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The Celebration grounds get renovated

Posted on Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at 8:00 am


Photo by Mark McGee

Spring is on the way and the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is busy remodeling and rejuvenating the facilities just in time for the 55th Annual National Walking Horse Trainers Show March 15-18.

Cooper Steel has done more than put its name on the arena at the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration Grounds. They have placed their stamp of quality throughout the facility.

Warren Wells, TWHNC CEO, is anxious to see the reactions of walking horse fans when they arrive for the Trainers’ Show. Tennessee Walking Horse enthusiasts of all sorts are going to be walking into a new and improved facility, ranging from cosmetics inside and out and new restrooms. The Hall of Fame Room is in the process of being transformed into a brighter facility.

“When you pull up to Cooper Steel Arena, the first thing you see is the entire building has been painted a different color, a lot closer to the Cooper Steel colors with dark gray and black,” Wells said. “There is an all-new façade which looks awesome with all of the brickwork. There is all new concrete in light gray and dark gray in front of the arena and it looks really good as well.

“What we call the storefront, every piece of metal came out. There is new metal, new glass and new doors. It got a nice facelift.”

The new exterior is impressive, but the interior is just as stunning.

“As you walk into the arena the first thing you see on the back wall is a huge Cooper Steel logo,” Wells said. “All the metal at that end is covered.”

Bathrooms also have been completely redone with new floors, new stalls and new paint.

“I think our visitors are really going to love that,” Wells said. “Everything is new. It is a complete remodeling.

“It looks really really good. I think out visitors are going to like that.”

Not only does Cooper Steel Arena look better, it is also going to sound better. The speaker system which is original to the building has been replaced. The Trainers’ Show will be the first to use the new system.

Scott Leonard’s Professional Audio Designs out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has designed the new system, tuned it and installed it.

“Scott Leonard and his family are walking horse people,” Wells said. “They have a home here in Shelbyville and love our horse. It was nice to use someone in the industry here.”

With the new system, the organ music will be plugged in directly so everyone, regardless of where they are sitting in the arena, will be able to hear it at the same level. The announcer’s sound will also be enhanced.

Wells added that film crews will be able to pick up audio directly into their cameras. Crowd mics are going to be positioned around the arena to pick up crowd noise.

The new sound system will also benefit the Hall of Fame Room inside the arena.

“One issue we had with the Hall of Fame Room was however loud the announcer was in the ring it was that loud on the inside of the room,” Wells said. “We didn’t have a separate control. Now the room will have its own independent controls with the sound projecting throughout the room.

The Hall of Fame Room has also undergone a complete remodeling as well.

“There are new floors, painted ceilings and walls, and a completely new bar area,” Wells said. “There are new windows and doors. There is new lighting and it is gorgeous.

“It is all brand new. It is going to be a really good place for people in Shelbyville to use.”

Despite all of the work there are still more ahead.

“We are going to surround the VIP parking in front of the arena with nice ornamental fencing like the David L. Howard entrance gate,” Wells said. “It is going to be beautiful.  We have a lot more landscaping to do to spruce up the arena area as well.

“We are super grateful for everything the Cooper Steel family has done in helping us to better market this arena. We thank them for all of their work.”

Outside on the grounds all three shower houses are being replaced in the RV parks.

“Talking to prospective shows around the country one thing that hurts us is our shower houses in the RV areas,” Wells said. “The showers were in really bad shape. No one said they could fix them.

“Denali Construction in town has torn down the buildings. The color scheme will match Cooper Steel Arena with light gray and dark gray. It is going to help us offer a lot more to our customers. The new shower buildings should help us recruit some new events. Starting over fresh. They are going to look great and offer a lot more to our customers.”