One of the most famed Tennessee Walking Horse Grand Champions, Midnight Sun, was honored in a special way on Monday inside a barn at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm.
Visit Franklin, part the Williamson County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and the Franklin Public Arts Commission unveiled in partnership the Midnight Sun Scavenger Hunt that will delight visitors and highlight Franklin’s equestrian history.
The interactive scavenger hunt allows visitors and residents to explore downtown Franklin and its history through clues that include finding 10 football-sized bronze horse statues of Midnight Sun hidden and permanently installed at key historic locations around the city.
Searchers will follow clues to find the miniature horse replicas while learning a little about Franklin’s past in a fun, family-friendly way.
“We are excited for this exciting new addition to the downtown area,” said WCCVB President and CEO Ellie Westman Chin. “This will be a fun way for visitors and locals alike to explore the extensive history throughout downtown Franklin in a fun and active way.”
Franklin Mayor Ken Moore said it was also an important day for the Franklin Arts Commission.
“One of the most exciting actions that I’ve had as mayor is to name a Public Arts Commission,” he said. “This is the first initiative for public art on this commission, and I think we will see many more in the future.”
Chin and Moore said they feel the scavenger hunt will encourage tourists to stay in Franklin longer.
Local sculptor Janel Maher, who has lived in Franklin for 40 years, crafted the miniature Midnight Sun horses.
“I love what I do,” she said. “I get supercharged doing art. I get ideas, and then I have to make them happen.”
A renowned artist for 25 years, Maher sculpts a variety of animals, but she has a deep passion for horses since she also owns a farm with plenty to take care of.
The process to make the bronze horses can take two to three months, Maher explained.
“I work in clay, and then when I have it done the way I like it, I take it to Colorado … to my foundry,” she said.
Through the lost-wax process, a metal casting is made of the sculpture that can be used to make the horse sculptures.
Maher’s admiration for the community is why she wanted to take on the project.
“It makes me feel wonderful that I can be really part of this community,” she said. “I’m just proud to do this because I love Franklin.”
History of Midnight Sun
Midnight Sun was a stallion from Harlinsdale Farm and quickly became one of the leading sires of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. Midnight Sun went on to become World Champion of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in 1945 and 1946.
Since 1949, only four horses have won the annual Tennessee Walking Horse World Championship, which were not from the direct Midnight Sun bloodline.
Midnight Sun lived to be 25 years old, with 21 of those years spent at Harlinsdale Farm. In 1965, Midnight Sun was buried on the farm at a gravesite that is still visible today.
For more information on the scavenger hunt, stop by the Visit Franklin Visitor’s Center or go to https://visitfranklin.com.