Atlanta Steeplechase races into town April 14
by Marie Nesmith
Apr 04, 2012 | 2147 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Horses jump over the hurdles at last year’s Atlanta Steeplechase at Kingston Downs. This year’s event will be April 14.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
Horses jump over the hurdles at last year’s Atlanta Steeplechase at Kingston Downs. This year’s event will be April 14. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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With the 47th annual Atlanta Steeplechase less than two weeks away, Ellen Archer -- executive director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau -- is delighted to help introduce visitors to the Bartow community.

Drawing about 9,000 spectators to its first offering at Horseshoe Bend in Roswell, the event has blossomed over the years, with about 24,000 people expected to attend April 14's gathering at the 435-acre Kingston Downs complex near Kingston.

"Exposure is always good," Archer said. "Some of the best media we ever received from Points North magazine was from the editor coming through town on the way back from the Steeplechase. They had just never [taken a] trip into Cartersville before, but I guess it's sort of on the way.

"[The Atlanta Steeplechase] is just such an extraordinary, special event," she said, adding the CVB's goal is for spectators to extend their day trip into an overnight stay or to return to Bartow at a later date. "A lot of tour companies, even out of Kentucky of all places, have expressed interest in the Steeplechase. So we are expecting next year to have more than a few bus loads of people who not only will be going to the Steeplechase but will also be staying in our hotels if not for one night but for two. It's a good event for us from the group tour standpoint because it is such a flashy and fun event."

Starting at 9 a.m., the Atlanta Steeplechase will provide activities throughout the day, some of which include horse races, a hat parade and contest, Jack Russell terrier races, pony and camel rides, the inaugural Atlanta Peoplechase 5K Canter and Parade of the Bear Creek Hounds.

While spectators primarily hail from the Atlanta metropolitan area, the event also attracts people from across the Southeast.

"We have a strong, loyal fan base and then we also attract people from Chattanooga and really the outlying states -- Alabama, Tennessee, North and South Carolina and we even have a few people that come from Florida," said India Watson, marketing and sales director for the Atlanta Steeplechase. "It's a 47-year-old tradition and we have a lot of people who feel like it's a reunion.

"They see the same people every year and that's why we have such a strong returning group. We've got these reserved tailgating spots and picnic boxes that people have had for years. ... I think mostly that it's a day that they can disconnect from the normal craziness of living in Atlanta. It's just an entire day of being outside and seeing friends and family. It's really just kind of a throwback to a Southern tradition."

General admission tickets, which cost $30 per person, can be obtained at select Publix Supermarkets, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 404-249-6400. Children 12 and younger will be admitted at no charge.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Camp Southern Ground and The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Along with admission fees, the organizations also will benefit from the Kentucky Derby Raffle, which includes an inclusive travel package to the 138th Kentucky Derby.

For more information about the Atlanta Steeplechase or to purchase raffle tickets, which are $50 each, visit www.atlantasteeplechase.org.