Skip to content

2008 Celebration Numbers Remain Solid

The 70th version of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration will go down as a success following 11 days and nights of competition in Shelbyville.

The horses are the drawing card for Tennessee’s oldest continually running event and when the entry deadline passed on August 5th, 4,222 entries had been made prior to the show.

“We were extremely pleased to see an increase in pre-entries,” said Celebration CEO and Show Chairman Dr. Doyle Meadows.  “Seeing an increase was important because it reversed a five-year period of declining entry numbers.”

The total number of entries increases after the show’s preliminary classes are completed and championship entries are made. 2,188 different horses made a total of 4,689 entries, including championship entries.  That represents a decrease of 55 over the total in 2007, less than one-third of an entry per class.  The 2,188 different horses entered are 36 more than last year.  Out of the total number of entries, 2,907 were actually presented in the showring, which is slightly less than showed in 2007, but still one of the highest percentages (62%) in recent years.

“To me, that is one of the most telling statistics about our entries,” continued Meadows. “It’s very gratifying to see the number of horses that come through that entry gate…even though the total number of entries may be down a bit.  It speaks loudly to the type of horses the trainers are presenting for inspection.  All credit for this should go to the owners, trainers, and exhibitors in the walking horse industry. It’s their hard work and dedication to the breed, and the excitement of the fans, that makes this world championship horse show what it is.”

The Celebration® added several new measures to the event in 2007 designed to ensure the health and safety of the horses on the Grounds, the integrity of the show, and the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.  Those measures were strengthened further in 2008.

Getting that many horses to the showring in a timely fashion is not an easy job.  The United States Department of Agriculture and National Horse Show Commission (NHSC) handle all inspections at the Celebration.

The success of the 2008 Celebration has not gone unnoticed by officials in state government.

“I feel the industry has made tremendous strides (since 2006),” said Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, during an appearance at the TWHBEA National Futurity.  “There is a much better feeling.  I really feel good about it.  It’s such an important industry to our state, a signature industry.  It may not be as big as Dolly Parton or Elvis, but it’s big.”

Bredesen, while not an owner, has been a proud rider on numerous occasions.

“In most parades I go to, I ride a Tennessee Walking Horse.  I take great pride in this breed.”

While no attendance records were broken in 2008, the numbers were still very encouraging to Celebration officials.  A total of 139,695 fans streamed through the historic gates of the Celebration Grounds.  The paid-attendance was also large with 215,096 tickets being sold for the ten nights of competition.

Weather can always have an effect on attendance at an outdoor event, such as The Celebration®.  Two nights of competition (Monday and Tuesday) were directly affected by steady rains that were the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay.

Once the weather broke on Wednesday, attendance picked back up to the levels of the previous year.

“With high fuel prices and the overall state of the economy, we are pleased with our attendance numbers this year.  But with the product we saw in the ring this year, we certainly have something very good to work with,” Meadows said. “Our board, our staff, and I can’t thank the fans enough who came in large numbers this year. It tells us that the product we’re presenting is what the public wants to see…beautiful and talented horses, great riders, and a terrific overall atmosphere.”

The show culminated with the crowning of “Santana’s El Nino” as the new World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse®, owned by Michael and Ann Jones of Lafayette, GA.  Santana’s El Nino gave trainer Link Webb of Lewisburg his very first World Grand Champion ride.

In addition to fifteen performances in the ring, The Celebration® featured a gigantic trade fair, nightly music in Celebration Plaza, five post-show street parties, stable decorating contest, TWHBEA Clinics, the WHT Auxiliary Dog Show, Barbecue Cookout, and many other activities.

“When you boil it down, it was a good year at The Celebration®,” remarked Meadows. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t be working hard every day to find ways to make the World’s Greatest Horse Show even better.  We will.”

More Stories

  • Latest Issue 6 21 21

    Read More
  • Be mindful of leadline participants

    The Tennessee Walking Horse industry is fortunate to have participants that range from small children to those that have experienced a full life. Many of our participants first introduction to the Tennessee Walking Horse is through our leadline classes... Read More
  • Obituary – Mary Ella Burke

    Mary Ella Burke of Wildersville, Tennessee, passed away Friday, June 4, 2021, at the age of 82. She is preceded in death by her husband, Earnest F. Burke, her mother Beaulah Johnson and father Ray Johnson... Read More
  • Walking Horse Owners Association presents the Charles B. Howard Memorial Fund Scholarship

    The Walking Horse Owners Association is honored to announce the Charles B. Howard Scholarship program for the year 2021-2022. Affectionately known as “Charlie”, he would want to help a career minded student to reach their potential and proudly present these first awards... Read More
  • Live from Liberty Lions Club

    ReporTV will provide live streaming coverage from the Liberty Lions Club Horse Show, Friday, June 18, beginning at 6:00 pm... Read More
  • The Money Tree Classic never disappoints!

    The WHTA Auxiliary has exciting news to announce! The MTC is proud to announce the addition of the Billy Gray Two Year Old Challenge, sponsored by David Williams... Read More
  • WHOA Cookeville Summer Classic horse show

    The Cookeville Summer Classic Horse Show will be held at the Hyder-Burk indoor arena on Saturday June 19 at 2390 Gainesboro Grade, Cookeville, TN. Casual show attire of a shirt with collar, long pants and boots is required... Read More
  • Obituary - H. Cloyd Philpott

    H. Cloyd Philpott, Jr. 84, of Lexington, NC passed away on Tuesday, June 8. A Memorial Service for Mr. Philpott will be held on Thursday, June 17th at 2pm at the First Presbyterian Church which is located at 15 West 3rd Ave, Lexington, NC... Read More
  • Christmas In July announces added money for Extravaganza classes!

    The Christmas In July Show to be held June 29-July 1, at the Bedford County Agricultural Center in Shelbyville will offer additional prize money in its extravaganza classes featuring two-year-olds and two other classes ending nightly sessions. In total, four classes will be paying $1000 first place money... Read More
  • Obituary – Mike Janeway

    Mike Edwin Janeway was born on August 1, 1944, in Maryville, TN. He was the son of Oscar Wiley Janeway and Mildred Montgomery Janeway. Mike’s involvement with horses began when he was an infant, because his grandfather, James Calvin Montgomery, always had horses... Read More