by Mark Davis

   Thirty minutes prior to show time, the main arena on the Celebration grounds is usually rather quiet.  Members of the center ring staff begin to gather, as do the fans around the arena.  The track is normally clean, smooth and waiting for official flag horse Counterfeit Dollar to make the first prints as he and legendary trainer Bud Seaton present the American flag to the crowds delight.
   However, add a late afternoon severe thunderstorm to the mix and the picture becomes quite different.  Members of the grounds crew attack the track with everything from shovels to skid steer loaders to road graders with their goal to be to get as much of the wet gravel out as possible and have the best possible footing for the evening's entries.  With all of this, the show still began promptly at 7 pm with the opening ceremonies.  The invocation for the evening was given by Bro. Geoff Geisman, pastor of the Fairlane Church of Christ of Shelbyville, Tenn., followed by the singing of the national anthem by the Bedford Express Quartet of Shelbyville, Tenn.
   First up, as always, on the Friday night schedule, the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Walking Geldings.  The A division found 11 of the 19 expected making the gate call to work for that chance to make the sentimental journey down victory lane.  Judge Mack Motes served as call judge for the division.  When the work was complete, it was a familiar face in the winner's circle, 2004 World Champions Miss Maisie McSwain and The American General.  They preceded this win by taking top honors at Panama City, Fla.'s Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, Shelbyville, Tenn.'s Walking To Make A Difference and Pulaski, Tenn.'s Red Carpet Horse Show Of The South.  With the win, the duo retired The Delight's Sundance Challenge Trophy and the Sherra Elizabeth Burgess Memorial Challenge Trophy in the division.  The American General is proudly owned by The Dan McSwain Family of Atlanta, Ga.  Dumas and Miller Carlton made an outstanding performance to garner the reserve honors for The Keith Carlton Family of Corinth, Miss.  Trevor Collier and Slam's Grand Tour picked up the third award for Collier & Hale of Rogersville, Ala.
   Division B brought 14 of the 19 with reservations to work as Judge Mike Sims called the gaits in the event.  Remember, talking about that familiar face.  Well, she's back again in this division.  Miss Maisie McSwain topped this division as well with Armed To Show, who also captured a divisional World Championship in 2004 and a 2005 win at Carrollton, Ga.'s Oak Mountain Classic. That's right, for the second consecutive year, Maisie McSwain has picked up two blue ribbons the the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Walking Geldings with her mounts The American General and Armed To Show.  Armed To Show is owned by The Dan McSwain Family of Atlanta, Ga.  Down Under and Ashley Diamond Pollack accepted the reserve honors for Pollack's Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Rachel Hyneman, who topped the Youth 11 and Under Mare division on Thursday night with Pusher's Special Design, received the third award in this division with Flashy Cash for the Hy-Steppin Farms, Rusty Hyneman and Caresse Mills of Germantown, Tenn.
   Class 50A, Two-Year-Old Geldings, saw 14 of the 19 scheduled teams hitting the track under the watchful eye of Judge Sam Sorrell and his cohorts.  Jazzs Jewell In Dixie and Joel Weaver put on a stellar performance to top the division for Rhiannon Barker of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Cesar Ritz and Link Webb accepted the red streamer for James and Peggy Vernon of Booneville, Miss and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Tony Montana - Scarface and Steve Dunn took home the yellow ribbon for The Mark Williams Family of Holly Springs,Miss.
   The B division of Class 50, Two-Year-Old Walking Geldings brought 12 of the 19 entered the gate to work for Judge Rollie Beard and staff.  Picking up the win, with the approval of the Friday night audience, was the team of Jose's Cancun Pusher and Charlie Green showing for Lisa McKay of Knoxville, Tenn.  Magic Spook and Dick Peebles were close behind in the reserve position for Lynne & Wally Harper of Loganville, Ga.  Another Georgia owned entry, Jose's Evening Sun and trainer Brock Tillman were third for Jack and Mary Mack Hall of Madison, Ga.
   The amateur riders were up next on the schedule for class 51, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions, with 20 of the 60 with reservations making the call to work for Call Judge Steve Brown and his panel.  Driving it onto the green in the division was the reigning National Trainers Show and Dickson County Horse Show Champions, The Titleist and Bill Johnson in the irons for William B. & Sandra Johnson of Atlanta, Ga. and Shelbyville, Tenn.  With a roar from the crowd, Papa's Smokin' Pusher and Kelly Sherman accepted the red streamer for Floyd Sherman of Dallas, Tx.  Turning in a quality performance, Hard Mountain Cash and owner/exhibitor Jane Meredith took home the yellow streamer to Roswell, Ga.
   The trainers were back for class 52A, Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions with 26 of 50 with reservations answering announcer Chip Walters' call the the big oval.  Judge Mack Motes served as call judge in the division.  2004 Two-Year-Old World Grand Champion PGA and trainer John Allan Callaway looked just as sharp as ever as they captured the 2005 preliminary win for Jimmy Bratcher and Robbie Lanier of Mansfield, Ga.  The duo had already recorded 2005 wins at Gallatin, Tenn.'s Lions Club Horse Show and Woodbury, Tenn.'s Lions Club Horse Show. Proving there was no "trick" to their talent, Card Trick and Jimmy McConnell made an excellent show for the reserve title for owners Bob & Mary Medina of Skillman, NJ.  America Online and Larry Edwards rode to the third award for The Paul Bryan Family of Thomasville, Ga.  
   Thirty-six of the 49 expected arrived for class 52B, Three-Year-Old Walking Stallions as Judge Mike Sims called the gaits in the division.  Due to the large turnout,
it was determined by the judging panel that additional work would be needed to tie the class.  From the original 36, sixteen were asked to remain for the workout to determine the World Champion in the division.  Proving that they were the real "STAR", STAR and Jackie McConnell made a phenomenal performance to top the division for Opel Moody of Batesville, Ark. STAR and McConnell had chalked up wins at Shelbyville, Tenn.'s Walking To Make A Difference Show, Memphis, Tenn's Germantown Charity Horse Show and Murfreesboro, Tenn.'s Bethesda Horse Show on their road leading to The Celebration. Casino At The Ritz and Knox Blackburn were hot on their heels in the reserve position for Moore & Walden of Catherine, Ala. and Ooltewah, Tenn.  It's Only A Game and Chad Baucom accepted third for Charles Clark of Charlotte, N.C.
   The young riders were back next for class 53A, Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings.  Sixteen of the 19 programmed entries hit the track for their shot at that first Celebration blue.  Judge Sam Sorrell served as call judge in the event.  Making that memorable ride out of the novice division with a big cheer from the crowd at the 2005 Celebration was the team of Bold Stroke's Attraction and owner/exhibitor Hailey Puckett of Wartrace, Tenn.  The Midnight Falcon and owner/exhibitor Chad Cotten of Murfreesboro, Tenn. preserved their novice status by making an excellent performance taking home the red streamer.  Taking the third award back to the Peach state, Love That Magic and Hannah Cole were proud to pick up the yellow ribbon for Jerry & Vicki Cole of Monroe, Ga.  
   Another division of young riders hoping to have their Celebration dreams come true were up next in class 53B, Owner-Amateur Novice Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Novice Walking Mares or Geldings.  Sixteen of the 21 expected made the call to work for Judge Rollie Beard and staff.  The first way of the ring one of the entries, Gen's Ten High and Sarah Margaret McGee, had a little misfortune as she fell from her horse requiring a delay in the action.  While she did have to be excused from the ring, both horse and rider did appear to be fine and the class did continue.  When the work was complete, it was the team of Pushover The Top and Robert Cortner, 2005 champions at Manchester, Tenn's Lions Club Horse Show and Murfreesboro, Tenn.'s Exchange Club Horse Show, making the victory lap for Jim, Holly and Robert Cortner of Winchester, Tenn.  She's High Falutin' and Claire Ottman picked up the reserve honors for Dwight & Elizabeth Ottman of Owensboro, Ky.  Stratton Weaver and C-Me Pushin' rode to third for Charles & Julie Wharton's Poplar Creek Farms of Winchester, Tenn.
   The Celebration's latest edition, the Park Performance division was up next on the schedule with class 54A, Park Performance Walking Horse, Four Years and Under with 18 of the 21 with reservations making the gate to work for Judge Steve Brown and his cohorts.  Picking up his second World title of the 2005 show, The Last Of My Cash topped the division with trainer Joel Weaver in the irons for Irby Stables of Mobile, Ala. and Shelbyville, Tenn.  Marty Irby captured the entry's first title in the amateur division on Thursday evening.  Danger In Motion and owner/exhibitor Don Hancock of Princeton, Ky. rode to accept the red ribbon in the division, while Robby Black and One Of Those Things tied third for Judy Shapiro of Ashfield, Mass. & Shelbyville, Tenn.
   The B division of class 54, Park Performance Walking Horses, Four Years and Under, brought 11 of 20 expected to work for Celebration acclaim in the event.  Judge Mack Motes served as call judge in the class.  It was a repeat winner in this division as well as last night's A division winner, All American Ritz, teamed up with trainer Howard Hamilton to pick up the title for Cynthia Wright of Jackson, Tenn.  Masquerading Masterpiece and Trish Wooten were a strong reserve in the division for Gene & Sandra Means of Bloomington, Calif. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  The Texas Outlaw and John Feltner, Jr. accepted third for Deborah Williams & Darden Gladney of Argyle, Texas and Homer, La.
   It was time for the young riders once again as class 55A brought the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-14 on Walking Ponies to the ring.  Seventeen of the 20 programmed entries worked as Judge Mike Sims called the gaits in the division.  As the class was the lineup, the rains that everyone had been expecting throughout the evening finally returned.  Of course, the Celebration diehards know that a little rain doesn't stop the show, everyone just puts on their ponchos and continues on.  When the cards were tied, announcer Chip Walters called the slightly damp team of Rudy Rudiger and Alexandria Holland, 2005 Champions at The Celebration's Spring Fun Show and Shelbyville, Tenn.'s Tony Rice Horse Show, to the winner's circle for The Children of Neal and Sherry Holland of Decatur, Alabama.  I'm Uncle Kracker and Haley Lane for Dr. Linda Jones & Haley Lane of Bainbridge, Ga.  Kaitlyn Beaty and Ritz Jr. were on top of their game as well to pick up the yellow streamer for Kenney & Beaty of Hillsboro, Ky. and Byrdstown, Tenn.
   As the rain continued to fall, 15 of the twenty expected in class 55B, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-14 on Walking Ponies took the track to work as Judge Sam Sorrell, looking dapper in his yellow Celebration poncho, called the gaits in the split.  Walking to the top of their division again was the 2004 World Championship team of the classic horse, Final Keeper and owner/exhibitor Morgan LeGate of Brentwood , Tenn.  The duo captured 2005 wins at Summertown, Tenn., Woodbury, Tenn. Lions Club Horse Show and Lynchburg, Tenn.'s Moore County Horse Show.  2004 Walking Pony WGC Silver Design, also a Classic Horse, and rider Barclay Woodward  rode to the red streamer for Ronnie and Jennifer Woodward of Hartselle, Ala.  Gen All The Way and Mandie Napier picked up third for Tim Napier of Union, Ky.
   There wasn't a dry eye . . .or any other body part for that matter, in the house as the call went out for class 56, Elite Owner-Amateur Gentleman Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings.  Fifteen of the 25 entered hit the rain soaked track to work for that enviable Celebration blue.  Judge Rollie Beard served as call judge in the event.  Jeff Smith of Greer, S.C. certainly made the right decision when he decided to go ahead and show, even if it was raining because he and his big sorrel gelding, Decisions Decisions were on the money to bring home the World Championship title.  They Call Me Sir and Bob Medina made the competition stand up and pay attention as they claimed the reserve honors for Bob and Mary Medina of Skillman, N.J.  Bound & Determined and Ed Breedlove accepted third for Melissa Breedlove of Buford, Ga.  
   Class 57, Four-Year-Old Walking Geldings (Canter) was up next on the agenda with 14 of 20 making the call to work for Judge Steve Brown and staff.  Exhibitors were glad that about half way through the class, the rain subsided, allowing the ponchos to come off once again.  Headed to the winner's circle in the division was the team of Highjacked and Rodney Dick, champions at the Manchester, Tenn. Lions Club Horse Show, for Lisa Baum of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Ramsey Bullington and Big Score Jubilee accepted the reserve honors for The Thomas Holton Family of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  First Watch and Allan Callaway rode to the third award for Don Pratt of Shawnee Mission, Kansas.
   The amateur riders took center stage once again for class 58, Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Mares.  Seventeen of the 38 with reservations made the call to work for Judge Mack Motes and the Celebration panel.  Those who did stick around through the rain to watch this class
were in for a real treat with no less than 10 current and past World Champions in the division, it certainly made for a competitive event.  However, there could only be one champion and that honor would go to the team of Silverado Spirit and Erin Graf up for David and Erin Graf of South Portsmouth , Ky.  This team picked up 2005 wins at the National Trainers' Show, Jackson, Miss.'s Mississippi State Charity Horse Show, the Columbia, Tenn. Spring Jubilee and Murfreesboro, Tenn.'s Bethesda Horse Show and won their title tonight by falling at the top of all five judges cards.  Reserve in the very talented division went to Miss Shout and Brooke Baker for The Keith Baker Family of Columbia, Tenn.  Miracle At The Ritz and Sandra Johnson accepted the third award for Waterfall Farms of Shelbyville, Tenn.
   Class 59, Owner-Amateur Riders 18 Years and Over on Park Pleasure Walking Horses was up next on the schedule with 14 of the 29 working for the honors as Judge Mike Sims called the gaits.  Gen's Major Coin and Sherri Pollack rode to the winner's circle for Pollack's Silver Spur Ranch of Saratoga, Calif. and Shelbyville, Tenn.  with a unanimous decision of the panel.  This win marked Gen's Major Coin's second win of the show.  The talented competitor scored a victory on Wednesday morning with trainer Ramsey Bullington.  Gold Danger and owner/exhibitor Susannah Borg of Ponte Verdra, Fla.  took home the reserve honors.  Sunfire's Pheonix and Harriett Van Dyke of Providience Forge, Va. accepted the third award.
   The final class of the evening was class 60, Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, Riders 18 and Over.  Topping the outstanding division was the team of Double Java and Scott Benham riding for The Mike Chiappari Family of Santa Rosa, Calif.  This talented horse already topped the Youth 11 and Under Lite Shod event with Jaqueline Holtschult in the irons on Friday Morning.  Reserve honors in the division went to Elegance By Design and Craig Swagerty for Nancy Lovato of Lehi, Utah.  They Call Me Junior and Kerry Fann accepted third for Mr. and Mrs. John Smith of Manchester, Tenn.
   One final victory pass and with that, the show was complete at roughly 12:35 am.  
   Remember, we get our first glimpse at the Aged Stallions on Saturday evening and the Junior Stallions on Sunday evening.  Also, the Walking Horse Trainers' Auxiliary's Dog Show will be taking place Sunday afternoon in Calsonic Arena and that's always a fun event not to be missed. Or, if everything else fails, just sit back, relax and take in all the sights and scenes that make up The Celebration.