Celebration numbers best in five years

Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Class 174 Gen’s Black Maverick, Bill Callaway up for Keith and Lorraine Rosbury of Bell Buckle, won the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship to close out the 79th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

Gen’s Black Maverick, Bill Callaway up for Keith and Lorraine Rosbury of Bell Buckle, won the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship late Saturday night, closing out the 79th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

“This has been a dream of mine ever since I had my first Shetland pony,” said Callaway on Thursday. “Since I’ve been a kid I’ve dreamed of this opportunity ... I’ve been blessed with a talented horse and great people around me that I know it wouldn’t be possible without ... I would not have this opportunity without Jesus, my family and friends, and the Rosburys.”

“He’s a very talented horse,” said Lorraine Rosbury last month. “He just needed to get with the right trainer.” Since then, she said, the horse has just gotten better as the years have progressed.

She called Maverick “the most talented horse we’ve ever owned.”


Reserve honors went to Incredible Machine, Blaise Broccard up for Linda Stewart of Olive Branch, Mississippi. Broccard was seeking to be only the fourth woman ever to ride a horse to the World Grand Championship.

In third place was He’s Shady In Black, Jimmy McConnell up for Richard and Connie Donner of Dyersburg. Fourth was Master’s Razzel & Jazz, Herbert Derickson up for the Alan Riddley family of Shelby, North Carolina. Fifth was I’m Mayhem, ridden by Rodney Dick for JoAnn Dowell and Susan Coleman of Powell, Ohio, and Unionville. Sixth was Jose’s Cold Chill, ridden by John Allan Callaway (brother of Bill Callaway) for LaRue McWaters of Ashford, Alabama. Seventh was Jose’s Power Broker, Keith Blackburn up for Dan and Susan Erwin of Olive Hill, Kentucky.

Unlike in other Celebration classes, the horses in the World Grand Championship are introduced individually as they enter the ring, with organist Larry Bright playing his composition “Flat Walk Boogie,” which has become, as announcer Mark Farrar calls it, the anthem of the Tennessee Walking Horse nation. The crowd rises to their feet and claps along.

All seven entries on the class listing distributed before the show were present and accounted for when the class began, meaning none were turned away during the inspection process.

Led Zeppelin, owned and ridden by Abby Fox of Cookeville, was an across-the-board judges’ pick for the Owner-Amateur World Grand Championship. The Iron Door, Carol Missildine up for Denny Russell of Smithfield, North Carolina, was third.

Trainers honored

Jimmy McConnell was honored as Walking Horse Trainers Association Trainer of the Year in the performance division, and Patrick Thomas was honored as Pleasure Horse Trainer of the Year.

Farrar announced a paid attendance of 111,717 for the 11-day show. Paid attendance includes box seats, which are sold for all 10 nights of the show, whether or not they are occupied on a given night. He announced that Saturday night’s attendance was 12,000.

This year’s show had 1,774 entries, which Farrar said was the most in the past five years, even after some consolidation and rescheduling reduced the number of classes by 16.

After two nights of rain -- remnants of Hurricane Harvey -- the weather as the show began Saturday evening was dead solid perfect, with clear skies and comfortable temperatures. The temperature cooled off as the early September evening deepened into night.

The final Saturday night at the Celebration always includes its share of festivities, such as recognition of 14 first-time Celebration exhibitors and recognition of a handful of people, including Wallace Brandon, Janice Carlton and Raford Hulan, who attended the very first Celebration in 1939. Two candidates for governor were in attendance, just as two had been in attendance Friday night. (See related story, page 2A)

Stars of future

The Stars of the Future Showcase allowed the winners in divisions for youth riders to take a ceremonial pass around the show ring. There was also an exhibition by a show mule, promoting the Great Celebration Mule & Donkey Show held each July.

Because of an electrical problem earlier in the week, the Celebration could not extinguish the stadium lights for the traditional spotlight ride after each world championship class, except for the last class of the evening, the World Grand Championship, when it didn’t matter whether the lights were a little slow coming back on.

After the last class, as always, Bright launched into the Billy Joel classic “Just The Way You Are,” with which he ends each night’s show, and on the last night it’s always tinged with melancholy and anticlimax. The Celebration is over, the summer (if not the offical season, at least the cultural season) is over, and there will be 50 more weeks until the next Optimist Club donuts emerge from their hot oil.

Earlier classes

The evening’s competition began with the Owner-Amateur Riders on Trail Pleasure Horses, 4 Years and Over, World Grand Championship, won by Jose’s Grand Muchacha, owned and ridden by Allison Thorson of Murfreesboro. Checkpoint Charlie, owned and ridden by Tamara Hader of Bainbridge, Georgia, took reserve honors, with Hashtag, owned and ridden by Whitlei Green of Shelbyville, in third.

The Show Pleasure Horse World Grand Championship was won by Entitlement, Clay Sanderson up. The entry is owned by Southridge Farms and the Howell family from Murfreesboro. Reserve honors went to Brubaker, Link Webb up for Tim and Laura Cochran of Chatsworth, Georgia, and Apollo Jose, Blaise Broccard up for Linda Stewart of Olive Branch, Mississippi, was third.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship was won by Powerstrokes Evening Star. Sherri Pollack rode the entry for S&P LLC of Saratoga, California. Reserve honors went to Miss Ebony Rose, owned and ridden by Sudie Reed of Jasper, Alabama, and third place went to Gin Toddy, owned and ridden by Sue Irby of Shelbyville.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Park Performance Horses World Grand Championship was won by A Touche, owned and ridden by Jannie Chapman of Owens Cross Roads, Alabama. Reserve honors went to Tiger Blood, Jacob Baum up for Lisa Baum of Shebyville. Ain’t He Grande, Suzanne Moore up for Bud and Suzanne Moore of Franklin, was third.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on 3-Year-Old Horses World Grand Championship was won by The Darkest Hour, Madison Scarborough up for Teresa Kincaid of Kannapolis, North Carolina. In second was Knock Down Drag Out, Jason Myatt up for the Jerry Myatt family of Alvaton, Kentucky, while in third was A Classic Action, owned and ridden by Diana Cruse of Blue Ridge, Georgia.

The Owner-Amateur Youth Riders, 6-17, on Trail Pleasure Horses World Grand Championship was won by Honey Badger, owned and ridden by Lily Catherine Holland of Decatur, Alabama, their fourth straight year to take top honors in the class. Reserve honors went to I’m King Bee, Counti Green up for Jo and Wayne Hanson and Counti Green of Peebles, Ohio, and Shelbyville. Third place went to Artemis Fowl, Claire Hankins up for Vaughn & Hankins of Valley City, Ohio, and Paris, Kentucky.

The 2-Year-Old World Grand Championship was won by Minor Ordeal, Tyler Baucom up. The entry is owned by Mona Dean of Wendell, North Carolina. Second place in the class went to No Mas Tequila, John Allan Callaway up for Lisa Baum of Shelbyville. He’s Remmington, Ryan Blackburn up, took third place honors for Linda Sisk of Columbia.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on Lite Shod Horses World Grand Championship was won by Roscoe Jenkins, owned and ridden by Susan Coleman of Unionville. Reserve honors went to La Patrona, owned and ridden by Dale Steinmetz of Louisville, Kentucky, and in third was Big Time Bandit, owned and ridden by Lisa Baum of Shelbyville.

The Owner-Amateur Riders on 4-Year-Old Horses World Grand Championship was won by Maroon 5. Jim Baum rode for owner Luke Baum of Shelbyville. Reserve honors, and an ovation from the crowd, went to Hey Tomcat, Carol Lackey up for Lackey Properties LLC of Shelbyville. Siskco Kid, David Sisk up for Dr. Andrew Sisk of Columbia, was third.

In an interesting twist last Sunday night in the Four-Year-Old stallion preliminary had a father and his two sons in the ring together. Allan Callaway, sons Bill and John Allan made history with Allan placing ninth, John Allan fifth and Bill second.

Another highlight from Saturday night was the reigning WGC Honors with Larry Edwards in front of the Blue Ribbon Circle posing for pictures and signing autographs for the many fans who came to see them. It was by far the largest number to see the duo, surpassing He’s Puttin On The Ritz in 1997.

Remnants of Hurricane Harvey played heavily on the show Thursday and Friday night. The last two classes on Thursday night had to be moved to Friday night because of the forecast of 60 mph winds and heavy rain. The Friday show was held in a heavy mist for most of the night.

This story was contributed to by Tom Sumners.