With its 2019 show celebrates 40 years of being on the cutting edge
Last year alone The Augusta Futurity in January of 2018 in James Brown Arena saw 550 entrants coming from 23 U.S. states plus as far as Canada and Italy.
It literally has poured millions of dollars into the local economy, becoming second only in annual tourism revenue to that spring golfing game held a few miles away on Washington Road.
William S. “Billy” Morris III, the Futurity’s show chairman and co-founder, has observed, “This show has been incredibly important to our state, to South Carolina, to the region and certainly to Augusta.
“It has had a good economic impact. It’s brought us entertainment. It’s brought us fun. It’s brought us a lot of people in here.”
Futurity Show Manager Sherry Fulmer last year talked about the show’s staying power.
She compared it to a popular everyday item that also has been around almost four decades: Post-it Notes which, like the Augusta show, started in 1980.
“It shows you how long the Augusta Futurity has been around — as long as Post-it Notes,” she said. “We’ve been around here for 39 years. We don’t feel like we’re going anywhere.”
And look at just some of the people it’s brought here as both serious and celebrity cutting horse competitors.
Country music superstars who have cut cows from the herds on that Georgia red clay dirt have included Tanya Tucker, The Bellamy Brothers (both David and Howard), Highway 101’s lead vocalist Cactus Moser and Grammy Award winner Lynn Anderson, who never promised you a rose garden.
There also have been Tony Award winner Betty Buckley (Grizabella in CATS), TV CHiPS star Larry Wilcox, movie star Linda Blair of The Exorcist and at least two Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductees: Lindy Burch and Barbara Schulte.
Two soul music legends taking part at Augusta Futurity parties in past years have included James Brown and Sharon Jones, who both wore western hats just for the Futurity.
Among the illustrious people who have served on the Futurity’s board of directors have been Mel Blount, four-time Super Bowl champion (Pittsburg Steelers), and Carl Smith, a multi-million selling country artist whose marriage to June Carter produced current country star Carlene Carter.
Much of the main reason for the Futurity’s longevity and local popularity is that it hasn’t been just about horses.
The Augusta Chronicle for many years has sponsored the annual Wrangler Family Fun Fest offering petting zoos, country music bands, cloggers and photographs taken aboard a Texas Longhorn steer.
Some of the best western theme merchandise also has been for sale in the vendor booths that have spilled over from the civic center to inside Bell Auditorium.
This January marks a milestone for The Augusta Futurity with its 40th annual show taking place Sunday, Jan. 13, through Saturday, Jan. 19, back in James Brown Arena with the big Futurity Open and Futurity Non-Pro final rounds on the last show night.
So put on your best western duds and drop by the civic center during the week to just say “howdy” and “thanks” to the good folks who volunteer and compete in the greatest cutting horse show east of the Mississippi River.
Article appears in the January 2019 issue of Augusta Magazine.