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The Celebration Lives Up To Its Name




The Celebration Arena in Shelbyville will be the site for the 70th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.  The event has been crowning World Grand Champions since 1939 and has been listed as a Top-20 Event in the Southeast for 21 consecutive years.  (TWHNC Photo)



SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – You’ve gotta hand it to the gentlemen who got together back in 1939 and came up with an event to honor the Tennessee Walking Horse and named it “The Celebration.” There may never have been an event that reflected its name more than the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

Each year, nearly a quarter-million fans will view eleven days and nights of competition among thousands of entries with the culmination coming on the Saturday night before Labor Day when the World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse is crowned. It’s a “truly-Tennessee” spectacle like no other.

The Celebration is the term generally used to identify both the event and the organization that manages and presents it. The idea for a Walking Horse "festival" (later identified as the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration) is generally credited to the late Henry Davis of Wartrace, TN.

It began when Davis went to nearby Winchester one spring day in 1939 and observed the Crimson Clover Festival. He became very enthusiastic about what he saw and returned to Shelbyville with the idea that his home county should have a festival to celebrate their most important asset - the Tennessee Walking Horse.

The idea was cultivated into the first Celebration on September 7, 8, and 9, 1939. It has been held every year, without interruption, since.

The Celebration has garnered its fair share of notoriety from the tourism industry as well, being named a Top-20 Event by Southeast Tourism for 21 consecutive years. In addition, The Celebration has been featured in national publications such as Progressive Farmer and American Profile magazines and was listed this year in a new travel book, 1,000 Places in the USA and Canada To See Before You Die.

Those RV’s and horse trailers also mean big bucks to Middle Tennessee. The most recent estimate is that the economic impact of The Celebration is approximately $38-million annually and many of those dollars come from exhibitors, owners, and fans who come from 40 states and several foreign countries to celebrate one of the most beautiful and graceful of all creatures.

For the first time in its history, The Celebration did not crown a World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse in 2006.  In 2007, Celebration officials announced a series of initiatives designed to help ensure the health and safety of horses and people at the event, the integrity of the event, and the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.

Those initiatives were well-received and a popular champion was crowned at the 69th world championship horse show.  Master of Jazz, under the guidance of trainer Jimmy McConnell, became the champion of champions for his owners, Lee Wall and Mike McGartland.

In addition to the horse show, visitors can enjoy the Celebration Trade Fair, Barbecue Cookout, Dog Show, The Tennessee Walking Horse Museum in nearby Lynchburg, and free clinics on care, training and horsemanship from the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association.

Again in 2008, The Celebration can be viewed by anyone in the world with an internet connection.  Streaming video of each performance is being made available on a pay-per-view basis and can be gotten by logging on to twhnc.com.

Its great disposition along with a smooth and easy gate have made the Tennessee Walking Horse the undisputed showring champion.  So remember, it’s Celebration time.  Isn’t it about time you experienced what The Celebration® is all about.  This year’s Celebration runs from August 20-30.

The 2008 Celebration features 191 total classes (including split classes) made up of 4,222 pre-entries.  Total entries are expected to climb well over 4,500 once championship entries are made.

For more information on The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, click on their website at www.twhnc.com or give them a call at 931-684-5915.

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