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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

1939 competitor revisits Celebration

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mildred Bobo poses with a photo of herself with Lady B, the horse she rode to a blue ribbon in the very first Celebration in 1939. She was 14 that year; she was 16 when the framed photo was taken.
(T-G Photo by John I. Carney) [Order this photo]
Several residents of Christian Care Center of Bedford County attended the Celebration on Thursday last week; for one of them, Mildred Bobo, it was a particularly poignant experience.

"I hadn't been in years," said Bobo, 86.

But, make no mistake about it, she's loved the Celebration ever since it started in 1939; she was a blue ribbon winner at that very first show, a fearless 14-year-old farm girl riding a two-year-old horse named Lady B. According to the Tennessee Health Care Association, she was the first woman to win a championship class.

"I was tickled to death," she said. "Wasn't scared at all."

And she was hooked on equine competition.

"Once you're ever into it, you're always into it," she said.

Bobo's father, Gale Clanton, was a dairy farmer, she said, with a contract to provide milk for the county. She had the run of the farm except for the dairy barn.

She was the sister-in-law of the late Dewey Arnold, who for years rode flag horse White Lightning to open each night's Celebration performance.

She's enthusiastic about the Celebration, and was interviewed last week by WSMV-TV (Channel 4) for a report about the state of the Celebration, telling a TV reporter that she could tell improperly-treated horses because their gait was too exaggerated.

In 2006, she was shocked at the lack of a World Grand Champion and called various officials expressing her support for keeping the Celebration alive and healthy.

Mrs. Bobo said she has only been wheelchair-bound a short time, and before that she said she walked around the nursing home each day. She's got a positive attitude, not only about the Celebration, but about life in general.

"You just live with whatever you have," she said.

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