SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - Plans and preparations for the 64th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, scheduled for August 21 through August 31 in Shelbyville, are well under way and increased security for those attending is one of the top priorities.

“The safety and security of our spectators, owners and exhibitors is of utmost importance to The Celebration,” said Director Charles McDonald, chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, as he discussed plans for the upcoming event. “Earlier this year Celebration Security Chief David Nash, Security Officer Mark Thomas and I met with representatives of the Tennessee Division of Homeland Security and the Tennessee Highway Patrol to plan and prepare additional security measures for this year’s event, which will attract more than 185,000 visitors to Shelbyville during the eleven day event,” he explained.

As a result of the events, which took place on September 11, 2001, an increased emphasis has been placed on security measures for venues, which attract large crowds. “We are extremely interested in protecting the safety of those people who choose to attend the Celebration, and all other events on our grounds, while we also respect their desire to enter the facilities without being hassled or delayed, so they can have a fun and an enjoyable time,” McDonald said.

Col. John Morgan, assistant director of the Tennessee Division of Homeland Security, Lt. Col. Mark Fagan, Lt. Steve Hazard and Sgt. Tom Franklin of the Tennessee Highway Patrol were among those involved in the early planning for this year’s event, outlining a plan which has been endorsed by the Celebration’s Board of Directors.

Based on recommendations from that meeting, visitors attending this year will see an increased presence of security personnel. Although it is not our intent to slow entry into the grounds, persons bringing in large or suspicious looking bags or totes may be asked to surrender those for inspection and search,” McDonald notes.

“Fortunately, we receive excellent cooperation and suppport from area emergency services agencies. Without the assistance of Shelbyville Police Chief Austin Swing, Fire Chief John Hable, Sheriff Clay Parker, EMS Director Chad Graham, Communications Center Director Cathy Mathis and their departments, our task would be more than our own security forces could handle. Add these to the help we receive from the Tennessee Highway Patrol and horse mounted patrols from Metro Nashville and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department, we are able to provide a safe and secure atmosphere for our world class event,” McDonald said.