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Celebration Association Holds Annual Appreciation Dinner




Celebration Ambassador Award recipient and Bedford County Mayor Eugene Ray proudly displays his award with his wife, Olivia.


SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration held its annual Appreciation Dinner on Tuesday night, November 17, at the Blue Ribbon Circle Club.  Nearly 200 people were in attendance for the festivities that honor full-time and seasonal employees and others who play a role during the world championship horse show.

Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows welcomed everyone and let those in attendance know how much he personally appreciated their continued support of The Celebration.

The focus of Celebration Board Chairman Charles McDonald's comments, as he addressed the honorees, was a "year of transitions" at The Celebration and in the walking horse industry.  McDonald is in the first of a two-year term as Chairman of The Celebration Board of Directors.  Stated McDonald, "Since 1939, the annual Celebration has grown to be an integral part of our community and an increasingly major economic contributor for the past 71 years.  But it could not have happened had it not been for you and the many community minded citizens that served in your roles since its inception."

Chairman McDonald noted the fractious condition of the Walking Horse Industry early in 2009 and the current economic situation as factors that had a bleak outlook for the 71st Celebration as late as July 1st.   Stated McDonald, "With the support of many industry organizations, including the Walking Horse Trainers Association, this community and people sitting in this room, we did survive and continue to make progress each day."

In closing his remarks McDonalds said, "I hope you realize how important each and every one of you is in the success of The Celebration. Sometimes it's easy for an event with such historical significance as The Celebration to overlook those that are truly responsible for its success. We hope we never do that!"

Celebration Board Treasurer Henry Hulan provided the closing remarks for the evening.  Hulan's comments were centered on two key words for which the evening focused:  appreciation and celebration.  He commended and thanked those in the room, and the community as a whole, for "stepping up" and making the 71st Annual Celebration the success that it was.

The final highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Celebration Ambassador Award.  Board member John T. Bobo presented the award to Bedford County Mayor Eugene Ray.  Bobo pointed out Ray's years of community service which include twenty-eight years as a county commissioner.  In twenty of those years Mayor Ray served as Chairman of the County Commission.

Bobo stated, "Mayor Ray has always been a strong supporter and advocate of The Celebration.  That was never more evident than in 2009, when Mayor personally met with industry leaders and officials in Washington, DC." Continued Bobo, "The Celebration and the community owe a great deal of gratitude to Mayor Ray."

The 72nd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is slated for August 25 - September 4 at the Historic Celebration Grounds in Shelbyville, Tenn.

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