SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration has selected Chris Bobo, Derek Bonner, Brent Grider, David Sisk and Dale Watts to judge its 83rd Annual Celebration, the premier event on the Tennessee Walking Horse industry’s calendar. The panel will include a newcomer to center ring in Watts and includes judges from Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and Mississippi.

“We are excited about this panel which includes such a diverse geographic representation and includes some valuable experience along with a newcomer that recently judged our Fun Show. We look forward to a great Celebration that continues the momentum we’ve seen thus far this show season,” said Celebration CEO Warren Wells.

The Celebration affiliates with the SHOW Horse Industry Organization and thus selects is judges from the SHOW HIO certified judges’ list.  The SHOW HIO has 70 total judges but only 54 of which hold a AAA or better license, which is a Celebration requirement.  The Celebration sends an email to all AAA or better judges asking if they have a desire and availability to judge The Celebration and would like to be considered.  Of the 54 eligible, 28 responded they would like to be considered.  

The Celebration has a committee that vets the candidates and puts together a slate that is then ratified by the entire board.  Both the committee and board votes only require a majority vote.

Sisk, from Columbia, Tenn., will be marking the cards for the fourth time. Sisk previously judged the Celebration in 2014, 2015 and 2018. Sisk has judged the Fun Show, Tunica, Gulf Coast Charity, North Carolina Championships, Alabama Jubilee, Mississippi Charity and National Trainers’ Show demonstrating his appeal across a wide range of the industry. Sisk also just judged the Christmas in July show over the 4th.

Bobo, from Shelbyville, Tenn., will also be making his fourth appearance in center ring having judged The Celebration previously in 2012, 2016 and 2017.  Bobo also judged the Christmas in July show over the 4th and has almost every major show on his resume, including the International Pleasure and Colt show.  He has also judged the Fun Show, Tunica, Gulf Coast Charity, Mississippi Charity, Alabama Jubilee, North Carolina Championships and Pulaski just to name a few.

Bonner, from Mooresboro, N.C., will be making his third trip to judge the world championships.  Bonner previously judged the Celebration in 2013 and 2015.  Bonner judged the Columbia Spring Jubilee this year and has also judged the Fun Show, Mississippi Charity, multiple 4th of July shows, National Trainers’ Show and FAST Spring Showcase.

Grider, from Columbia, Ky., will be judging the Celebration for the second time with his first being in 2012.  Grider has judged most of the industry’s premier events and also judged the Columbia Spring Jubilee this year.  Grider has judged multiple times at the Columbia Spring Jubilee as well as judging the Kentucky Celebration, Alabama Jubilee, Gulf Coast Charity, National Trainers’ Show three times, Marshall County and at the 4th of July.

Watts, from Summit, Miss., doubles as a walking horse trainer and also as a Hall of Fame girls and boys high school basketball coach in Mississippi. Watts will be marking the cards for the first time, but recently worked for The Celebration at its 2021 Spring Fun Show. Watts has also previously judged Woodbury Lions Club, Alabama Jubilee, North Carolina Championships, FAST Spring Showcase and Marshall County.

“It is the board’s goal each year to put forth a panel capable of judging at the highest level in our halter, pleasure and performance divisions. We feel confident this group meets that standard and provides all of our exhibitors with a level playing field,” said Celebration Board Chairman David Crowell.

The 83rd Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration will be held August 25th – September 4th.  For more information, please visit