Equestrian competition brings millions to Jacksonville economy

A local equestrian center's popularity is attracting more people to Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — “Florida Reining Classic” competitors showed off their stops and turns at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center on Friday.

Rider Jennie Edwards said, “This show is amazing. There are so many people from everywhere.”

She told Action News Jax that while she was from Duval County, most of her fellow riders aren’t.

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“It’s easy to get to with I-95 and stuff ... It’s a little cold today, but normally our weather is good and we have this awesome facility,” Edwards said.

The 2020 show is the biggest yet, with nearly 1,400 participants.

Event chair Shannon Rafacz noted that, “They [riders] get to bring their families. They get the opportunity to go do things throughout the area.”

A new covered arena at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center allows the competition to serve as a qualifier for a larger event in Las Vegas.

The new designation means more athletes at the show and more money for the city.

“It’s roughly $2.3 million to $2.5 million by the time all of our competitors have been here, stayed here, eaten at all of the restaurants, stayed at the hotel, taken part in a lot of the recreational things Duval has to offer,” Rafacz said.

Improvements at the center clear the way for other larger events such as the Special Olympics Area Qualifiers and Championships.

Edwards said she can’t wait to see what’s next at the center.

“It’s really a good place to be I think they’ll just keep making it better.”

The event is free to attend and runs through Sunday at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center at Cecil Commerce Center.