• Elena Cawley

Experience an 83-year tradition, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration


Head to Shelbyville for the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration (TWHNC), the largest horse show for the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. Enjoy delicious food, meet people from all over the world and experience the crowning of the World Grand Champion. The Celebration is set for Aug. 25-Sept. 4, at the Walking Horse National Celebration Grounds in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

CEO Warren Wells

Warren Wells, chief executive officer of TWHNC, invites you to attend the event and explore Shelbyville. Wells is the fifth CEO in the Celebration’s history.


“Visitors can expect 11 nights of an 83-year-old Tennessee tradition,” Wells said. “You can experience great food and see people coming from all over the United States and world. And most importantly, visitors will experience the crowning of the World Grand Champion. We have a large vendor fair for shopping, a veterans’ night, when all veterans and first responders have free admission and a hat night.”


This is the 83rd Celebration. The first Celebration was in 1939, in Wartrace, Tennessee. It moved to its current location in 1948, according to Warren.

Warren is looking forward to the festivities.


“I love that people come from all over to see the best that Shelbyville has to offer,” Warren said. “Most people say they look forward all year to getting Shelbyville Optimist Club’s World Famous Horse Show Donuts. I know of people that buy several boxes just to freeze for special occasions.”


You just need to try one of the Shelbyville Optimist Club’s World Famous Horse Show Donuts, “and you are hooked.”


The Celebration offers a unique experience.


“This is the only place you can see a Tennessee Walking Horse Crowned World Grand Champion, and it has been held every year since 1939,” Warren said.


Henry Davis of Wartrace came up with the idea to hold the Celebration. When Davis attended the Crimson Clover Festival in Winchester, Tennessee, in 1939, he returned to Shelbyville with the idea to celebrate the area’s most important asset – the Tennessee Walking Horse. The first Celebration was held Sept. 7-9, 1939, with Strolling Jim becoming the first Grand Champion. The show has grown, and the equestrian complex is now more than 100 acres. It includes a 30,000-seat outdoor stadium; a 4,500-seat indoor arena; a covered outdoor practice arena; permanent stalls for more than 1,700 horses; and campgrounds featuring full hook-ups for more than 350 recreational vehicles.


Chris Bobo, Derek Bonner, Brent Grider, David Sisk and Dale Watts will serve as judges this year. The panel will include judges from Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and Mississippi.

“It is the board’s goal each year to put forth a panel capable of judging at the highest level in our halter, pleasure and performance divisions,” said Celebration Board Chairman David Crowell. “We feel confident this group meets that standard and provides all of our exhibitors with a level playing field,”


It’s exciting to watch more than 2,000 horses compete during the Celebration and to witness one horse emerge proudly as the World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse.

To learn more about the event, visit www.ExperienceShelbyville.com.


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