Madison (WKOW)-- The 35th annual Midwest Horse Fair drew in more than 54,500 people during their three day event at the Alliant Energy Center. Organizers say it's the 3rd highest attendance total they've seen, after 56,000 attendees in 2010 and 55,500 in 2012.
These high attendance numbers came as a surprise to some as organizers faced a variety of hardships leading up the event. Many were concerned about recent cases of horses contracting the EHV-1 virus in the Midwest. The disease is also known as equine or horse herpes. Experts say it attacks each horse differently depending on the strain, but most suffer severe respiratory problems as result of the disease. In Wisconsin two confirmed cases of EHV-1 had been cited just weeks before the Midwest Horse Fair. Six additional cases were confirmed in Minnesota. Many of these horses had to be euthanized after contracting the disease.
Organizers say around 10% of this year's attendees decided to keep their horses at home due to concerns of the EHV-1 virus. Despite this drop, the event was still able to bring in 536 horses for a variety of shows and contests. The weather was also a major concern this year. More than three inches of rain was recorded between the the show dates of April 11th-13th. Thunderstorms and colder weather were also a concern.
Despite these hurdles, organizers of the show estimate $8.2 million in local spending was stimulated by the event. Thousands of attendees came from out of town and spent money on hotels, restaurants and local shops.
Next year's Midwest Horse Fair is scheduled for April 17th-19th at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.
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