By Nancy Glasscock, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily
Dancing with Evil after a workout at Celebration Arena on Thursday.
The financial impact on Priceville’s and Decatur’s hotel and restaurant business this week won’t be totaled until after a grand champion is crowned Saturday and owners and trainers load horses and leave.
But no one is optimistic that the Racking Horse World Grand Celebration’s impact will be as large as in 2000, when show attendees booked 2,529 rooms and brought in an estimated $850,000.
Five years later attendance was in decline, with people renting only 1,187 room nights accounting for $547, 846.
But Jimmy Ray Smith, a former tourism board member and member of the State Products Mart Authority of Morgan County, believes this could be the year the attendance graph takes an incline angle.
“Probably the last few years, a lot of people have not been able to travel with gas prices the way they were and the economy the way it is,” he said.
“This year, they may be ready to get out and go show their horses.”
In 2008, guests reserved 774 room nights and brought in $378,000.
Tammy Reist, executive director of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said more people attending the Celebration stay in Priceville than Decatur.
Guests give an increase in business at Priceville restaurants, owners said.
Jody Witt, owner of JW Steakhouse in Priceville, said his restaurant sees an increase in business during events such as the celebration and Kennel Club Dog Show.
Libby Gatlin, owner of Libby’s Catfish & Diner near Priceville, said there is usually a small increase in business at her restaurant, but most guests for the celebration stay and eat in Decatur.
“We do get some business from them, but not like we used to,” she said. “And, I think a lot of them have their own campers and do their own cooking, too.”