The Foundation for the Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse (FAST) will hold a Spring Showcase from March 15-17 at Calsonic Arena.
Organizers say that the departure of the National Trainer's Show from Shelbyville has left a "void" in the city -- one that they wish to fill.
Last July, the Walking Horse Trainers' Association voted 96-39 to move the Trainer's Show to the east Tennessee community of White Pine from Shelbyville, where the event had been held since the early 1990s.
Next Tuesday, representatives of FAST will address the Shelbyville City Council asking for financial help with the new show.
Last Friday, FAST president Mike Inman and Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows met with Mayor Wallace Cartwright and city manager Jay Johnson to discuss the possibility of the city helping to sponsor what FAST calls "this critical event."
In past years the city gave $10,000 support annually for the Trainers Show and FAST will ask during next Tuesday's study session that the city "continue its generous tradition at that level."
FAST, which was created just over two years ago, has generated and given back over $300,000 in grants, Inman said, with over 50 percent of those funds being spent in the Shelbyville area.
According to Inman, the Trainers' Show moving to White Pine leaves "a huge void, not only for the middle Tennessee Walking horse industry but particularly Shelbyville and Bedford County."
Inman estimates that the new FAST show will bring a minimum of $1.2 to $1.3 million in economic impact to the area, not counting revenue from organized horse sales and private transactions, which Inman describes as a cornerstone of the traditional "kick off event" that the middle of March has become for Shelbyville over the years.
"Our foundation feels very strongly that allowing the start of the local show season to be pushed back until May would be very detrimental to the walking horse industry and we should make every effort to see that doesn't happen," Inman told the T-G in an e-mail.
This show would be the fourth largest equine event behind the Celebration, and according to Meadows, losing it "would be a significant financial loss to the area." Inman said that the March event will bring the second largest number of out-of-town visitors to a walking horse event this year, with the Celebration being number one.
The owners and spectators will stay on average four to five days while the visiting trainers and staffs will be in town from five to seven days, Inman stated.
FAST will have classes for juveniles, amateurs, and professional riders, and all performances will be open to the public with no charge for parking or admission to the arena.
Inman said they want to encourage local residents "to come and bring the family to the horse show and to enjoy these great equine athletes in an inexpensive family friendly environment."
Meadows has also written a letter to Bedford County Mayor Eugene Ray, asking for financial support of $1,500 for an upcoming Quarter Horse show at Calsonic Arena.
The show, hosted by the Celebration, will take place in late March and early April, and is a joint effort between the West Tennessee and Central Tennessee Quarter Horse Associations.
"There are many Quarter Horse shows held annually in Tennessee, but we have been unable to get them to return to Shelbyville after several years absence," Meadows wrote to Ray. "This would be the start of re-introducing Shelbyville and Calsonic Arena to Quarter Horse people."
Meadows also said the Celebration made "significant financial considerations to this group to entice their return," calling the requested contribution from the county "a good investment in the community and The Celebration."
The letter also stated the Celebration's board of directors continue to support and promote the operation of the arena, stating that the primary reason it remains open is the "financial significance to the community as well as the community spirit it builds."
Meadows wrote that for over 20 years, Calsonic "has operated at a tremendous deficit," but that "at this point the Board of Directors are unwilling to close this community treasure.
"It is our desire to market our facility to non-horse related events as well as other breeds and types of horses," Meadows wrote.