By Sadie Fowler

Crews were lined up, literally, yesterday revamping the grounds of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, which kicks off later this month. On Monday, Aug. 6, cranes lifted workman more than 100 feet into the air so that lights could be replaced and the press box revamped.

Specifically, arena lighting was changed to LED fixtures and updates in the press box included painting over the tradition brown color to the new “Blue Ribbon Blue” and replacing all the windows so they are energy efficient “E” class. 

“These initiatives speak to the Board’s commitment, not only to the traditions of the Celebration, but also a commitment to all the people who make the Celebration the icon that it is,” said Mike Inman, Celebration CEO. 

Together these two initiatives will total nearly $250,000 of capital investment into the big oval. Inman said that last year, during the championship nights of the Celebration, they experienced trouble in that many of the light fixtures failed to come back on in a timely fashion once they were turned off for the spotlight rides.  

“Out of concern that the lighting might fail to come back on at all the decision was made not to turn the lights off for the world grand championship rides until the very last class on Saturday night,” Inman said. “Realizing that the ride under the spotlight is one of the Celebration’s strongest and most cherished tradition for exhibitors, trainers, and spectators, the Celebration board was determined to find a way to replace the original lighting so the spotlight tradition can go on. This work is the result of that decision.” 

Coupled with the lighting change, the press box makeover addresses both maintenance needs and the simple need to update it stylistically.  “So far reaction to the new look has been extremely positive,” Inman said. “I’m grateful to the support of all who make projects like this possible.”