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Johnson honored with Evan Lloyd Adamson Humanitarian Award




(Editor’s Note: The following script was read on Saturday evening, Aug. 24 by announcer Mark Farrar.)

Ladies and gentleman, The Celebration, in conjunction with the late Evan Lloyd Adamson are proud to present one of our most prestigious awards. The Evan Lloyd Adamson Humanitarian Award is named in honor of the former Celebration ringmaster, association member and director. 

The award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated “outstanding service and commitment” to The Celebration. The person honored will be a volunteer, Celebration staff member, or staff member of an organization supporting the Celebration.

The winner will have their name inscribed on a plaque in the main Celebration office listing all the winners as well as a cash honorarium. 

The Celebration and the Adamson family are proud to announce that the 2019 winner of this award is Mr. Virgil Johnson. 

Virgil Johnson grew up on a rural farm in southern Minnesota raising corn and soybeans. He is a United States Army Veteran and a graduate of Mankato State University in Minnesota. He moved to Shelbyville in 1970 to become the Jostens Plant Manager, where he was in that position for 24 years, from 1970 to 1994. 

Virgil has been an active member of the Optimist Civic Club for over 30 years and served as Club President and spent countless hours working in the donut booth during the Celebration for many years. He has also served one term on the Shelbyville Bedford County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, served as a local Cub Scout Master when his sons were in local schools as well as president of the local Little League baseball organization. 

Virgil served two terms as a county commissioner on the Bedford County Board of Commissioners and was a key leader in the successful effort to make an Industrial Development/Commerce Business Park a reality in Shelbyville and Bedford County. 

Virgil attended his first Celebration in 1963 while on a Jostens business trip from Minnesota to visit the local plant in Shelbyville, and has had the same Celebration box for 48 years. He joined the Celebration Association in 1990 and was selected to serve on the Celebration Board in 1993, subsequently serving as Chairman of the Board before stepping down at the mandatory age of 70.

As Chairman of the Celebration Facilities Committee he oversaw the construction of 30 new barns, the covering of Champions Arena, a new drainage system, the development of the Celebration Plaza as well as the included Owner’s Wall and Hall of Fame Monument. 

He served as Interim Celebration CEO for a lengthy period of time running the day-to-day operations of The Celebration.

Virgil has been an active member of the Christ Lutheran Church for over 48 years and still serves as their treasurer. Virgil has been married to his wife Pat for 63 years and they have four children, all graduates of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, one of whom is on the Celebration Board of Directors. 

Ladies and gentlemen, Virgil Johnson is just one of many who consistently goes above and beyond to make the Celebration special. Let’s give our 2019 Adamson Award recipient a round of applause. 

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