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Monday, January 22, 2007

An Open Letter To John Nicholson, Executive Director

Dear Mr. Nicholson,

I was saddened to learn of the leaving of Deputy Executive Director Jamie Link. In the little time that I had known him, I had come to respect him as a man of vision for the Kentucky Horse Park.

I would hope that you might agree that the KHP needs a vision. I don't just refer to a vision for the 2010 Games. That is an awesome vision, indeed. But the Kentucky Horse Park needs to revisit its ultimate purpose, and I think, its original vision.

Yes, the KHP is there for the tourists that come from far and wide.

Yes, the KHP is there for the horse industry to have a base for countless competitions and other gatherings.

But, Mr. Nicholson, the Kentucky Horse Park is there primarily for the People Of Kentucky.

Granted, there are several seasonal events like the Southern Lights that reach out to the average Kentuckian. I volunteered twenty hours in '06 for Southern Lights, so I know this first hand. Never-the-less, I am convinced after coming to The Park for over twenty eight years, that little is being done to provide an entertaining experience for the average non-tourist, non-horse industry individual (i.e. the average Kentuckian) to return repeatedly to the KHP. I have heard this complaint many times from the "average Kentuckians" that I know: "There is nothing fun to do or see at the Kentucky Horse Park." They are to some degree wrong in their thinking, but that is their perception.

I know that it was a small step in 2005, but it was a step in the right direction when the KHP premiered its "Best Of The West" show. I've said this many times, but it bears repeating: This was an entertaining show that was an important compliment to the regular offerings of the KHP. The press releases of the KHP of '05 & '06 talked of its popularity with visitors to The Park. I put in approximately 60 hours of volunteer work helping with this show in the summer of '06 and I saw first hand how much all of the kids enjoyed Denny Chapman and his horses Spanky, Dusty and Charlie Brown. I also heard first hand the appreciative remarks of parents and grandparents, alike. It is a shame that the KHP ultimately did not truly value its importance to the visitors to The Park.

I would hope that the Kentucky Horse Park would rethink its ultimate purpose and vision for the average people of Kentucky. And yes, I would like to see the KHP return the "Best Of The West" show to its regular schedule for 2007 for the people of Kentucky, especially the children.

Michael McBrayer
Lexington, Kentucky


Michael Leslie McBrayer said...

Note: Copies of this e-mail to Mr Nicholson were sent to: Jim Newberry, Lexington Mayor; Kathy Hopkins, Director of Equine Operations; Mike Scales, Director of Support Services and Darlene Simpson, Office of the Governor.

Michael Leslie McBrayer said...

I would like to say that to Mr. Nicholson's credit he responded to my e-mail at 1:17 pm today. He is interested in scheduling a meeting. Thank you, Mr. Nicholson!

Michael Leslie McBrayer said...

Update: Mr Nicholson's executive assistant contacted me the afternoon of January 23rd. I have a meeting scheduled with Mr Nicholson for 9:30am on Wednesday February 7th. I plan to wear my cowboy boots and a suit; if I don't leave town first! Pray for me !

Michael Leslie McBrayer said...

Update: My meeting with Mr. Nicholson has been moved up to February 6th at 2:00pm. Less time to pray! SAINTS PRESERVE US !!!!

Michael Leslie McBrayer said...

Note: A 220 word editor's version of my 460 word original letter appeared today in the Lexington Herald Leader. Tomorrow, February 8th, 2007 is my 2pm meeting with Mr. Nicholson.

Michael Leslie McBrayer said...

It has taken me a long time to write my comments down about the February 8th meeting. The meeting lasted about an hour and both Mr. Nicholson and Ms. Hopkins were there. They seemed more interested in telling me their side of the story than listening to me. That was OK, I guess, since I had written and e-mailed just about anything that I could about the "Best Of The West" and Denny Chapman. They told me of plans to get more kids involved at the Park, just not involving Denny and his horses, at least not in the near future. It basically was a very polite meeting, but I left feeling that nothing was really accomplished. Time will tell if I ever return to the Kentucky Horse Park.