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Judges selected for 80th Annual Celebration



SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration has selected Ross Campbell, Mike Hilley, David Sisk, Sam Sorrell and Leigh Stuart to judge the 80th Annual Celebration.  The Celebration will be held August 22nd -September 1st.

The Celebration went through an extensive process in selecting the judges for this year’s show.  The Celebration is affiliated with the SHOW HIO and selects from the judges licensed with the SHOW HIO.  The Celebration only considers those judges who hold a AAA license with SHOW and recently asked all AAA judges if they would be available to judge this year’s show before narrowing the list of those willing to judge.

The Celebration has a judges’ committee made up of three board members from the Celebration’s board of directors. That committee researches all of the candidates and weighs factors such as the experience of the judge, the knowledge of the rule book, and areas of strength in results of their previous judging assignments.

In addition, The Celebration likes to have a panel of judges that mixes both experience at previous Celebrations and newcomers to the judging duties of the world championship show. This year’s panel has three members, Sisk, Sorrell and Stuart, that have multiple appearances at The Celebration and two members, Campbell and Hilley, who will be making their first appearance.

Sorrell, from Lexington, Ky., has previously judged the Celebration five times, most recently in 2016. Sorrell has extensive experience across the country judging in 14 different states throughout his career. In addition to The Celebration, Sorrell has judged the Gulf Coast Charity, Fun Show, International, Tunica, Mississippi Charity and North Carolina Championship.  

Sisk, from Columbia, Tenn., has judged the Celebration in 2014 and 2015. Sisk has judged 23 shows since 2011 including major venues such as Gulf Coast Charity, North Carolina Championship, Alabama Jubilee, Tunica Fall Classic, Mississippi Charity, National Trainers’ Show, and Spring Fun Show. Sisk’s judging career has spanned 8 states.

Stuart, from Alvaton, Ky., has judged the Celebration three times previously, most recently in 2016. Stuart was instrumental in the development of the SHOW rulebook and is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable judges on the SHOW rulebook. Stuart has also judged the Tunica Fall Classic, Southern Championship, International, California Celebration and National Trainers’ Show.  Stuart has judged in seven different states.

Campbell, from Cullman Ala., will be making his first appearance but is no stranger to large venues and large classes. Campbell has judged in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and Florida during his career. He judged the Gulf Coast Charity, FAST Spring Showcase, Money Tree, and Tunica Fall Classic.  Campbell was also an associate judge at this year’s Spring Fun Show, a program initiated by The Celebration to evaluate judges and deepen the pool of judges considered to judge The Celebration and other premier events in the industry.

Hilley, from Shelbyville, Tenn., will also be making his first appearance. He has judged in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. Hilley has judged the Woodbury Lions Club, Tunica Fall Classic and this year judged the FAST Spring Showcase and the Christmas in July show held during the 4th of July weekend.

“This panel is a great mixture of experience and fresh faces to The Celebration. The process our committee went through was thorough and considered many good candidates. Each year it is tough to narrow the list to five, as we have many capable judges, but I am confident in this group and look forward to working with them to make the 80th Annual Celebration one of the best,” said Celebration CEO Mike Inman.

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