SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – Over the past 26 years, there’s probably been as much reminiscing about an old willow tree that was a warm-up ring icon as there were stories told under it during the 30 years it graced The Celebration Grounds in Shelbyville.  Those days of yesteryear are now a reality again with the re-planting of what some call “The Whittlin’ Tree” in the middle of the outdoor warmup ring.

Never a show season and seldom a day or week has gone by during that quarter-century without a comment about bringing a tree back to the warm-up ring as sort of a throw-back to a simpler time for everyone.

What-A-Horse founder and host, Jerry Harris, took on the tree project as a personal mission to bring back a great symbol of the “good old days.”

“That tree is just something the old-timers remember and cherish,” said Harris.  “Bringing it back is simply a sign that we all remember the good times and can embrace the history of this event while we continue to move forward.”

Harris took the idea to new Celebration CEO Doyle Meadows and things started moving.

“I’d gotten comments since I first arrived about the tree,” said Meadows.  “Jerry came in with a plan and folks who were willing to help make it happen.  From there, it was an easy decision to move forward and bring something back that has remained in the memory of Celebration fans for so many years.”

Hawkersmith & Sons Nursery of Tullahoma provided the new willow tree while Richard and Gail Greer took care of getting it planted.  The tree that was planted is eight inches in diameter and approximately 30-feet tall.

 There is a monument underneath the new tree with the following inscription:
Re-planted May 22, 2008

Special thanks to:
Hawkersmith & Sons Nursery
Richard & Gail Greer

We look to the future
By bringing back the past.

The Celebration and all those that had a part in bringing the tree back to the Historic Grounds hopes it brings back wonderful memories for many years to come.  There’s also hope that some of the stories told under that tree might even be true!