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Trainers' Association requests city donation for horse show

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shelbyville's city council was asked for $10,000 for a horse show slated for March, but a tight budget could limit whatever contribution the city chooses to make.

Mickey McCormick, the new president of the Walking Horse Trainers' Association, told the council that the group's 45th anniversary show has been scheduled to be held at Calsonic Arena March 14-16.

In years past, the city had routinely contributed $10,000 for the spring trainers' show. However, the show was moved to White Pines in east Tennessee in 2012.

City manager Jay Johnson reminded the council that "a lot of difficult decisions" were made last spring when making non-profit contributions, saying that the funds that were usually donated to the spring horse show were not in this year's budget.

"There is money in there, but it's not allocated to this purpose," he said, explaining that other extra funds have gone for the Railroad Avenue project.

Johnson had a list of questions -- such as what the contribution would be paying for and what level of funding "would be realistic this fiscal year."

More tax money?

McCormick said the event would be the second largest horse show in the county, with between 800 and 1,200 entries, estimating it would bring 25,000 to 30,000 people to town. He also noted that when he was made president of the trainers' group, he urged that the show be moved back to Shelbyville.

The city of White Pines had made a number of facilities available to them for free last year, as well as contributing $10,000, he explained.

"I'd rather be here sleeping in my own house," McCormick said, adding that he wanted the tax dollars to flow here.

He also said he could not answer some of Johnson's questions, such as what was the exact budget for the show, since the show manager had not been able to attend the meeting after being "snowed in," but he estimated the figure to be around $60,000. More accurate numbers could be provided next week, McCormick said.

When asked by Johnson why a contribution of $10,000, McCormick said that they get funding from other groups, and that Shelbyville has always contributed the same figure over the years. The group has not made a request to the county yet, he added.

McCormick explained that hotels do not benefit from the show like they used to since many horse owners either have a farm, second home or condo in Bedford County. He also estimated that the show would bring in between $900,000 and $1.2 million.

Big in the past

Johnson told the council that $5,000 could be contributed, but if more was to be provided, "we'll have to move some money around."

Council members recalled that in year's past, the trainers' event had been huge, only dwarfed by the Celebration in August, with McCormick saying it generated the second largest amount of money for the county.

Councilman Henry Feldhaus explained that when he was mayor, the city would track the $10,000 contribution and said Shelbyville had an $18,000 increase in sales taxes during that time.

A letter from the Trainers' association stated that with the city's sponsorship, they would receive a box seat, and two Hall of Fame passes, also asking if a representative of the city could present a trophy during the event's final night.