Winter Coondog Classic draws from U. S., Canada -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Winter Coondog Classic draws from U. S., Canada

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  The weekend events will pump two million dollars into the area's economy. Along with the Mardi Gras celebration Marathon weekend, it's one of the top weekends of the year.

Local businesses were already seeing more people through their doors.

Wagging tails are greeting everyone who comes out to the Winter Classic this weekend, making the event hard to resist. But what's hard to resist is the 12,000 people expected to attend this event and each family expects to spend up to $400 on things like hotels, food, and gas right here in Albany.

This weekend Albany's gone to the dogs. They've taken over the Exchange Club Fairgrounds and local hotels, throwing a big bone to local businesses. The Kerns rarely miss the Winter Classic. They brought 'Simon' to compete from Lancaster, Kentucky, leaving the camper behind to spend money at Albany's hotels.

"We got down last night, lot of times we pull a camper, but we didn't bring one down this year," said Winter Classic attendee Rich Kerns.

At the Jameson Inn, they're near capacity with visitors in from as far away as Wisconsin and could sell out tonight. They say weekends like this are a welcome boost.

"On a typical weekend we're not as busy as we are now, these guys are bringing just great business, they're easy to take care of a good weekend to have them here," said Jameson Inn General Manager Beth Beisel.

Most hotels are at 80% capacity. Restaurants like LongHorn Steakhouse started feeling the influx of visitors last night. They're hoping western hospitality wins over guests and they're grateful the two events keep coming back, allowing them to give staff extra hours.

"We started adding extra staff actually Wednesday night, because we weren't sure how early everyone was going to be getting into town. Today, and tomorrow, and Sunday lunch we'll be pretty busy so we usually double our staff for events like this," said LongHorn Managing Partner Sam DeVaughn.

While the fairgrounds and plantations are getting a lot of attention, along with hotels and restaurants others stand to gain.

"They're going to spend money on gas, they're going to spend money eating out, lots of them are going to spend money shopping, running to Walmart, picking up supplies and if they've got their wives with them I'm sure they want to stop at the mall," said Lisa Riddle of the Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau hopes visitors won't have enough to do everything they want and will come back again to see other attractions, which is nothing to bark at. 

More than a thousand dogs representing kennels from across the U. S. and Canada will participate in the night hunts and dog shows, here.

The event is free so there's no reason not to stop out here at the fairgrounds.

In addition to businesses that benefit, the city and Albany-Dougherty Chamber of Commerce also make out when visitors pour into town. Hotels charge guests a sales tax and a 7% hotel tax that is split between the two.

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