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Celebration names judges for Fun Show



The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration has selected Rollie Beard, Brent Grider and Kenny Smith to adjudicate the 49th annual Spring Fun Show, scheduled for May 23-25 at the Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Each night’s performances begin at 6 p.m.

“This group has the desired blend of experience and freshness that The Celebration likes to incorporate into any judging panel,” said Celebration CEO Mike Inman. “They are more than capable of handing the judging duties of what is certain to be a collection of the best horses in the industry.”

Beard is one of the most experienced judges in the industry and has previously judged The Celebration eight times, most recent in 2014. In addition to The Celebration, Beard has judged most all major shows in the industry including Mississippi Charity, Gulf Coast Charity, the International, Tunica, the Red Carpet show in Pulaski, Columbia Spring Jubilee and Belfast.

Grider has also judged at The Celebration, marking the cards in 2012. Grider also has a wealth of experience at other major shows including the Kentucky Celebration, Alabama Jubilee, Columbia Spring Jubilee, Gulf Coast Charity, Lewisburg and the National Trainers’ Show, which Grider did for the second time this year.

A new face to the Celebration series of shows is Kenny Smith. Smith has previously judged the 2017 and 2018 Alabama Jubilee and also judged the National Trainers’ Show in 2018.  Smith has been a long-time horse owner and exhibitor as well as shown in the Amateur Owned & Trained divisions.

In 2018, The Celebration began “associate judges” for the Spring Fun Show in an effort to help continue to grow the judging pool and as a way to evaluate additional judges in the heat of battle during the Fun Show.  Last year, Ross Campbell and Grant Holt were the associate judges and Campbell went on to judge The Celebration later that same year.

“We are happy to build on the tremendous success of the associate judge system that began last year,” Inman said. “This initiative dramatically accelerates the process of expanding the pool of judges with Celebration experience. Three of the five judges at this year’s Fun Show will be making their Celebration-event debut in either the official or associate judge capacity.”

This year, Jason Hughes and Becky Barnes will fill out the associate judge roles and mark their cards on Thursday and Friday night of the Spring Fun Show.  Hughes has previously judged the Alabama Jubilee three times as well as Woodbury, National Trainers’ Show and North Carolina Championships.  Barnes has judged the 2018 WHTA Thanksgiving Classic, Marshall, Texas and other shows in the Kentucky circuit.

The Celebration will also conduct a trial run of electronic judging equipment at this year’s Fun Show. The Celebration hopes to speed the process of tying the classes and announcement of the results so as to reduce the time of the show and significantly decrease the amount of dead time at the show.  

“The use of electronic judging is eagerly anticipated and we are truly excited to evaluate its impact, both within center ring and for the spectator experience,” Inman said. 

If the program is successful, the hope is to have the program used at this year’s Celebration.

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