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Shorter Celebration Night Performances?

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The fall and winter months at the historic Celebration Grounds in Shelbyville, Tenn., are times of review and planning. That’s no different this year with a considerable amount of time being spent on customer concerns and the like.

One of the most often heard concerns by ticket holders, exhibitors and owners, was the length of performances.

Recently, Celebration CEO Ron Thomas and the Celebration Board of Directors met with members of the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association Board of Directors to discuss the issue. Prior to the meeting, the Celebration staff researched each and every class from the 2003 Celebration from a time perspective.

Some of the results were startling. During the 11 days and nights of the show (excluding the TWHBEA Futurity) 79 timeouts were called due to equipment problems. The total length of these timeouts was 6 hours, 4 minutes, and 25 seconds, or an average of 5:01 per timeout.

Of particular interest was the opening night of the show, Thursday, Aug. 30. That evening, the performance ended at 12:58 a.m., but had a total of 15 timeouts that totaled nearly 69 minutes. The elimination of these timeouts would have had the show end at approximately 11:45 p.m.

“The number of timeouts is a concern for all parties involved,” said Celebration CEO Ron Thomas. “Everyone understands that a show with 185 classes and over 5,000 entries needs to keep moving. It is in the best interest for everyone to get the evening performances over between 11:00 p.m. and midnight each night.”

Further review of the timeouts called at the Celebration breaks down as follows: 23 for tail braces, 22 for thrown shoes, 6 for breast straps, 6 for action devices, 6 for stirrups, 4 for broken bands, 4 for broken bridles and 9 for various other equipment problems.

The two boards discussed possible solutions to the problem. One of the most-discussed solutions was to eliminate all timeouts in preliminary classes, but allow an excused entry (due to equipment failure) to return for championship competition.

This potential rule change would not affect timeouts during championship classes, where current timeout rules would still apply. Only 11 timeouts were called on the three championship nights for a total of 53:54, or an average of less than 18 minutes per night.

“There were several scenarios put on the table to get the evening performances over earlier,” explained Thomas. “Modifying the timeout rules was clearly the most attractive to all parties involved. Others included the simple elimination of some evening classes and the possibility of moving some padded classes to Champions Arena during the daytime.”

“We want The Celebration to be an ‘inclusive’ show, not exclusive,” said Celebration board chairman Pat Marsh. “Our discussion with the Trainers’ board was a great first step in moving forward toward finding a solution that works for everybody, most importantly the customers that have made The Celebration the great spectacle that it has become.”

Both groups will continue to study the situation and work on a possible solution.


Session Number Total Time

Wednesday a.m. 5 27:02

Thursday a.m. 5 31:17

Thursday p.m. 15 68:35

Friday a.m. 0 0:00

Friday p.m. 5 13:56

Saturday a.m. 0 0:00

Saturday p.m. 5 21:37

Sunday p.m. 7 14:12

Monday a.m. 1 2:03

Monday p.m. 11 47:12

Tuesday p.m. 8 39:35

Wednesday p.m. 6 21:28

Thursday p.m. 2 5:24

Friday p.m. 5 23:55

Saturday p.m. 4 24:35

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