Congratulations and rave reviews were given to staff and supporters at the annaul Celebration Appreciation Dinner held at the Blue Ribbon Circle Club Thursday Evening, Nov. 9.

The dinner featured speakers Bob Garner, Larry Lowman, Charles Tisher and Walt Wood.

Garner, chairman of the Celebration board, said, "By any measure, this past Celebration was one of the very best we have ever had. We had big crowds, good weather, an outstanding number of entries, great judging, wonderful media coverage and clean, sound horses."

Garner added that the board is proud of the 27 new barns, new maintenance facility, Champions Arena, the Celebration Plaza and other additions and renovations to the grounds that were part of the $3.1 million improvement program.

Garner gavea a special thanks to owners, trainers, riders and grooms who bring their horses to the Celebration each year. He also thanked the sponsors on all levels.

John T. Bobo introduced Larry Lowman as "a visionary member of the horse business. Lowman has been involved in the walking horse business as a photographer, rider, owner, and as a co-owner of Bridlewood Farms breeding facility.

"Larry is always thinking how to promote Shelbyville and this great breed," said Bobo.

Larry Lowman reminisced about the walking horse business with a time-line of events spanning his years of involvement in the industry." When I look around this room, and I look around this business and wonder about the growth, the growth of this industry is right here with us," Lowman said. 'It is in our hearts. It is in our minds. It is in our dreams. As far as I'm concerned we can go as big as we want to. All we have to do is dream."

Walt Wood, executive director of the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce, gave a brief overview of what the walking horse industry means locally. He related the story of Wal-Mart selecting Shelbyville and Bedford County for a fresh produce and food distribution center. After Wood showed Wal-Mart executives the industrial site across from the airport, which they eventually chose, he took them on what he planned to be an extensive tour of the city and county. The first - and only - stop on the tour turned out to be the Celebration.

"We got out and I started telling them about the Celebration. I told them about the number of horses involved, the number of trainers, the spectators that attend, the impact it has on the local economy and the civic clubs' work. We did not leave the Celebration grounds. I couldn't get them back in the van," said Wood.

Charles Tisher, an insurance executive from Maury County who served as ring clert in the Celebration's center ring for 12 years, told several humerous stories relating to those years he served. He also complimented the judges at Celebration 2000. "People are still talking about the top horses coming to the top in every class," Tisher said. "If you can have that type of thing being said about you when the show is over, you are very fortunate. That doesn't happen all the time."

Virgil Johnson of the Celebration board gave closing remarks. "Because of you people, we know that the Celebration is in good hands," said Johnson. "Your friendliness is one of the reasons that people want to come back to the Celebration year after year. Thank you for the pride you have in your community and the Celebration. It is onward and upward for Celebration 2001."