions Center Expo this weekend and an estimated $5 million in revenue to the area — the largest event the facility has ever hosted.

The Panty Raid Futurity will also draw as many as 600 participants throughout the weekend, said Dawn Shirley, who founded the event with Clea Remington. Both women are from West Salem, Ohio. They said the event was named after Famous Silk Panties, a famous horse from Ohio who is one of the highest money-winners in the sport’s history.

Based on a calculation from the American Horse Council, the event could mean as much as $5.2 million to the local economy throughout the weekend, including for hotel rooms and meals, said Deborah Robinson, office manager at the Champions Center. The event is now in its second year, and attendance has roughly doubled from last year.

The event is so large organizers sold out 750 stalls for the horses and had to set up temporary stalls throughout the Clark County Fairgrounds.

Proceeds from the event will help fund an additional weekend of barrel racing at the facility in September called Best of the Best in Ohio. Revenue raised from that weekend will be donated to United Cerebral Palsy.

The event is expected to draw participants from 14 states and Canada. The Champions Center was selected to host the races because of its location near central Ohio, Shirley said, and the quality of the facility.

“It will be the largest barrel race held in Ohio,” said Justin Theodo, 19, of Mount Sterling, Ohio.

Theodo has been competing in barrel racing since he was about 9 years old, and said riders typically have to travel several hours to compete in large events. He has traveled as much as 18 hours for a race in Oklahoma.

Just a few years ago, the facility wasn’t set up to host barrel racing, Robinson said. Staff at the Champions Center have made upgrades to the site to make events like this possible.

The Best of the Best in Ohio show in September is expected to draw an even larger crowd, Robinson said.

“Word of mouth spread and it just grew and grew,” Robinson said of the event.

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