Horse show named among state’s 10 best

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The Kentucky Tourism Council rates the Shelbyville Horse Show as one of its top 10 events for summer 2010.

By Lisa King

Just a year after celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Shelby County Horse Show has earned top honors by state tourism officials.

The Kentucky Tourism Council has selected the show as one of its Summer 2010 Top 10 Festivals and Events.

Katie Fussenegger, executive director of the Shelbyville/Shelby County Visitors Bureau, called the horse show a “Class A” event that she is very proud of.

“The Shelby County Horse Show competes with events all over the state of Kentucky,” she said. “People come from all over to see our show.”

Fussenegger gave credit to Edward “Hoppy” Bennett and Robert Henry “R.H.” Bennett for the horse show’s successful history.

Hoppy Bennett said that he and his little brother, R.H (which stands for “real handsome,” he joked), have poured their hearts into the horse show since they founded it 21 years ago.

“He’s the manager, and I’m just his flunky, but we work hard to make sure it’s the best,” he said.

Bennett said he was delighted at being recognized by the tourism council.

“Gosh, the Derby didn’t even make it as one of the top ten, so we were really surprised and happy,” he said.

He reflected on what makes the Shelbyville Horse Show so special.

“Well, the entire community participates,” he said. “It’s not just a horse show; it’s a place to see and be seen. People look forward to it all year. They plan their reunions and vacations around it, and lots of professional people volunteer and participate in it.

“I guess what really sets it apart is that it’s just unique for a town of this size to go to such great lengths for any one event. It really makes you proud of the community.”

Megan Tubbs, communications and sales coordinator for the Kentucky Tourism Council, said that the top 10 events must pass stringent criteria judged by a panel of judges.

“We have hundreds of entries,” she said.

Bennett said that he is very proud of the Shelbyville Horse Show, not just this year but also its reputation and the honors it has gained over the past two decades.

“We have been named the Best Horse Show in Kentucky 10 or 11 times and have even been named the Best Horse Show in the United States before,” he said.