Celebration Board member John T. Bobo presents the Celebration Ambassador award to Director Emeritus Virgil Johnson.  (TWHNC Photo).

Shelbyville, TN.  – The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration entertained its seasonal and part-time employees at its annual Appreciation Dinner on Tuesday night, November 18th.  This year’s event took place on the floor of Calsonic Arena and some 200 people attended the casual affair.  In addition to the scrumptious meal of barbeque, chicken and all the fixings attendees enjoyed time together visiting with one another. 

Celebration Board Vice-Chairman Charles McDonald told those in attendance how much each was appreciated and thanked them for their part in making the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration® the world’s greatest horse show.  He noted that “you are the one that people meet, get their questions answered from and remember once they leave our fair city.”

One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the Celebration Ambassador Award to Director Emeritus Virgil Johnson.  John T. Bobo, Celebration Board member and past chairman made the presentation.  The annual award is presented to someone who represents The Celebration in their every day walk.  This past November Johnson was called upon by the Board of Directors to serve as Interim CEO of the organization while a search was conducted for someone to fill that position permanently. 

This appointment followed a storied past of service that Johnson had given to The Celebration which dated back to 1991 when he was elected to the TWHNC Association.  He was selected to serve on its Board of Directors in 1993 and concluded his tenure by serving as Chairman in 2002 – 2003. 

During Johnson’s time on the board he served as Chairman of the Property Committee and oversaw many capital improvement projects on the grounds, most notably The Celebration Plaza, covering of Champions Arena and the replacement of 27 barns with new structures.  Johnson was also inducted into the Celebration Hall of Fame in 2004. 

Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows said “It has been an honor for me to have worked with Virgil during my early months at The Celebration.  He is a great businessman, teacher, and ultimately a friend.  Virgil is certainly a Celebration Ambassador.”

The evening was concluded with Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows again thanking all of the Celebration staff members for their efforts.

The 71st Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is slated for August 26th – September 5th, 2009 at the Historic Celebration Grounds in Shelbyville, TN.