(T-G File Photo) [Order this photo]
"Things are progressing very well," said Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows, who serves as show manager. The mule show is one of a handful of annual events actually organized and put on by the Celebration, as opposed to events which rent the facility.
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A variety of classes will be held in Calsonic Arena and in Champions Arena (the covered outdoor arena adjoining the barn area).
"This is a great event for the Celebration," said Meadows, "but an even greater event for the community." He said the show draws exhibitors from around the country who stay and shop locally.
"It's a big financial boost for Shelbyville and Bedford County," said Meadows.
Meadows recalled one event last year which had 15 mules entered, with 11 different states represented by that class alone.
He said advance entries for the event are "holding steady" but noted that, unlike at the Celebration, many exhibitors at the mule show don't even register until they arrive on the grounds. So the actual participation won't be firmed up until the event starts, and could be affected by weather or other factors.
Meadows said the mule show is an accessible event which members of the general public can enjoy without expert knowledge or past experience.
"It's a fun thing," he said.
There are trotting events, but Meadows said spectators enjoy the gaited mule show on Friday and Saturday nights, judged by walking horse trainers.
"That's really a big spectator deal," said Meadows. "A lot of people come to that."
Meadows also noted that the show draws strong participation from trade fair vendors.
Tickets for the mule show are $6 per day for adults, with a three-day past costing $15. Children 7-12 are admitted for $3 per day, while children 6 and under are free. Tickets are available for purchase at the door.
In addition to the show itself, the Celebration Association holds a welcome cookout for visiting exhibitors Wednesday night at Champions Arena. Association members take an active role in cooking and serving, said Meadows. There will be a watermelon crawl Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Celebration Pavilion (under the water tower); and a barbecue supper ($5) Friday at 5 p.m. in the Hall of Fame Club inside Calsonic Arena.
For more information about the show, go to twhnc.com or call 684-5915.Terry Kirkland of West Virginia takes his mules for a joyride the day after coming in second in his driving class at the 2011 Great Celebration Mule and Donkey Show.
Don Holland of Oklahoma gives his 2-year-old mule Preacher a chance to stretch his legs before the competition starts at the 2011 Mule and Donkey show.