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Celebration Honors Employees at Appreciation Dinner



SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The focus was on the people at the 2003 Celebration Appreciation Dinner held at the Blue Ribbon Circle Club Thursday, Nov. 6.

Nearly 200 Celebration employees and guests gathered for the annual “Thank You” from the Celebration and its board of directors to the 20 full-time staff members and the army of nearly 400 seasonal workers that give the Celebration its personality and status as the World’s Greatest Horse Show.

“We have a terrific horse and wonderful facilities,” said Celebration board chairman Pat Marsh. “But it’s our people who take this from being just a big horse show to the wonderful event that people look forward to coming back for year after year.”

The Celebration was listed as a Top-20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society for the 15th consecutive year in 2003. In addition, information on the 2003 show was picked up by the travel section of the New York Times as well the Los Angeles Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“It’s not easy to be out there on the front line for nearly two weeks and continue to smile and make our customers feel welcome,” continued Marsh. “Most of the positive comments we receive are about people that our customers deal with while they are in town. They like to see the same people year after year.”

The 2003 Celebration set all-time records for actual attendance, entries, horses entered and horses shown. Over 161,000 fans came through the turnstiles this year, including a capacity-plus crowd of over 29,000 on the final night when The Whole Nine Yards was crowned World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse.

The long time of service by many of the employees was pointed out by CEO Ron Thomas when they were called up to receive a gift for their efforts. Leading the longevity parade was sound engineer Calvin Kincaid, who completed his 46th Celebration this year. Director of security David Nash and accounting manager Betty Rutledge have been part of the company for nearly 30 years each.

Thomas was also singled out and acknowledged for his leadership as chief executive officer for the last 20 years. Directors John T. Bobo and Bailey Little presented Thomas with a gift on behalf of the board. A standing ovation by his employees was one of the more moving moments of the night.

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