Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Optimist Club serves mouthwatering donuts at horse show


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Photo by Tayhlor Stephenson / Lifestyles Editor

First bite — it’s soft, it’s doughy and it’s perfectly melting in my mouth. I want another.

Second bite — the light glaze complements the sweet treat in all the right ways.

Third bite — Why am I just now trying this?

The thing is, if you want your tastebuds to explode the way mine did from eating a donut, you’ll have to travel beyond the beaten path. About 40 minutes South of Murfreesboro lies the small town of Shelbyville, Tennessee: home of the commodity of all donuts. But these donuts aren’t served every day; they only come out from hiding once a year when the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration makes its way to the city in late August for 10 consecutive days of Walking Horse competition.

But the horses aren’t the only form of entertainment to be found at the show grounds. In fact, if you recognize yourself as a foodie, this is your go-to place because it’s where you’ll find some of the best eats, such as the highly crazed Optimist Club donuts.

To get one, you’ll have to plan a visit to the world-famous horse show before midnight of Sept. 2. But even then, you’ll have to do some scouting to find these hidden treasures, because they won’t be found within the grounds’ circular path where all other food, supplied by local civic clubs and nonprofits, is found. Instead, you’ll actually have to exit the main gate, but as soon as you do, you’ll spot the Optimist Club food booth, where they specialize in donuts and maintain one of the busiest of food booths.

But are they worth all that trouble? The answer is yes.

The donuts are served in a plain white box, which almost immediately wears grease stains from the oil the donuts are made in. They’re not all done up with decorative icing; a light glaze does the trick. The Optimist Club donuts are the simplest of all donuts, but they’re all that they need to be — plus some.

The donuts continue to gain popularity because of the glaze that soaks through the donut, which makes for a tender, tasty bite throughout. There’s not a lot to them, but sometimes simplicity is best.

The key to scoring the best horse show donut the Optimist Club food booth has to offer is to eat them while they’re hot. Occasionally you’ll get some that have been sitting and cooling for a bit, which grants the donuts time to harden, but that’s an easy fix–just be sure to request them fresh.

If they’ve yet to make their way to your food radar, these donuts deserve that spot. They’re truly irresistible, and every regular of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration would attest to that.

On a star rating system, I would give these donuts a full five stars.

Follow Tayhlor Stephenson on Twitter at @tayhlor_s. 

Table Talk is a foodie’s paradise where you can find true, honest opinions on the most talked-about places in town. For more Table Talk coverage, click here.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email

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