SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebrationsm held an informal meeting with members of the Shelbyville City Council, Bedford County Commission, and other local officials to update the group on activities within the walking horse industry and answer questions from the group.  The meeting was held at the Hall of Fame Club on January 29.
            Chairman David L. Howard and Celebration CEO Ron Thomas made presentations to the group updating them on the progress being made to overcome some of the hurdles that led to problems at the 2006 Celebration.
            “It’s a very important time in the history of our industry and things appear to be moving in a very positive direction at this time,” said Thomas.  “There are several benchmarks that we have identified that, over the next 60 days, will give us an even better indication of the overall direction of the industry and how it will impact The Celebrationsm “
            Both Howard and Thomas were extremely complimentary of the leadership of the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association.
            “It’s very simple…putting clean, sound horses in the showring is our number-one issue and second place isn’t even close.  If we can get a handle on that, it will take care of virtually every other issue out there,” said Thomas.  “I can’t tell you how proud I am of (WHTA President) Wink Groover and the way he is leading that organization right now.  The professional trainers are the lifeblood of our industry.  We will do all we can to encourage them to put their positive message into action for the 2007 show season and beyond.”
            In addition to the WHTA discussion, other topics included the TWHBEA’s search for a new Executive Director, the three-year Operating Plan, initiatives for 2007 put forth by the NHSC, and the role of the USDA APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) and it’s search for a replacement for Dr. Todd Behre.
            “I think we all learned a great deal from this meeting,” said Shelbyville City Manager Ed Craig.  “The Celebrationsm  and it’s continued success means so much to this community in so many ways.  It was good to hear from David and Ron and have the opportunity to ask some questions that have been on our minds for a while.  I left with a better understanding of the issues and feel good about the direction everything is moving.”
            The Celebrationsm is the longest continually-running event in the State of Tennessee, dating back to 1939 and sells nearly a quarter-million tickets annually.
            In a 2005 study commissioned by The Celebrationsm , the estimated economic impact of the world championship horse show was $38.5-million, with another estimated $15-20 million being brought into the area from events held year-round at Calsonic Arena.
            “Our industry in general and The Celebrationsm more specifically mean a great deal to the local economy,” remarked Thomas.  “This city and county has had a vested interest in the success of the industry since it began.”
            The 69th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebrationsm is scheduled for August 22-September 1, 2007 at the Historic Celebration Grounds in Shelbyville, Tenn.