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Remembering the History of the East TN Classic Horse Show



Editor's note: the following was submitted by Amy Starnes

In just a few weeks The ETWH “Classic” will be celebrating 50 years of horse shows. I, Amy Starnes, tried to scribe as some of the keepers of  “Classic history” told me how the show came to be. Dana Kite, Bobby Hauk, and Mike Carter recalled many memories of great horses, great trainers, and wonderful friends that had a part in pulling the Classic together and kept the show together throughout 50 years.

I spoke to Mr. Dana Kite who told me the following: Now, just picture this image, back in 1969 horsemen John T. Carter, Dana Kite, Russell “Pop” Wagner, Jerry Dean, H.B. Hauk, Bob Piercy, and Fred Lane meeting at the Gray Station Fairground in a meeting room set up for local Girl Scouts, a room with childrens’ chairs and childrens’ tables. Even though the chairs and tables were small the men had a plan for the beginning of a great horse show.  Another group of men, called the Shriners, joined into the plan and the work to pull the show together had begun.

Thus, with the determination of some great horsemen and community support as the Shriner’s assisted with class sponsorships, 50 years ago the first meeting of the show, to be named The East Tennessee Walking Horse Classic Horse Show was created.

Dana spoke of the Gray Station Fairgrounds as the site for the first Classic because there was a fenced well lighted ring, covered stalls, great areas to warmup, and plenty of room for a Tennessee Walking horse crowd to exhibit and spectate.  A two day show was planned with one judge, amateur and professional classes, and there was no qualifying in order to compete.  Another interesting memory, every horse was expected to canter except the two year olds. The specialty classes, no canter required, came on way later.

Bobby Hauk and Mike Carter added to the recall of the Classic’s history by saying, as time went on, many men and women were instrumental in doing the work that was required to make the “Classic” continue to grow.  Horse men and women such as Jerry Dean, Carl Marcum, Carolyn Hauk, Paul Hauk and Sam Kite, served for many years holding the positions of manager or president of the board needed to organize a very growing Classic horse show.

 Bobby Hauk is still on the rail at many shows, and he spoke of places in TN such as the Knoxville Zoo, White Pine, Gray Station, and as of 2018 the show was held at South Central Ruritan Park in Chuckey, TN.  Mike Carter remembered many horse and horse show enthusiasts that added their time and money to support the show.  Mike remembered friends like Mac Gilliam, Don and Barbara Moffitt, Dr. and Mrs. Willis Bowman, and never to be left out, the wives, like Mrs. Mike Carter, (also known as Donna) and Mrs. Don Moffitt, (also known as Barbara), that have worked tirelessly taking entries and doing any job they were asked to do.

Many great horsemen and great horse are still involved in the memories of the East Tennessee Walking Horse Classic.  All the major horsemen, from North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and beyond were on Classic ground at some time or another. 

No matter the changes, where the show was held, and of course, battling weather and other influences that might shut a show down, the East TN Classic continues on. This year on June 15th, the show will again be in Chuckey, TN at the South Central Ruritan Ball Park. At a time of 5:00, the East TN Walking Horse Classic will celebrate 50 years of great horses and great horse enthusiasts that keep on making a horse show the place to be on a Saturday night. And on a very positive note, the Classic was voted one day show of the season by the East TN Association membership. A very proud award for the Classic to receive and we thank all the membership.

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