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New Banners Fly, Ridgeway Wins Art Contest

The call went out and artists answered. Did they ever! The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is proud to announce the winner of its art contest to design the new street banners that now fly proudly throughout the historic Celebration Grounds.

Memphis native Judson Ridgway, now of Lexington, Ky., came out on top of the numerous entries received from interested artists from coast to coast.

"I’m just excited to be a part of the whole fanfare that is The Celebration," said Ridgway. "I chose the color scheme of a blue ribbon on a field of red for a couple of reasons. I could picture all those red banners waving over The Celebration® and just knew they would get noticed. I am also big on anything patriotic and I think that red, white and blue always strikes a chord with Americans—and it’s a good thing to show the hometown colors waving when hosting huge international events such as The Celebration®." The contest was open to all ages and abilities.

Several artists provided multiple entries to the contest. Early this year, all of the entries were displayed and were numbered. The judging panel reviewed all of the entries and turned in their top five choices. Points were awarded and one of Ridgway’s entries garnered the most points.

"I was very pleasantly surprised at the number and quality of entries we received," said Chip Walters, Celebration Director of Public and Media Relations. "This is the second time we’ve opened the design contest to the public and the talent and creativity we’ve seen both times is truly amazing."

Entries were judged on quality of design, creativity, theme and message, and reproducibility.

"This contest was further proof that The Celebration® means so much to so many people," said Celebration CEO Doyle Meadows. "It was very difficult for our selection panel to choose just one out of so many wonderful pieces of work. The time and effort each one of the artists put into their entries is very much appreciated."

Ridgway’s German grandmother from New York City tutored him in drawing and painting when he was a young child; while his older brother, also an artist, influenced his knowledge and technique. Judson's work is inspired by rich traditions and classic compositions. His portfolio includes equestrian life, sporting dogs and portraiture.

"My good friend Bill Lyon invited me down to Shelbyville last year for the first time," Ridgway added. He was showing some of my work at Calsonic and I got to spend some time watching the events. As a current resident of Lexington, Kentucky, the sights and sounds of equestrian life everyday surround me but the enthusiasm I witnessed in Shelbyville took me by surprise. Being from the Volunteer State myself, I wanted to be a part of all that Shelbyville and The Celebration® had to offer."

His first trip to The Celebration® may have been the overall motivation, but the artist says it was a specific piece of art he was working on that focused his vision for what the banners should look like.

"I had recently completed a work of Julie Grider aboard The Sky Command and I liked how the ribbons were waving in the photo I was using. I knew that the blue ribbon was the single goal of every horse and rider so I made the ribbon the theme of my banner design."

An alumnus of Ole Miss, Judson has called such places as Los Angeles, Vail, and Washington, DC home. He currently lives in Lexington, KY with his wife and four children. Examples of his equestrian artwork can be seen at The Celebration® and other competitions through Bill Lyon’s Fine Art Commissions—a long time art vendor with our events. Ridgway’s current works can also be viewed through his website,

Production of the new banners is now complete. They were installed recently and will remain flying through the summer show season.

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