from what i saw in a kento paper
Kenton National won’t open; victim of economy
By DAN ROBINSON
Times staff writer
Labor Day weekend in Hardin County will be different this year.
For 54 years bargain hunters, vendors, music fans and dog-racing participants from across the nation made an annual pilgrimage to the county for the Kenton National dog races. But the gates will be closed this year as the event became the latest casualty of the sagging economy.
Co-owner Joyce Ross said the family searched for an option to keep the Kenton National open up to the last possible minute, but Saturday reached the conclusion their only reasonable plan was to close for at least this year.
"This is due to the current state of the economy," Ross said today. "Things have gotten so much worse so quickly, we are very concerned with what it will be like in September. With families facing foreclosures and losing their jobs, it wouldn’t make sense for them to travel to Kenton. We tried to figure out a way to do it; maybe make it smaller, more efficient, but we’re just not going to try it this year."
While the potential for attendance to suffer due to the economy, Ross said, the Kenton National was also facing price increases "across the board."
"Our costs have sky-rocketed," she said. "Worker’s compensation, insurance, supplies, postage, pretty well across the board, the costs have gone up."
For the time being, said Ross, the southern half of the grounds will be kept as they are, but the northern section will be used for hay fields. Should things change, she continued, the hay can be cut and the cattle removed for a Labor Day event following this year, but Ross said should that happen, the event would not be the traditional Kenton National.
With plans canceled for this year, it would be difficult for the National to start over, said Ross. Is this the end of the line?
"For the flea market it is," she said of what has been advertised as the nation’s largest. "We would love to see the concerts go ahead, but we’re not sure that will happen."
And the dog races?
"We just have to wait and see," said Ross.
The Ross family is sending postcards to every vendor, camper and participant in the annual event in hopes they have enough time to adjust their Labor Day schedules.
"It’s a shame," said Jill Taylor, manager of Jump ‘N Jim’s in Kenton. "That is our best weekend of the year. This will affect us quite a bit. It’s disappointing."
"That is always a good weekend for us," said Jerry Burrey, owner of Hardin Motors. "This will hurt the whole area. The **** chase brings in a lot of money to the whole county."