By Tammy Knox
Indiana horse racing is on the move and right alongside keeping stride is the Indiana Standardbred Breed Development (ISBD) team. Headed by Jessica Barnes, longtime director of racing and breed development, Megan Arszman, communications coordinator, and Rachel Klotz, Standardbred Breed Development coordinator, have a busy summer lined up in promoting and publicizing the Indiana county fairs offering harness racing.
The ISBD immersed themselves into the season at the beginning of June. They have penned a deal with Emmis Communication’s 1070 The Fan to offer the “Homestretch Call” from several county fairs throughout the summer. Along with this partnership, several of the station’s on-air talent and others station B105.7 will record videos to help educate listeners on the importance of the sport to Indiana’s history and economy.
One of the highlights of the season will be a VIP Experience package offered via the station’s Website starting the week of July 4, 2018. Fans can register to win a behind the scenes look at racing at the Indiana State Fair and the four-person package includes VIP seating, food and beverage vouchers, meet and greet with on-air personalities and other promotional giveaway items during the two-day racing program at the Indiana State Fair. The two days will include Grand Circuit racing and the Indiana-sired fair circuit championships. Also, Big Joe Staysniak, who appears with Michael Grady on the popular daytime show “Grady and Big Joe” will broadcast live from the State Fair Thursday, Aug. 9. One VIP Experience prize package will be provided to listeners on both stations, 1070 The Fan and B105.7. The promotion will be provided through a digital and social promotion.
ISBD is also working with Emmis Communications to publicize point standings for the fairs and create “bubble” standings, generating added interest in keeping up with the state’s biggest stars on the county fair circuit. The ISBD staff has identified some other unique on-air talents that could potentially open harness racing and county fairs up to a younger, brand new audience that have not been tapped into before.
“We are working with Emmis on not only their sports radio station but also with B 105.7’s ‘Sean in the City’ for more family focused activities such as behind the scenes at the State Fair,” said Barnes. “He hits a younger generation as well as the family aspect.”
Videos were recorded at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on June 18 to help promote Standardbred racing and the circuit championships. These videos will be promoted via social media and on their respective Websites.
The ISBD is also working closely with staff from the Indiana State Fair and tweaking some current displays to be more fan friendly.
“The staff at the Indiana State Fair really wants to see something in the barn area,” noted Arszman, a former racing intern at Hoosier Park. “We will have a retired racehorse for the barn visits. There is a potential opportunity to build a temporary stall near the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand to entice fair goers to watch harness racing and to learn more about the Standardbred. We will have staffed barn visits throughout the entirety of the State Fair, thanks to volunteers from both the IHRC and the ISA. They will help educate fair goers about the industry and how horse racing is good for Indiana. Other educational opportunities are still in the works for the Indiana State Fair, but we are excited to share this opportunity and our passion with fellow Hoosiers.”
Everyone agrees that opening up one of the speed barns for tours to fair goers is a great idea, but providing 17 days of tours from Aug. 3 – 19 from 10AM until 7PM requires a lot of volunteers and staffing.
“We can cover some of the shifts but we really need some volunteers to help cover some of the hours for the barn visits,” added Arszman.
The ISA and ISBD are also working together this summer to provide more in depth social media coverage of the county fairs. Arszman and Klotz attend many of the fairs and snap photos to include on their social media platforms. Both have worked very hard to boost those platforms, especially Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, an initiative that began last year.
County fairs are always encouraged to join in on the movement as well, especially with the grants offered by the Indiana State Fairgrounds each year for capital improvements. It is part of their Legacy Projects and these submitted requests are reimbursable.
In all, county fairs offering harness racing could potentially receive $1,500 in grants each season to help publicize, renovate and promote their racing programs. The U.S. Trotting Association offers $500 yearly grants along with grants up to $500 from the ISA and $500 from the ISBD. Arszman and Klotz are also working with one of their in-house designers to create signage, flyers, billboards and other creative to support the county fairs. All of this creative is available to county fair programs by simply contacting ISBD.
For more information on the activities lined up for this season or to volunteer to work the State Fair speed barn visits, contact Arszman at the Indiana Horse Racing Commission at (317) 233-3119 or by email at MArszmanWeisbrodt@hrc.in.gov.