CROWDS OF horse enthusiasts fill the arena, row after row and seat after seat. The silence of the former moments is gone. Slowly, as each new group settles into their box for opening night, the atmosphere grows increasingly dense with excitement. The noise level amps up, too. Be it ballgowns, bowties, or blazers, everyone is dressed according to their own unique frill. An announcer picks up a microphone to commence the night just as a gentle summer breeze blows through the stadium, set under the stars. Mmmm. The sweet smell of sugary homemade donuts fills the air. Now it finally feels like a night at the annual Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration.
Celebration time in Bedford County means that for the next few weeks Shelbyville will become home to horse enthusiasts and hundreds of Tennessee Walking Horses from across the country. Horse trailers and riding boots will flood the streets as hundreds of thousands of spectators and contenders flock to our small town to see or show off the high kicks of these exquisite animals. Eleven days of showing and judging will take place before any horse and trainer will make their way across the pressed dirt track and onto the coveted green winner’s circle to be crowned a world champion.
This year’s competition marks the 84th consecutive Celebration show, possibly making it the longest running event in Tennessee. The event will run from August 24 through September 3. Warren Wells, the Celebration’s CEO, shared some details unique to 2022. He said, “We have combined the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association’s Futurity with our show. Before this year, the Futurity was always on the Wednesday night before the Celebration started. Instead, we’ve now taken those Futurity classes and combined them and merged them with some of our classes throughout the Celebration’s class schedule. So the Celebration will actually start one night earlier than usual in the indoor Calsonic arena. Then on Thursday we will begin in the outdoor arena as usual. Additionally, we’ve added a Two-Year-Old Walking Mares World Grand Championship class to the schedule for the first time, so we are excited to see how those changes will play out.”
If you have yet to make your way to the Celebration Grounds for the Celebration, we assure you it’s well worth your short commute. Wells said it best when he shared, “We’re the only event that can crown the World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse. Every year it brings hundreds of thousands of people to Shelbyville to witness just that.” If you want to check out the horse show for the first time, or if you are a regular attendee, we at Good News know you will be pleased with this year’s show. For the final class schedule and ticketing information, please visit twhnc.com. GN