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Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Opens Aug. 21 The Greatest Horse Show On Earth Celebrates 64th Year - Billed as "The Greatest Horse Show on Earth," the 64th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration kicks up its heels in Shelbyville for 11 days of fun-filled action starting August 21. More than 2,000 Walking Horses from 40 different states and several foreign countries compete in 153 classes and for 30 World Grand Championship titles during the 11-day event, the premier showcase for the Walking Horse industry. "It's definitely one of the biggest horse shows in the world and Tennessee's very own World Championship," said Celebration Chairman Virgil Johnson. "But it's also one of the more family-friendly events around. There's something for everyone here, with an atmosphere that's more like a state fair than a horse show." This year's event promises to be extra special, with Center Ring events planned for both children and adults during almost every night of The Celebration. Center Ring events begin on Saturday, August 24, with a special tribute that honors America and the victims of September 11. The week marks the 50th week anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Sky Divers will also perform that evening, arriving by parachute to Center Ring. Also performing is Albert Lucas, one of the world's greatest jugglers, who recently performed at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. On Monday, August 26, straight from Las Vegas, Cube Man, a spinning and balancing act by Vladimir Vanin, will perform. On Wednesday, August 28, The Balloon Man, who travels the world stuffing his body inside a giant balloon, will perform. And on Thursday, August 29, Nikolai and Nina, two quick-change artists otherwise known as Transformation, will perform as they did recently on the Late Show with David Letterman. For the children, there will be the traditional fun events such as free face painting and a petting zoo. Here's a schedule of some of the events during The Celebration. Thursday Aug. 22 Movin' On Down Saturday Aug. 24 Salute to America, Sky Divers, Juggler, Barbecue Cookout, Face Painting, Petting Zoo Sunday Aug. 25 Petting Zoo, Dog Show, Movin' On Down Monday Aug. 26 Cube Man, Movin' On Down Tuesday Aug. 27 Movin' On Down Wednesday Aug. 28 Balloon Man, Face Painting Thursday Aug. 29 Transformation, Racking Horse Presentation, Autograph Session with Allan Callaway/Encore Friday Aug. 30 Retirement Ceremony, Face Painting, Icelandic Horse Presentation Saturday Aug. 31 World Grand Championship, Saddlebred Presentation Almost a quarter of a million fans are expected to attend this year's Celebration. As always, fans are invited to browse a giant trade show, visit the gift shop and tour the 110-acre Celebration grounds with its 65 decorated barns and 1,600 stalls. "Although several new events have been added to this year's show, one thing will never change," said Johnson. "And that's our commitment to providing good, clean, family fun." Back again for the third straight year is a competition for Walking Horses 15 years and older, designed to highlight the longevity of the Tennessee Walking Horse. The 2002 Celebration also marks the fifth year of the award-winning S.H.O.W campaign. The campaign, which promotes Sound horses, Honest judging, Objective inspections and Winning fairly, has been endorsed by the industry's major participants, including The Walking Horse Trainers' Association, the Walking Horse Owners' Association, the National Horse Show Commission and the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeder's and Exhibitor's Association. The effectiveness of the campaign in promoting self-regulation within the industry received confirmation from a recent federal judicial ruling. That decision affirmed the Tennessee Walking Horse industry's authority to regulate itself under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. "The judge's ruling speaks well of our ongoing efforts to make sure the laws and regulations that govern our industry are properly enforced," said Johnson. All evening shows begin at 7 p.m. Morning competitions begin at 9:00 a.m. on Aug. 21, 22, 23, 24 and 26. The highlight of The Celebration is the crowning of the World Grand Champion on Saturday, August 31. For specifics, fans can call The Celebration office at (931) 684-5915, or check the web site at The Tennessee Walking Horse was first developed more than 150 years ago in Middle Tennessee and is the first horse named for a state. Nicknamed "the Gentleman of the Equines," the Tennessee Walking Horse is known for its naturally high-stepping gait and gentle disposition. The Celebration began in 1939 as a means to showcase these qualities.

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