Lions squirt victory out of soggy show

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By BRUCE STEELMAN/ Show Chairman

Leading up to the show, the calls were relentless, will the show be held in Woodbury on Saturday night?

The response was easy, Mr. Glenn wouldn't cancel the show. We show in Woodbury come rain or shine. I guess these words came easy before the torment of rain. One can't help to try to honor the memory for which the Woodbury Lions Club Horse Show is known for, Clayton Glenn. I stood by the stance on Friday night when Mike Gannon called and informed me the rumor among the crowd in Shelbyville was the Woodbury Show was moving to Murfreesboro.

My decision still didn't wavier on Saturday morning even when my phone started ringing at 6:30 from concerned owners and trainers in surrounding states. These folks were counting on the Woodbury Lions Club to uphold their tradition and provide a quality show as the club had so professionally done for the past 75 years. It wasn't until I arrived at the fairgrounds, standing in the Clayton Glenn Champions arena that I realized the magnitude of the feat ahead of us to host the show in Woodbury in seven hours.

Of course, the individual that I have counted on for the past 11 years was the first to join me at the grounds. Heath Nokes with shovel in hand was primed and ready to do whatever it took for the show to happen. As we stood and tried to accept the scope of Mother Nature's fury, we were overwhelmed with the sheer depth of our situation. The river was out of its bank and creeping even closer to the Justin Pemberton warm up arena, it had already reached the back wall of the bathroom. Water was pooling inside the grassy area of the center ring, being trapped around the box seats foundation and flowing where spectators would soon be sitting.

The arena had accumulated pools of water which elevated my fear of another area which needed attention.
In our minds, we had gone too far to turn back now. Wayne Hancock has prepared the surface of the Pemberton Arena, Darrell and trustees had prepared the grounds to perfection spending Friday moving table and chairs from the Huff and Puff trailer to their places throughout the grounds. They take such pride in the grounds, knowing the facility showcases Cannon County to home folks and visitors coming to the show.

As we stood around the concession stand, trying to determine our next step we continued to discuss options and looking for the silver lining which was nowhere to be found. Andy Jacobs rolled in with the city's tractor and box scraper, Greg and Jackie Rogers was busy preparing tubs marking arrangements for the pending long, long day ahead.

Andy, Lois Larimer and myself stayed in contact trying to plan around a soggy situation. We discussed the possibility of postponing the Show, but in our experiences a postponed event just doesn't meet expectations. As we continued to answer calls, we looked for ways to make a bad situation better. Lois called and relayed a message from the Show Manager of the Money Tree Show held the night before. Her suggestion was to move the show to Shelbyville.

We realized that the Tony Rice Show on Thursday and the Money Tree Show on Friday had moved their show to the Champions Arena in Shelbyville due to the weather. I was reluctant to move our Show, because the Woodbury Lions Club Show always had the Show in Woodbury come rain or shine. As we called the Celebration Manager, inquiring of the possibility of moving the Show we continued to discuss this option between ourselves still at the concession stand at the fairgrounds. Greg or Jackie wasn't opposed to the move, but I could see the concern in their eyes and hear the doubt in their voices.

While talking with Mr. Inman in Shelbyville, he informed me that his workers had been working the past 24 hours for the last two night shows and was busy making the facility ready for a Mule Show which was scheduled to begin on Monday morning. He hurried over to the facility to determine the possibility of stopping the preparations for the Mule Show and prepare the grounds for another horse show to begin in a little more than 6 hours. We patiently waited for his call, still kicking around options in the event the move was out of the question. I was thinking about the hard work that had already gone into making our facility ready for the nights show. I was worried about those supporters who had purchased box seats and the sponsors of our show.

The magnitude of the decision was weighing heavy on my mind, knowing the impossible feat of notifying members, spectators, trainers and volunteers of the possible move. I couldn't wait any longer, I contacted Mr. Inman and he informed me that he had asked his employees to make the grounds ready for the Show. The cost of the facility would be $1500 and an additional $600 dollars to supplement his employees. Since the Champions arena had been worked up and the center ring had been moved to storage, I realized that his conditions was fair and we were asking a tremendous favor of his facility and employees.

I had my phone on speaker and remembered Greg's comment, "it's your call". The decision was to move the show! I realized that we needed someone on the grounds to aide in moving the show and help coordinate our resources. Without hesitation, Andy was our point member in Shelbyville getting the information needed to direct our members as they made their way to the new temporary location. When he arrived, he found the ring worked up and nowhere ready for show. His deployment was temporary, knowing he had to return to Woodbury to pick up ribbons, sign-in sheets and assortment of items we would need. 

The onslaught of calling began, beginning at 9:30 and continuing until 1:00 the Extension Office became the Command Center for the move. Pam Steakley volunteered to drop by the office to take over the calling and answer calls while I prepared to leave for Shelbyville. Gloria and Darrell Fisher remained at the grounds for those that did not receive the notification of the move.

Friends and supporters at the Walking Horse Report in Shelbyville were making calls, texting and emailing the industry of the move. Jerry Harris with "What a Horse" featured on Charter Cable Channel 6 covering the walking horse world was making calls. Our backs were covered, we had grassroots support that was working hard to ensure our success. Before I left, a club member dropped by the Extension Office to express their concern to the move the Show. Unbeknown to the member, two individuals had called me to ask if they could assist with the Show.

These individuals weren't members, but realized we were in need of help and volunteered. Charlie Bowman and Fred Adams were the two that offered their assistance. Fred not only made the trip, he was one of the ringmasters during the afternoon session and stayed until the show ended. His statement pretty well says it all: "I can't tell Bruce no if he needed help because he wouldn't say no if I needed help." A class-act by two classy individuals!

Lois was busy collecting her registration supplies and Danny Miller and Glenn Steakley were making plans to drive to Shelbyville. Mike Parks was one of the first members to arrive, following Andy, They collected money at the gate. 

As I drove to Shelbyville, the weight of my decision was firmly on my shoulders and I definitely worried if this was the right decision. Cliff Swoape called to see if I had lost my mind, the phrase "you did what" was on everyone's mind. As I arrived in Shelbyville, I could see the worry and doubt on member's faces. The ring was still being prepared for the Show, spectators were slowly beginning to arrive but you couldn't help to feel a little useless because there was no safety net. The show had to go on with what we had in hand, if we left it in Woodbury we wouldn't have it for the Show. A couple of calls reminded Andy to bring the American Flag for the Flag Horse and additional sign in sheets for registration. 

Since we didn't have to worry about parking, the entry gate was covered by members who usually direct parking. The make-shift concession stand began to take shape with several additional members making the trip. At one point I realized that Bobby Vance drove to Shelbyville to assist with the Show. I felt inspired by his dedication and was moved by his effort to assist the Woodbury Lions Club. 

I started getting word from the gate, concessions and registration that trainers, spectators and owners were appreciative of our decision to move the show. The comment of "we would not have come to Woodbury to show in the mud," was a common thread from trainers. Of course those in box seats would have been in the same shape sitting along ringside.

As the night progressed, it was obvious that the members were sold on the move. Glenn was energetic and the first to give his vote of approval of the move. As I walked around other members, their expression had also changed. Trainer Jeff Givens had replaced his uncertainly with a smile, a tell-all approval of our decision. Tim Spry told me that at the beginning of the Show, they were joking among themselves that the concession stand wouldn't be busy and three hamburgers would be the extent of their sales. Mike Wilson assured them that we would have a great show and cook more than three burgers. The concession stand had the hardest job. They loaded supplies, grills and all the supplies needed to have a fully functional concession stand. The concession crew did what Lions do, they rolled up their sleeves and "got her done"!

The show was a success due to the members. While their uncertainly was very noticeable on their faces at the beginning, their commitment and support to the club is astounding. Bill Smith said it best. He complimented us on the decision to move the show. He felt like the club pulled together and did a great job. He thinks it may have made relationships in the club better to work together like this."

I hope that we never have to make decision such as the one that was made on the first Saturday of July of 2013. I feel that the right decision was made to ensure a quality show as well as secure funds to support the Club's charities. While it is uncertain to know how Clayton Glenn would have handled the situation, I feel confident he would have done what was best for the Club. The one regret I have was not contacting Lanny and Lorie Burger of the move.

As the show ended around 2 A.M. on Sunday morning, it became a reality that the 75th Annual Woodbury Lions Club was a success. Members were still there tearing down, cleaning up and finalizing the Show. While we cleaned up the trash around the Champions Arena, you could sense the fellowship among the members. As we wrapped up, we continued our tradition of dropping by a local restaurant to absorb the night's events. Danny, Heath and myself made our final post-show assessment of the Show with breakfast at the Huddle House in Shelbyville. As everyone knows, the show goes on come rain or shine!

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2013, Bruce Steelman, Lions Horse Show
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