Cattlemen Park officially

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 24, 2001

opens its doors Friday


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What was once a dream for the Pike County Cattlemen is now a reality for all of Pike County.

For so long, it seemed as if the dream of a Cattlemen Park and Convention and Exposition Center for Pike County would never materialize. But, because the Cattlemen refused to give up on what they thought would be a

feather in the county’s cap and a boost to its economy, Cattlemen Park is ready to officially open its doors.

The Pike County Cattlemen’s Foundation and the Pike County Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon cutting for the Convention and Exposition Center and Arena at Cattlemen Park at 6:30 on Friday, May 25.

B.B. Palmer, publicity director for the Pike County Cattlemen, said it will be a landmark day in Pike County.

"It’s been a long time coming," Palmer said, "and maybe that makes us even more appreciate of what has been accomplished through the efforts of so many who refused to give up on a dream."

Palmer said several years ago, the officers and directors of the Pike County Cattlemen’s Association were tossing ideas around and one that hit the bulls eye was a rodeo.

"Rodeos have been, and still are, popular family events, so we thought one just might go over big in Pike County," Palmer said. "Nine years ago, we got in touch with rodeo producer Bo Campbell and we’ve been in the rodeo business ever since."

When the Cattlemen opened the gates for the first rodeo, there were some nay-sayers who thought a few horses and riders wouldn’t attract a very big crowd.

Little did they realize

the Pike County Cattlemen were going to put on the "Rodeo Ritz."

"Our rodeos are PCA rodeos," Palmer said. "That’s Professional Cowboy Association rodeos and they are top notch events."

The first rodeos were so popular that the Cattlemen decided they needed a first-class facility in which to hold the rodeos.

They purchased 35 acres on Highway 231 south of Troy and began to solicit donations to build the million dollar-plus park.

Through donations and fund raisers and a low interest USDA loan, enough money was in the bank to complete Phase I of the project, which was a 13,500 square foot Convention and Exposition Center, which includes a kitchen, concession area, conference room, ticket booth and a seating area for 1,000.

A $500,000 grant, made possible by Sen. Richard Shelby, provided the funds needed to complete Phase II of the project, which is a 37,000 square good covered arena, with a total seating capacity of 8,000 when the floor is used auditorium style.

Palmer said the Cattlemen Park facilities will be available for many uses other than the PCA rodeo held each Memorial Day weekend.

"We hope to have high school and college rodeos, concerts, festivals, singings, banquets – any events that attract a large number of people," Palmer said. "The facility will be available for public use. Rental rates have not been finalized but they will be affordable. We want the facilities to be used because, when they are in use, the entertainment opportunities will be many and so will be the economic effects for Pike County. People will buy gas and food, stay at motels and perhaps shop in our stores. The Cattlemen Park is going to be good for all of Pike County."

Palmer expressed appreciation, on behalf of the Pike County Cattlemen’s Foundation, for the support and encouragement the Cattlemen have received in pursuit of their dream. He extended a special invitation to the public to share in the reality of the dream.

"We especially want the public to join us for the ribbon cutting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 25 and then stay on to enjoy the PCA Rodeo," Palmer said. "This will be an exciting night for the Pike County Cattlemen and all of Pike County. "