"FanFest" is well underway in Grand Prairie, Texas as race fans gear up for the sold-out Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship Oct. 30.
FanFest, presented by the Grand Prairie Breeders' Cup Committee and sanctioned by the Breeders' Cup, is a month-long event featuring celebrity appearances, musical performances, sporting events, and charity auctions surrounding daily racing at Lone Star Park.
The festival kicked off Oct. 1 with opening ceremonies at Lone Star and will continue through Oct. 31, finishing with a Breeders' Cup Polo Match at the Las Colinas Polo Club.
The city of Grand Prairie and surrounding Fort Worth-Dallas areas, Lone Star Park, and the Breeders' Cup have teamed up to present events ranging from a hot air balloon mass ascension (Oct. 24) to a mystery dinner theater (Oct. 26).
The remaining non-racing sporting event on the schedule is the Breeders' Cup Kickoff Golf Tournament (Oct. 25).
A FanFest highlight with a Texas flare is "FanFest:Texas...The Experience," a festival within the festival featuring Texas traditions including cowboys, roping, Texas music, artisans, celebrity chef cook-offs, and Texas beer and wine tasting at Lone Star Park, Oct. 22-24.
And the celebration continues with "FanFest: Joe Fan Party," featuring handicapping seminars by world-renowned handicappers, meet-the-jockeys session, and concerts at the Nokia Theatre, Oct. 28.
FanFest will also feature performances by country music stars, George Strait, Willie Nelson, and Steve Wariner.
Strait will headline the Breeders' Cup Charity Gala set for Championship eve, Oct. 29, at the Fort Worth Zoo. Proceeds will benefit the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and the zoo's Texas Wild! Exhibit. Gala tickets are sold out.
Nelson will perform at the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup Media Party at Billy Bob's Texas in the historic stockyards district of Fort Worth (by invitation only), and Wariner will take the stage for the Breeders' Cup Party at Gilley's in Dallas on Championship day, Oct.30 (public by ticket).
Fanfest activities were made possible partly through the Grand Prairie Breeders' Cup Committee fundraiser, Thoroughbreds by Design, modeled after such fundraisers as "Horse Mania" in Lexington.
Thoroughbreds by Design raised money by selling full-size fiberglass Thoroughbred decoys to sponsors who were then responsible for the decoration, name and display of the horse. The project resulted in a colorful display of 65 painted fiberglass horses stationed at participating businesses and schools in Grand Prairie and surrounding areas.
Sponsors were invited to donate their horses for auction to the Lone Star Park Charitable Foundation for Grand Prairie.
Visit www.gptx.org for a detailed schedule of FanFest events and locations.