What The WEG?!?
Picture this: it’s your first trip to the World’s most advanced sports stadium. Your friends came in town, you lucked out with suite tickets, and your outfit is on point. Even down to your coveted designer bag. You and your posse decide to use the rail line into town so you avoid all the traffic. As you are walking in, some guy in a jacket tells you that you’ll need to check your purse. Say what? “No thanks, I don’t check this one” you politely say and keep on walking. Only to be stopped by the security lady who says, “that bag is too big and not see through, you’ll need to check it or you can’t come in”. It took you 2 years to find a used version of this designer bag that was in incredible condition and within your budget. Your car is at a train station 20 miles out of the city so leaving it there isn’t an option. Should I mention you’ve suffered 2 thefts requiring insurance claims in the last 2 years? Even worse, it’s Spring but only 40 degrees outside, you are freezing because your killer outfit did not include a puffer coat, 5 of your friends are looking at you like you are crazy, & one of them is on crutches. This could very well be you at the WEG gates because that was I at the brand new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Clearly this new level of security is news to me; so let me share it with you as this is the new normal and WEG is following suit. You are no longer allowed to bring in non-clear bags that are larger than 12” x 6” x 12”. I have no doubt there will be people selling clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC square bags to you outside the gates, but do yourself a favor and learn from my ridiculous behavior: buy a small clutch that you don’t mind carrying, a clear purse or tote like this one from Gigi New York, or wear a jacket with pockets large enough to carry all of your stuff. Don’t even think about bringing your cooler or your dog. No water bottles, camel-backs, or Trojan horses filled with beer—yes, we actually pulled that one off for the Kentucky Derby infield circa 1994.
Bring your money, because you’ll be drinking and dining within the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) during your stay. I’ve heard amazing things about Blue Ginger, the sushi restaurant on the property. I know-I was surprised too! They have a myriad of restaurants from Italian, Mexican, to Roger’s Diner named after Roger Smith, one of the resort’s owners. You’ll find me every morning at Mane Street Coffee. My eventing team is planning on hitting restaurants outside of Mill Spring like the Purple Onion & Newman’s in nearby Saluda. Since there will be 500,000 of us visiting over 2 weeks, I’d recommend reservations everywhere. Trip Advisor has been my source since they have maps and reviews.
The WEG 2018 website has been upgraded over the last few months and is becoming more user friendly and informative. No doubt the ticketing and seating is confusing, but the housing page is worth visiting since they have compiled all of the available accommodations in the area. Tour companies are setting people up in surrounding cities like Ashville. That would be my pick since you can visit the Biltmore, which is a destination in and of its self. They have an amazing estate with gardens, a spa and a great winery (I recommend the Sangiovese). The Sierra Nevada brewery is just south of Ashville and on your way to TIEC. If you are into craft beer, you do not want to miss this state-of-the-art brewery. It is a completely green brewery and even sells it’s energy back to the city. I’ll toast to that! If you are on a budget and looking for a place to stay, I’d start stalking Facebook looking for friends on the Carolina border.
The ticket situation is interesting to say the least. You can’t pick your seats, and you may have to buy more sessions than you want just to get see the specific event you traveled hundreds of miles to attend. You can go VIP all the way and get a Patron or Hospitality package. These packages provide you housing on site, tables at venues with catering, and probably the most important: access to private bathrooms. Tickets will be electronic to minimize scalping. You can transfer your ticket but you can’t print it out and sell it on the street. Seat assignments have been sent out and I am apparently sitting by myself. I am certainly not a fan of how they sold seats, but we all love the same sport and I am looking forward to making friends with my seat-neighbors! If you want to sit with your friends who bought their tickets separately, you can email email@example.com with all of your ticket order numbers and they may be able to accommodate, but my thought is that since seats have been assigned, that horse has left the barn. I bought mine the second day they were available. Does that mean I’ll be in the Legends Club and under covered seating, or up close and in the elements? Who knows, it’s up to chance so bring your poncho people.
Speaking of ponchos, this is not the most fashion forward event. Bring layers because it will get cold, walking shoes, band-aids for blisters, and shades for the sunshine. And If you forget something, don’t worry--WEG will be selling it. There will be a Vendor Village located at the entrances to the WEG venue so expect high foot traffic, and a high AmEx bill. For many of us, attending WEG is a once in a lifetime event. The excitement is contagious and even my non-horsey husband is coming. I’ve got him settled in for some sport shooting and golf when he isn’t trekking the cross-country course with me. Check back with us for more information and ideas on how to turn your trip to WEG into your ultimate celebration of the horse.