According to the latest weekend reports, the Celebration hosted over 114,000 paid attendees this year. That is an 8 percent increase from last year, Celebration CEO Warren Wells told the Times-Gazette.
“We had a great show this year. We were up in every category we track,” he said. And even in-and-out of rainy weather, the Tennessee dog days of summer proved to be a beautiful background.
But for Wells, “Crowning the World Grand Champion is always the best part. There are years of work that go into achieving that honor. I just love the emotion that it brings out of everyone. This year was my first year experiencing it from center ring and I will never forget that feeling.”
As a National Guard veteran himself, Wells said the Veterans’ Night on Friday was truly special. For the 2022 Celebration, Wells said, “I look forward to improving on many aspects that deal with fan experience, including the food trucks.”
Big win for a small girl
Alayna Arnold, 9, who was featured in the T-G’s walking horse souvenir edition as a youth rider, had a great time at the Celebration riding Designer Champagne, which she co-owns with trainer and exhibitor Kimberly Walden.
Alayna competed in the World Championship Class on Thursday and placed first out of 17 horses. She then competed on Saturday in the World Grand Championship and placed 5th.
“My favorite part of this year’s celebration was when my dad and Mrs. Kimberly was walking with me into the show ring and watching everyone smile and yell when they won first place. But probably showing my horse was my favorite part [as she giggles],” she and her mom, Casey, told the T-G.
Next year, she hopes to show Designer Champagne (nicknamed “Bubbles”) again as well as have her stepdad, Bill Callaway, let her show a walking horse.
Given Saturday night’s big win for the Callaways, it’s safe to say she’ll be in good hands.