Friday, June 9, 2000, Vol. 114, No. 112

By STACEY WIEDOWER Horse show reins in dollars for area charities By STACEY WIEDOWER The Daily News A town characterized in the late 1800s as a "peaceful hamlet occupied by more horses than people" by its Chamber of Commerce, Germantown still works to maintain its suburban tranquility. And, while the citys nearly 40,000 residents now heavily outnumber its equine population, horses still play a major role in the citys culture, as evidenced by the ongoing success of the annual Germantown Charity Horse Show. The show is running through Saturday night at the arena at 7745 Poplar Pike at Melanie Smith Lane in Germantown. Now in its 52nd year, the event is one of the largest multi-breed shows in the country, said GCHS president David Cuicchi. "We have Tennessee walking horses, saddlebreds, gaited horses, roadster ponies," Cuicchi said. "We just have everything here, and thats why its such a unique show. There are only about 30 events in the country that handle multi-breeds like we do, and a person can come any night and see all the different breeds and different classes." In addition to a variety of horses, competitors vary, as well. The show includes riders from amateur and junior to professional status. "We have a wide range," Cuicchi added. "And we have riders from around 20 to 22 states who come in, so its a nationally known show. "People come in for the whole week, so it certainly has a great impact not only on the city of Germantown, but on all of Shelby County." The show begins daily at 5:30 p.m. and lasts until about 10 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children age 3 to 18. Children under 3 are admitted free. The show also is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at no admission charge. Proceeds from the charity horse show will benefit the Exchange Club Family Center in Memphis. Show officials select a different organization to support for four to five years, Cuicchi said. "Over the 52 years weve been in operation, we figure weve given over a million dollars to charity," Cuicchi said. This is the second year proceeds have gone to the Exchange Club. The funds will be used to provide counseling for children who have been victimized by child abuse or repeatedly witnessed domestic violence, said the centers executive director, Barbara King. She said the centers staff does its part in raising funds by selling ads for the shows program, then creating the program and selling it at the show. The show adds a $10,000 donation to the amount raised by the center. "So, in a sense, were unlimited in what we can make, depending on how many ads we sell above and beyond our printing costs," King said. "Last year, we actually made about $20,000 on the project. This year, were hoping to increase that amount." Cuicchi said the show generally averages 35,000 to 40,000 attendees. This year is shaping up to be a strong one attendance-wise due in part to the weather as evidenced by Tuesday nights record-breaking crowd. Saturday night will feature the highlight of the show, the $25,000 Lincoln Grand Prix jumping championship. The competition, which offers a $7,500 purse for its first-prize winner, draws entries from around the nation. There are so many entries this year, a pre-jump is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday to narrow the competition down to 12 or 15 entries for the main event, Cuicchi said. The event is named for major sponsor Lincoln-Mercury. "We are thrilled to support the Germantown Horse Show in its efforts," said marketing manager for Lincoln-Mercurys Memphis region Melissa McDonell, who was herself a part of Tuesdays large crowd. "Its just fascinating to watch," she said. Tonight, one of the shows highlights is a presentation of awards by major sponsor Powertel for its "Horse Play" contest, for which area school children entered drawings depicting their interpretations of horseplay. "Weve had a wonderful response. I have a stack on my desk of wonderful drawings," said Powertel director of marketing Linda Bourassa. Three winners will be chosen in each of three age categories, which include kindergarten through sixth grade, seventh through ninth grade and 10th through 12th grade. In addition to a trophy, a Best of Show winner will take home $500 in cash or in riding lessons, Bourassa said. "We are really pleased with our relationship with the show," she added. "Our people, the people who make up Powertel, live and work in these suburban communities and all around the Memphis area, and they like to be involved in events in the various locations." In addition to the Horse Play contest, Powertel is hosting a chamber of commerce reception at Friday nights show, Bourassa said. This years Charity Horse Show features several improvements to its facility, including new concession stands, newly painted barns and additional asphalt. The shows next goal is to renovate the stalls over the next three to four years. "Were running a campaign to have people donate $1,000 to fix up a stall," Cuicchi said. "We started that campaign Tuesday and we already have a lot of people committed to helping us do that. Its going to be a long-term capital improvement campaign. "So, were thinking ahead. Were trying to stay on the cutting-edge of horse shows."