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Celebration Judges

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - Celebration CEO Ron Thomas announced that the judging panel for the 67th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration has been selected. The group includes Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, TN, Stephen Brown of Yelm, Washington, Mack Motes of Shelbyville, TN, Mike Sims of Chattanooga, TN, and Sam Sorrell of Lexington, Ky.

"There's no doubt that this is a highly-qualified panel," said Celebration Board Chairman John T. Bobo. "We feel very honored that each has agreed to serve as a judge during our show."

While the group can easily be considered an experienced panel, one of the judges will be making his first appearance in center ring.

Beard would be considered the veteran of this group, having been part of The Celebration judging panel three times. The personable trainer judged the show in 1988, 1994, and in 2002.

Brown, Motes and Sims have each judged once at The Celebration.

Current trainer and multi-time WHTA President Mack Motes, will be returning to center ring for the first time since 1987.

 Mike Sims judged the 1999 Celebration as the first-timer among a group of experienced judges. Since then, he has judged many other highly-respected shows, continued to hone his skills and will be making his return to the big oval this year.

Stephen Brown is highly-respected among the leaders of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, most notably in the western United States. He was a member of the 1996 pleasure judging panel at The Celebration and has been involved in many other large shows, including the International Grand Championships.

Sam Sorrell is the only Celebration rookie in the group, but certainly caught the eye of the judging committee with the job he did as a judge at the 2004 Celebration Spring Fun Show and other high-profile shows in the area.

This is another terrific mix of veterans and newer judges," said Celebration CEO Ron Thomas. "We always like to bring new judges into the mix and let them work with those who have been under the microscope before. We're also very grateful to have someone of Rollie Beard's experience and demeanor to be a leader of this group."

The Celebration Judges Committee selects the panel. Boards of Directors of six different groups are written for their opinion. The responses are studied carefully by the TWHNC Judges Committee. Many factors are looked at, including past experience, their ability with performance and pleasure horses, geographic issues, etc.

"We want the input of the groups within the industry to help us make the most informed decision possible," relayed Thomas. "We need the input of the other organizations to put the best possible panel together that a world championship horse show deserves. With that in mind, I'm very comfortable with the group that was selected. They all have a grasp of the enormity of the show and how each and every class should be handled."

The 67th Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration runs August 24 - September 3 at the historic Celebration Grounds in Shelbyville. For more information on this year's show, call (931) 684-5915 or go to the Celebration's official website at

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