'Big lick' brings in big bucks

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ready or not, here they come.

One of Shelbyville's biggest claims to fame -- the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration -- is set to begin. RVs have been filling up parking lots on Evans Street and Celebration Drive for several days now. We've made way for visitors by renting out our homes and parking their RVs in our yards; our motels are filled.

Our sleepy little town is about to transform into a bustling little city -- and we'll have the traffic jams to prove it.

For all of Bedford County, Celebration time creates a temporary change in lifestyle. You can love it, hate it or simply grin and bear it. But if you stay in town, you can't escape it.

For those complainers out there, stop for a minute and think about what this event does to boost our economy. Despite the traffic during the show and the swarms of flies afterward, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

Eliminate the Celebration and we lose a significant industry to this county, to the entire state.

This year we celebrate 68 years as host to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. That's 68 years of fund-raising for such organizations as the Shelbyville Central High School Band, Shelbyville Quarterback Club, Rotary clubs, Kiwanis Club, Lions clubs, members of the Veterans Council.

And where does that money go?

The band earns assistance in its operating expenses -- including transportation, private instruction, instrument/uniform maintenance, etc.

Our veterans return their proceeds back into this community with donations to schools, youth sporting activities, patriotic events, etc.

Kiwanians fund the Shelbyville Head Start Program, Rotarians support the library, scholarship programs, adult education. Civitans, Lions, Optimists, Jaycees and other civic organizations depend on the money brought in from their TWHNC participation to fund their community projects.

Thanks to Celebration booth sales, more than $400,000 is brought into Bedford County each year -- and most of it stays here. Each club, each organization manning food booths, parking cars, selling programs returns its proceeds back into the community.

And that's not including local businesses whose sales boon, thanks to our visitors.

The TWHNC is the premier event for this great horse. For trainers and owners, it is the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby for the breed of horse they love.

Let's celebrate our good fortune to be their hosts.