For the past month, Billy Springer has been quietly working, meeting people and learning Bulloch County as he settles into his new job as manager of Bulloch County’s new multipurpose agricultural arena.
Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation officials didn’t announce Springer’s hiring until a social media post last week, allowing him to become acclimated to what promises to be an exciting, demanding and enjoyable job for the lifelong horseman.
Springer has a vast equestrian background but makes it clear that his job as arena manager will go far beyond horse shows and other equine events. He is excited about booking a varied assortment of events, including trade shows, concerts, flower and horticultural exhibits, tractor and car shows, as well as livestock shows for “cattle, sheep, swine, goat, llama, alpaca and canine,” he said.
Springer told the Statesboro Herald he and his family love Statesboro. He had been looking for a place to move from Hampton, Georgia, because his hometown had become too urban and he was “looking to make a change.” When he learned of the opening for arena manager, it was right up his alley.
“Statesboro and Bulloch County have so much to offer but still have a hometown feel,” he said.
It is a place he and wife Heather want to raise their son, Ryder, 3.
“I wanted to move my boy to a place that feels like a community,” he said. “I like that Statesboro is still a tight-knit community.”
Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Director Mike Rollins said he is excited about Springer coming aboard. He and others reviewed 50 applicants for the job and felt Springer is “most qualified — he is a good fit.”
He said Springer “possesses a really great personality and has the ability to communicate well. He is very well rounded.”
Springer’s vast experience in the equine industry was a major factor in his being chosen for the role, but his ability to book and market the facility as well as promote other events was a huge plus as well. Springer said he doesn’t want people to think his horse experience and love for equestrian activities will stop him from actively seeking a diverse lineup of events that will appeal and benefit everyone in the community.
“I cannot emphasize enough that the facility should be utilized for more than just horse shows,” he said. “I really want the public to consider it as a resource for a variety of uses.”
A 1992 University of Georgia graduate with a degree in agricultural economics, Springer was raised in the horse business. His father, Bill Springer, is a retired American Quarter Horse Association judge and trainer who was active in the business for over 41 years.
Billy Springer started competing over 40 years ago as a youth in the American Quarter Horse Association and has been judging equine shows for the last 27 years, including such events as the Tennessee State 4-H Championships and the American Ranch Horse Association World Championships.
Heather Springer is an accomplished horsewoman as well. Billy Springer loves competitive team roping, and his wife competes in American Quarter Horse shows.
He said he missed working with horses while in college and grew up working horses for his father. He would get one and ride it a while until his father said someone was interested in buying it, and then he would move to another, which he said helped him learn and grow in his knowledge and experience.
While he has always had horses as a sideline, he worked in construction until the economic decline struck in 2008. Then, Springer began judging horse shows and continuing to break and train horses for others, he said.
In the meantime, while the arena is still under construction, Springer is getting to know the area, talking with groups and individuals interested in booking events, and promoting the facility he says will be like no other in the region.
Other equestrian facilities in the state are really too big for many people and don’t offer what the Bulloch County arena will, he said.
“The demographics fit better. This will fit to a T,” he said. “There is really no nearby competition. I am excited to be here and want to see this facility used as much as possible by as many different events as possible.”
Rollins said the arena is expected to open in the fall. There have been a few delays and unexpected issues, and “things like painting have taken longer than expected,” he said. “We still have a lot of our own site work to do.”
But people are lining up to book events.
“There has been a tremendous amount of interest,” he said. “Several organizations have contacted us and I am really excited about this.”
Springer may be reached at (912) 489-9062.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.