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[RC] Tevis Sponsorship - KimFue

I am glad to see that others were bothered by sponsorship displays at the Tevis this year.  I thought about it for a couple days and finally decided to write a letter to the board of governors.  It probably won't change any minds or do any good but it certainly made me feel better.  Here is a copy of the letter I sent if anyone is interested.
Dear Western States Board of Governors,
      I have taken a few days to decide if I should write this letter and give my opinion on the International Emirates Endurance Village sponsorship.  The way this sponsorship was displayed at the 50th anniversary running of the Tevis Cup bothered me so much that I decided to be honest with myself and that I should write this letter.
     I have not been involved in the Tevis ride as long as many of you and do not have as many buckles as most on the board.  The first Tevis I attended was as a spectator was in 1989 and since that time my goal every year is to have a horse ready to take to this ride.  I don't think I would still be involved with endurance riding if the Western States Trail Ride ceased to exist.
     I had the ride of a lifetime this year but the dark cloud over my Tevis experience was the gaudy display of International Endurance Village banners, T shirts, hats, pins, bags, dried fruit, etc., at the staging area at Robie Park and at the awards ceremony.  It was not the class act that I would expect from an organization like yours.  It really looked like your "crown jewel" sponsor had taken over the entire ride.  There were some friends that were attending the Tevis for the first time and they thought the International Emirates Endurance Village was actually managing the ride!  I was disgusted that a belt buckle was presented at the awards ceremony to a "sponsor".  A belt buckle (even similar to the Tevis buckle) should be reserved for those who actually complete the ride not those that help underwrite the ride!  Wouldn't a plaque or other memorabilia be much more appropriate?  Did the runners who completed the course along side our horses receive buckles?  If not, they should certainly be getting a buckle before any sponsor!
     I am sure that this crown jewel sponsor gave thousands of dollars ($35,000 was the figure floating around)....whatever the amount of the "donation"  it was certainly not enough to have their name plastered next to "Tevis" on every official banner, volunteer T shirt, official program, etc.  Hasn't your organization worked hard to earn the reputation of putting on the ultimate endurance event in the world?  Are you willing to sell or even share that reputation with  ANYONE who comes up with a lump sum of cash?  There must be other ways to honor a high dollar sponsor other then having their name plastered on everything.  I really equate this to allowing sponsorships of national treasures and then adding the name of the sponsor to that monument or park.  Can you imagine "Citibank's Yosemite National Park" or " Coca Cola's Grand Teton National Park".  It may seem outrageous but that is how this year's Tevis Cup ride looked to many of us that attended.  Perhaps next year the Crown Jewel Sponsor can give "bobble heads" of the 2004 Tevis and Haggin Cup winners to all that enter.  I know I would appreciate that more then the name of some organization never affilitated with the ride embroidered on EVERY ride item given to me.
     There have been many changes in endurance riding over the last 10 years.  Endurance horses selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars, 100 mile races with support vehicles on the trail following the horses through out the entire ride, 25 mile rides receiving national awards.  I guess change is inevitable in all things BUT I never would have dreamed the Tevis Cup ride would be the first big ride to "sell out" to the highest bidder.   The PR director for the International Emirates Endurance Village should get a big bonus for landing the marketing contract they received from your board.  Really unbelievable! 
      Well, thank you for allowing me to express my opinion.  I will continue to support the ride regardless of the cheesy marketing and PR tactics allowed to any crown jewel sponsor.  The challenge of the trail is too important for me to deter me from entering. 
Kim Fuess
Rider #89