Shelbyville's city council will decide next week how much funding they will donate to an upcoming horse show.
The Foundation for the Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse (FAST) has made a request for funding help for their Spring Showcase set for March 15-17 at Calsonic Arena.
The event is geared to replace the hole left by the departure of the National Trainer's Show from Shelbyville, which has moved to east Tennessee this year. The group is asking for the $10,000 that the city would contribute to the Trainer's Show each year, which was the second largest equine event that had been held here.
FAST president Mike Inman said that the organization has already raised and given back over $300,000 in grants into the show horse business, with over half of those funds being spent in the Shelbyville area.
He said like many in the horse business, he has two homes -- one here and a primary residence, but he hopes to retire here, as do many that are in the equine field. However, those numbers could decline if there's only one major show held here each year.
But horse shows have come on hard times and have lost money, Inman said, pointing out that FAST donated to the Cascade band after the Wartrace show was "devastated" two years in a row.
Inman said they expected $1.2 to $1.3 million to be generated by the new show. He estimated that the city could see $100,000 in tax money from it.
If the council made the contribution, the city would see the money come back "very quickly" either into the industry, or the city and county.
City manager Jay Johnson said that anytime local hotels can fill rooms, it benefits the city via the hotel/motel tax.
The money for the event would come out of Shelbyville's general fund, if approved.
Councilman Thomas Landers asked if they gave FAST the $10,000 they were asking for, what was going to stop other groups from making the same request, saying they were low on funds.
"What's the stopping place going to be?" he asked. Johnson replied there was none.
Mayor Wallace Cartwright stated there are four other shows coming this year, one of which was asking for a $1,500 contribution, and there are also efforts to entice a National Walking Horse Show that is usually held in Murfreesboro to come here as well.
Councilman Sam Meek said that Shelbyville's upcoming car show has hotels booked solid within a 30-mile radius of the city -- proof that the large events benefit businesses, adding money to tax coffers.
Cartwright said that groups asking for funding show be non-profit, such as FAST is, and be able to provide financial information before the council even considers making a donation.
Council member Jean Pruitt warned that if they didn't support the show, there are other towns that would.
Cartwright noted that the arena has been operating at a loss, yet the board of directors has refused to close it, saying they wanted to keep it open for the community.
"We have got to express loud and clear support for the Walking Horse industry," council member Kay Rose said, adding that "we're in terrible shape right now and I'm scared we're going to lose the Celebration."
Johnson said he would look into how much money the Trainer's Show brought in in years past.