CEO expects Fun Show success

Friday, May 19, 2017

Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration CEO Mike Inman said he's looking forward to next week's 47th annual Spring Fun Show, and that there are already several indications the show will be a success.

"I'm really excited," said Inman.

The three-night Fun Show, which is operated by the Celebration, takes place Thursday through Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in Calsonic Arena and kicks off the summer walking horse show season. It often serves as a preview of horses that will contend in the big outdoor arena when late August rolls around.

Increased interest

Inman said that there have been good reports from early-season walking horse shows, with entries up and "positive feelings" reported.

He said the Celebration office has seen an increase in calls and inquiries, and that he's heard from local hotels and motels that Fun Show-related bookings are up.

General manager Leeann Leversen of Microtel Inn & Suites told the Times-Gazette in an email that her facility is seeing higher interest numbers for the show than in recent years -- and those numbers start with a fully-booked hotel.

"For example, in previous years, we would start a wait list, and work through approximately 20 names prior to the horse show events," she wrote. "Last year, we had a wait list of 20 people, and only worked two people in. This year, we are already sold out for all horse show events, and have chosen not to start a wait list, as we feel we won't be able to work anyone in. We have a good regular guest base for the horse show weekends, and unless there is a death or illness, we know we will not have cancellations." She said customers are booking rooms for every horse show event of the year rather than one at a time.

"Faith has been restored in the TWH industry," she wrote.

Split classes

Last year, the Fun Show split its 2-year-old classes into A and B divisions for the first time, giving owners and trainers the opportunity to showcase more of the horses of the future as they begin their careers under saddle. Inman said that proved very popular and is being continued this year. The split 2-year-old mares and geldings class will be on Thursday, while the split 2-year-old stallions class will be on the final night of the show, Saturday, May 27. Inman said that as a result of the change, more than 10 percent of the show entries are in the 2-year-old division.

The three-night show builds up to the final class on Saturday night, Stallions 5 Years and Over (Canter). The aged stallion class is the focus of any walking horse show, and at the Fun Show it means a look at some of the horses that may be in contention for this year's Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship.

The Fun Show will also be the public debut of the Celebration's new flag horse, White Diamond Dollar. Inman said rider Bud Seaton was practicing the flag ceremony with the new horse this week.

Familiar judges

Scotty Brooks of Bowling Green, Kentucky, Nathan Clark of Arab, Alabama, and Allen Forman of Thomson, Georgia, will judge the show. Brooks judged the Spring Fun Show in 2006 and 2010 while Clark judged the Spring Fun Show in 2005, 2011 and 2016. Forman has not previously judged the Fun Show but judged the Celebration in 2007 and 2013. Clark judged the Celebration in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2016.

The show starts at 6 each evening. Tickets for the Fun Show are $5 per night. For more information, call Celebration office, 931-684-5915, or go to twhnc.com.

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