The Walking Horse Report recently sat down with Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows and Gulf Coast Charity Celebration Inc. board member Todd Fisher to discuss details surrounding their partnership for the 14th Annual Gulf Coast Charity Celebration.  The 2012 Gulf Coast Charity Celebration will be held April 26-28, 2012 at Frank Brown Park in Panama City Beach, Florida.  For details on sponsorship opportunities contact Connie Allen at or 931-684-5915 x.107.

Q – How did the partnership come about?
DM – All of us in the business need to work to maintain premier events across the county and the Gulf Coast Charity is no doubt one of those events that showcases our horse.  From the Celebration’s perspective it is important to keep these shows in the industry.
TF – The changing dynamics within the industry precipitated this need from our perspective and with a partner like The Celebration it is easier for us now to keep a pulse on the changing industry and environment in Middle Tennessee.  The Celebration helps our show stay on the cutting edge which has been a tradition of the Gulf Coast Charity show.
DM – It is important to note that The Celebration would not have been involved in the show if Todd Fisher and Ben Lee weren’t going to be key players and helping with the show.

Q – When did the idea of the partnership come about?
DM – Initial contact was made over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday and Todd and I have spent the last six weeks occupying a lot of our time to create a partnership that will benefit both organizations and the industry.

Q – What changes are forthcoming as a result of the new partnership?
TF – There will be a return to the “Fun in the Sun” atmosphere which was what the show was founded upon.
DM – The environment will be different from that of a traditional Celebration event.  We look forward to hosting the industry and our loyal supporters outside of Shelbyville and at a place where they can enjoy beautiful weather, beaches, food and fun.  We will make changes to the class schedule, start the show at a later time and feature only Tennessee Walking Horses in our class schedule.

Q – Will there be any changes to pricing of entries, sponsorships, etc.?
DM – Entry fees and premium money will be the same as recent years. Stall rental fee will be as low as possible as we are now negotiating will stall providers. Sponsorship levels and ticket prices will be reduced.

Q – Who will manage the show?
DM – The Celebration will manage the horse show and select judges, ringmasters, center ring staff and I will serve as show manager just as I do during the Fun Show and Celebration.
TF – Our board, especially Ben and myself are committed to helping the Celebration with the local logistics and sponsorships in Northwest Florida however we will have nothing to do with the managing of the horse show.

Q – Todd, can you clarify the role of the Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, Inc.?
A – I see us as more of an organizer on the event side of things and handling the logistics.

Q – How many times has the Celebration managed a show not on their grounds in Shelbyville and how will this benefit Bedford County?
A – To my knowledge this will be the first show the Celebration has managed outside of Shelbyville.  As for Bedford County, the Walking Horse is tremendously important to the health of Bedford County and anything we at the Celebration can do to help strengthen the industry in turn benefits the residents and taxpayers of Bedford County.  Also, strong shows throughout the season parlay into a better 11 days of The Celebration which directly benefit Bedford County.  We hope to see people from our community use this horse show as a reason to visit the beaches of Panama City Beach and support the Walking Horse industry.
TF – I would add that a successful show here in the Gulf Coast helps the foundation of the industry and Shelbyville is the bedrock of that foundation. This is a win-win for the Celebration and Gulf Coast Charity.

Q – Will the horse show continue to be a music festival in addition to the horse show?
TF – The Gulf Coast Charity plans to have some pre-show and post-show entertainment and also entertainment during the morning on the show grounds.
DM – We are in the process of looking at the activities that surround the show and announcements will be forthcoming.

Q – What else about the show should fans and exhibitors know?
DM – The show will be a three-judge panel just as it has been in the past and we will be affiliated with the Riders’ Cup program.  We are looking at sponsorship opportunities that might allow us to be a triple-point show but at a minimum it will be a double-point Riders’ Cup show.  The show will be three nights.
TF – We are thrilled to know that the top flight trainers in the industry will be coming back to the Gulf Coast to feature the best of what the Walking Horse has to offer for our fans in the area.

Q – Can you both give me the major reason why you wanted to pursue this opportunity to work together?
TF – Personally because I have so many friends that are trainers and owners that we have become close with over the years.  I enjoy the opportunity for them to come down and us host them and visit with them.  Also, I look forward to the show getting back to the levels it once was.
DM – I have been wanting the Celebration to do a show outside of Shelbyville for 2-3 years in order to help the industry that is so important to the Celebration and the Bedford County and Middle Tennessee communities.

This partnership between the Celebration and Gulf Coast Charity is a unique one and something that provides a boost to the industry in a time of need and horse show development.  Both Fisher and Meadows are excited to work together and have many ideas circulating to make the Gulf Coast Charity Celebration an event to remember and to continue in a bigger and better fashion.