COVID doesn’t stop Fun Show

Thursday, June 25, 2020
Patrick Thomas of Jackson works with light shod contender and World Grand Champion, “Moonshine at Midnight” on Wednesday morning at the Celebration grounds in preparation for the 50th Annual Fun Show which runs through Saturday night.
T-G Photo by Dawn Hankins

In its 50th year, the bright lights of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Fun Show will shine on at Maverick Arena through Saturday night. TWHNC officials have decided to pay it forward during this year’s event by honoring those who work on the front lines during the pandemic.

“As an appreciation of all the people working so hard to keep us safe, first responders, including police, firefighters, and medical professionals will be allowed free parking and free admission by displaying their official personal photo ID’s at the appropriate entrances,” TWHNC Chief Executive Officer Mike Inman said.

With the exception of the spring horse show being on a different date, everything exhibitors and guests have come to associate with the show on the Celebration grounds will remain the same. The new class schedule features 73 classes instead of the original 64 classes but will still maintain its three-night format.

“The biggest difference will be the show moving to Maverick Arena for the first time in over 20 years, as a provision to easily provide for social distancing,” said TWHNC Chief Executive Officer Mike Inman on Tuesday.

Each performance will start at 6 p.m. and public parking will be in lot D in front of the Celebration office located behind the west grandstands.  There will be five ticket booths to enter through, Inman said, so there should be plenty of room for social distancing. 

For likely the first time in 50 years, there will be hand sanitizer at each entrance and at other locations. Guests may wear masks, but they’re currently not required.

“Although there are chairs placed in every other box for customers, if you wish to bring your own chair and personal coolers, it will be allowed at this year’s Fun Show.”

Maverick Arena holds 30,000 people and TWHNC officials, who were out on the grounds early Wednesday morning getting set up, are expecting about 2,000 to attend the Fun Show. Inman believes there will be more than ample room for social distancing.

Wednesday morning on the grounds was fairly quiet regrading exhibitors but Patrick Thomas of Cedar Grove near Jackson was already getting the horses with Southern Serenity Ranch in order.

For 18 years, he’s worked with the stables and attended the TWHNC Fun Show at the Celebration grounds. Thomas plans to show the World Grand Champion, “Moonshine at Midnight,” during several classes this week. As far as the Celebration in August, Thomas says of their light shod contender, “He will be there.”

Down a few rows from Southern Serenity barn will be great concessions everyone loves. Inman said while concessions will still be available at the Fun Show, TWHNC will have some operational guidelines set up for those areas, due to the required social distancing requirements.

TWHNC has added the ability for entries to be done on line prior to the show, Inman said. “This was a plan in the works to make things easier for our customers, but in today’s environment, this service doubles as a way to social distance for our entry office as well.”