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Walking Horse Attractions Listed Among Top Tennessee Tourist Sites



By Melissa R. Stevens

Bridlewood Farm in Shelbyville, Tenn., and the commemorative garden at the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association in Lewisburg, Tenn., were recently listed among the top tourist attractions in Middle Tennessee by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

Bridlewood and the commemorative garden are part of the state’s new tourism theme, “Tennessee, The Stage is Set for You” which was designed to highlight all of Tennessee’s attractions from musical heritage, to family fun and adventure, to scenic beauty.

“We had over 8,000 visitors per year in 2001 and 2002,” said Larry Lowman of Bridlewood Farm. “We’re happy to be filling this need in the walking horse industry. I only wish more farms would begin to offer tours. People want to see our horses in action. We may have to consider adding some form of live action to our tour sometime in the future.”

Bridlewood Farm offers tours of its working breeding facility, where visitors can enjoy watching a video about Tennessee Walking Horses, pet some of the breeding stallions and learn more about the breeding process.

“Our industry is always talking about trying to expose the beauty of our breed to newcomers. I say, why not use tourism as a way to do that,” Lowman said.

The commemorative garden at the TWHBEA headquarters features a 13,500 pound statue of Midnight Sun, the direct dire of five world grand champions. Of the 52 walking horses to have won that honor since the 1940s, all but six are his descendants.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that the garden has been listed,” Charles Hulsey, executive director of the TWHBEA, said. “Certainly, the addition of the Midnight Sun statue has been a big part of that. We continue to be surprised by the number of visitors that come to the garden after hearing about the statue. I think we’re just beginning to see the impact that the garden will have on tourism in Lewisburg.”

The new tourism program was developed to assist individual attractions and destinations in promoting the distinctive nature of Tennessee businesses to travelers. The program was launched in September 2003 at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and is part of seven initiatives to increase visitors, visitor related sales tax revenue and requests for travel information about the state.

Local celebrities Dolly Parton and Isaac Hayes have been chosen to promote the new program through a new advertising campaign, which was launched April 7 of this year.

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