Georgia International Horse Park
Due to the growth of Rockdale County, Georgia in the late 1980s, the county was looking to expand its wastewater treatment system, but they were having to find alternative uses to strict environmental regulations on the local, state, and federal levels. The City of Conyers, Georgia found 1,139 acres (4.61 km2) of land on Georgia State Route 138 north of Interstate 20 that would have been suitable for land application.
Both the City Manager and the County Council were in the process of finding other uses for this land other than land application when Atlanta was awarded the 1996 Summer Olympics on September 18, 1990. This led to a change in plans from a city park to the development of the land that would later become the Georgia International Horse Park. As a result, an equestrian task force was developed to have the park developed, under cooperation with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG).
The proposed site was visited on August 7, 1991 with details about the land, the proposed facilities, and their post-Olympic usage. The Georgia International Horse Park became reality when it was approved by ACOG on October 21, 1991.
The Centennial Olympic Games
During the 1996 Summer Olympics, which ran from July 19 to August 4, over 600,000 people visited the track to witness events in equestrian, mountain biking, and the riding and running portions of the modern pentathlon events.
Among the event competitors who would gain fame ten years later were Kateřina Neumannová and Michael R. Matz. Neumannová competed in the women's mountain biking competition at the 1996 Summer Olympics would later win the gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in the women's 30 km freestyle mass start cross country skiing event. Matz earned a silver in Team show jumping event, and as a trainer, has two wins in Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing events and a Breeder's Cup win.
After the 1996 Summer Olympics, the area around the Georgia International Horse Park experienced growth surrounding the facility. This growth including several residential developments, the movement of First Baptist Church of Conyers from downtown Conyers in late 2000, and the horse park into a facility for many conferences, including the East Atlanta Metro Church conference in September 2001 that included members of the Billy Graham Crusade.
The venue hosted several concerts over the years, primarily utilizing the main horse park arena and bleacher seating.
The Allman Brothers Concert (1997)
The facility hosted several high profile concerts in the years following the Olympics. The first was a performance by the Allman Brothers Band on July 4th, 1997. The legendary Southern rock band played a lengthy 21 song set, that was followed by an Independence Day fireworks show.
99X Big Day Out
Atlanta Alternative rock music radio station 99X produced two editions of their Big Day Out radio festival concerts at the Horse Park. The September 28, 1997 show featured Foo Fighters, The Offspring, Goldfinger, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Cowboy Mouth, Ear 2000, Local H, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Kingsized, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, DownPour, and Memory Dean. The September 12, 1998 edition featured Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Better Than Ezra, Goo Goo Dolls, Semisonic, Fuel, Fastball, K's Choice, Atheneum, Everything, Addict, Urge, Guster, Amazing Royal Crowns, Shawn Mullins, Jump, Little Children, Albert Hill, The Marvelous 3, Shock Lobo, Blacklight Posterboys, Wil's Drama, Another Man Down, and Seven Foot Politic.
Celebrate Freedom Atlanta 2007
On September 1, 2007, the park played host to the Celebrate Freedom 2007 concert, including evangelist Luis Palau. Among the sponsors were Ford Motor Company, Bugaboo Creek Steak House, and WFSH-FM in Atlanta. The event was televised by the Gospel Music Channel. Included were kid activities which also featured the VeggieTales, including The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie.
The VeggieTales characters (left to right) of Mr. Lunt, Pa Grape, and Larry the Cucumber on the main stage dressed up in costume for the film The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie which was released on January 11, 2008.
Celebrate Freedom Atlanta 2008
On August 30, 2008, the park hosted the Celebrate Freedom 2008 concert. Training involved for field ministers took place on the evening of August 27, 2008 at the First Baptist Church, located 2 miles (3 km) south of the park.
Georgia Perimeter College
Georgia Perimeter College planned on constructing a facility nearby by 2008, but negotiations between the city of Conyers and Georgia Perimeter College building a facility failed. The college instead constructed a facility in neighboring Newton County, Georgia.
- 1996 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 1. p. 540.
- 1996 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 3. pp. 453-4, 460.
- Celebrate Freedom Atlanta 2007 website
- Official website