Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration

The historic Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Grounds in Shelbyville, TN is home to The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration®, which takes place each year in late summer for the 11 days ending on the Saturday night before Labor Day.

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  • The Celebration
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The Celebration® is the term generally used to identify both the event and the organization that manages and presents it.

Henry Davis of Wartrace, TN.
Henry Davis of Wartrace, TN.

The idea for a Walking Horse “festival” (later identified as the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration®) is generally credited to the late Henry Davis of Wartrace, TN.

It began when Davis went to nearby Winchester one spring day in 1939 and observed the Crimson Clover Festival. He became very enthusiastic about what he saw and returned to Shelbyville with the idea that his home county should have a festival to celebrate their most important asset – the Tennessee Walking Horse.

The idea was cultivated into the first Celebration on September 7, 8, and 9, 1939. It has been held every year, without interruption, since.

Strolling Jim World Grand Champion, 1939

The show has grown into its own 100-plus-acre equestrian complex; a complex frequented by many breeds and including a 30,000 seat outdoor stadium, a 4,500 seat indoor arena, a covered outdoor practice arena, permanent stalls for more than 1,700 horses, and campgrounds featuring full hook-ups for more than 350 recreational vehicles.


Indeed, it is a thrill to watch the more than 2,000 horses compete during the 10-day-and-night Celebration…and when the one horse emerges proudly on that Saturday night before Labor Day as the World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse®, even the most somber could not help but feel a chill run up their spines.
The Celebration® moved to its present location in 1948,
shown is the West Grandstand
and the A, B, and C rows of boxes.