July 24th is the deadline for entering horses into the second edition of the Al Khalediah European Arabian Horse Festival. The international B-ranked show will take place during the 21st-22nd of August in Nowe Wrońska, on the premises of Polska AKF stud. We caught up with Hubert Kulesza, the general manager of Polska AKF and the Festival, and asked him about the changes compared to the first edition and plans for the future. What did the organizers prepare for us this year?
“Because we are meeting for the first time since last year’s festival, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in this event”, says Director Hubert Kulesza. “The entire organizational team that I was honored to lead. The stud’s owner and management board for their generosity, leeway and trust that we have enjoyed from them. All breeders that brought such fantastic horses to our show – it was thanks to them that the quality of the rivalry was so high. And finally the guests that delighted us with their presence, the sponsors, media patrons and all our supporters, who contributed to a positive result of the entire enterprise”.
“But back to your question about changes”, continues Director Kulesza. “First of all the ECAHO rank of the show has changed – from C to B. But we have not yet said our final word and in the future – counting upon the favor of ECAHO and hoping that they appreciate our work – we plan to raise the category even higher. I have to confess that our ambition is to have a title show here in Nowe Wrońska. A higher show rank naturally brings greater splendor. Another visible change is that we will have two additional championships, for yearling fillies and colts. And here we come to a matter that is sure to interest the exhibitors – the enlarging of the prize pool compared to last year. The gold medalists in the yearling categories will also receive Mercedes Benz cars. So in all there will be six championships – for yearlings, juniors and seniors. There will also be cash prizes. We listened attentively to numerous suggestions and opinions that reached us during and after the first edition of the show. An informal motto that currently accompanies us is “We’re changing for you”. And so many breeders said that the diversification of prizes in terms of value
awarded mainly the best horses, which received the champion titles. Of course the most valuable prizes, the cars, are staying. But we decided to encourage also those breeders that don’t have the resources to breed world champions now. We have “flattened” the prize system and agreed with those opinions which said that in-kind prizes are not always the most desirable. Therefore each horse that qualifies into the top five of its class will receive 4 thousand PLN (around 1000 EUR), regardless of the place he finishes at”.
Last year there were no tickets for the public. That’s another thing that will change this year. Director Kulesza says:
“We have carefully followed our fanpage on Facebook. Some said that the event is closed to regular people and has an almost snobbish character. Apart from breeders there is a whole group of Arabian enthusiasts and they were the ones who felt they couldn’t participate directly in this event. That’s why we are introducing tickets. I believe the price is very acceptable – a two day ticket is 50 PLN (around 12,5 EUR), so it is comparable to other field events in Poland and abroad. We have also widened the VIP ticket sales. This year they cost 250 EUR (1,000 PLN) for two days with a full catering service. This also corresponds to the current market prices. Within this fee each owner receives 2 invitations to the VIP tribune and 2 invitations to the honorary tribune. Those breeders that would like to bring a larger group of horses will be awarded with more VIP and honorary tribune invitations (with every 5 horses entered). The detailed specifics of these rules can be found on our website (www.akeahf.com). I would like to encourage everyone to come and I hope that the turnout will be no smaller than last year.”
We also asked about changes in the infrastructure, as there are intensive works taking place on the stud’s premises.
“It’s a project that will probably take a couple of years”, explains Director Kulesza. “But let’s hope that we will be able to finish the first phase before this year’s Festival. The area will be fenced, we are also building a paved parking lot near the show grounds. We want to give our guests the most comfortable conditions. This will especially be important if the weather is rainy. That’s when being able to walk across something solid from the car to your seat matters most. The pleasant countryside has its unique assets and offers a rustic atmosphere, but of course this goes hand in hand with a lack of infrastructure. Luckily this is changing and in many places in Poland things are getting better. Yet here we had to take matters into our own hands. Already in this season we are funding the reconstruction of the local road. Let’s hope that soon the asphalt will be laid down all the way to the parking lot for horse trailers and the provisional stables. In the years to come we are planning on paving the parking lot for trucks and still this year an improvement in the facilities for the equine staff. We will provide a sanitary container with showers, so that people taking care of the horses also have a greater working comfort”.
What is the organizers’ point of honor?
“We want guests and exhibitors to leave with a feeling of happiness”, smiles Director Kulesza. “Of course it is impossible to make everyone happy, but we hope that the Festival’s participants will notice the changes and confirm that they are going in the right direction. We are organizing the Festival not for ourselves, but mainly for breeders who now have a prestigious, international show in Poland and don’t have to travel 2 thousand km to high-ranked shows. We believe that our show is seen as such and that it will draw, like last year, a hundred horses”.
What was the biggest challenge last year? What is it now?
“The biggest challenge last year was for the show to take place at all, as our team had not yet participated in a mass event before. Although the number of last year’s guests did not fall under the legal term of “mass event”, still organizing something like this for several hundred people is very demanding in terms of logistics and overall preparation. During the first edition we started out from scratch, from concept to its realization. There were times of doubt, I myself had thoughts that this won’t work out. But thanks to solid work from the entire team and favorable circumstances such as the sunny weather – all turned out well. This year we are more experienced and wish to at least upkeep the standard from last year – that’s our minimum plan. But I think that the activities that we have implemented will raise the bar much higher, both in terms of infrastructure and catering, because for us the guests’ comfort is as important as the emotions during the competition. We want everyone to leave with a smile on their face”.
For a many year manager administering is a piece of cake. But how does Director Kulesza feel in a field made up of sports rivalry and show business?
“I don’t look at it that way”, says our interlocutor. “A good manager abides by the universal rules of administering, regardless whether it is production, trade, media – certain values remain unchanged. Because I am interested in various sport disciplines and – like everyone – show business, combining the two gives me plenty of satisfaction and urges me to work on my self-development. The essence of business is responsibility. This year, as an informal institution – because the festival is a kind of institution – we want to take a closer look at the local community, people in need. We have begun a cooperation with Professor Robert Karaszewski, the director of the Centre for Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility at the Nicolaus Copernicus
University in Toruń. We are drawing from European cultural heritage and Arabic countries, so we have a moral obligation to support initiatives for those in need. This will be something new, something that we want to draw attention to. We are supporting the Special Purpose and Education Center of Janusz Korczak in Toruń. We are planning an auction from which all proceeds will go to this center. Because our company’s activity (horse breeding, fruit-farming) has to base on respect for the natural environment, we also want to promote ecology among our guests.
The polskiearaby.pl portal is a media patron of the Festival