Since its opening in Columbus in 1967, the All American Quarter Horse Congress has continuously brought its rich history and tradition, as well as a significant economic impact, to the Ohio capital. That’s why when the contract came up for review in 2015, it was no question that the city wanted to keep the Congress at its Ohio Expo Center for another 10 years.
The All American Quarter Horse Congress is the world’s largest single-breed horse show, and each year it attracts 650,000 people to Columbus, generating $239 million in economic activity.
“It’s an important event for our equine industry and our state,” says David Daniels, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
The Ohio equine industry brings in $1.4 billion in goods and services each year, employing 181,700 individuals across the state. Of Ohio’s 307,000 horses, 70 percent are showing for recreation or exhibition.
In addition to keeping the Congress in Columbus until 2024 with an option to extend to 2029, the Congress and the Ohio Expo Center built the new Buckeye Agriculture Complex, which opened in fall 2015. This 195,000-square-foot facility includes 1,023 permanent stalls, a 39,000-square-foot riding arena and 20 wash stalls, totaling 5.5 acres under roof.
Governor John Kasich allotted $38.5 million in capital improvements for this and other Expo Center expansions.
“We’ve really seen the Congress expand in the past few years,” Daniels says. “It’s growing quickly, and we’re seeing that growth in the competitions that take place during this event.”
Some of the competitions have had to move to areas outside of the Expo Center because of limited space. The center is hoping that the addition of the new agriculture complex will bring the events back under one roof.
In addition to being the largest single-breed horse show, the Congress is also the largest annual convention in Ohio and one of the nation’s top events. It is something that participants and visitors look forward to all year, says Alicia Shoults, marketing and public relations director for the Ohio Expositions Commission. This event makes use of the entire Expo Center facility, which is home to about 175 additional events each year.
“I am thrilled to work closely with the Ohio Quarter Horse Association each year to host the Congress,” says Virgil Strickler, general manager of the Ohio Expositions Commission. “I truly admire the individuals who organize and participate in the Congress each year and know how much work they put into helping to make this great show a success.”