Ribbon is cut, chutes open at park

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Features Editor

Some events are so big they attract "everybody who’s anybody" and that can certainly be said about the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Cattleman Park and Convention and Exposition Center Friday night, May 25.

So many people had a part in the realization of a dream that started with the Pike County Cattlemen’s Association about eight years ago, that a huge crowd was in attendance for the official opening of Cattleman Park.

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Senator Wendell Mitchell; Rep. Alan Boothe; Billy Powell, executive vice president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association; Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford; Beverly Steed Helton, assistant state director USDA Rural Development; Larry Meeks, Pike County Commission; Alex Whaley, president Pike County Chamber of Commerce; Don Wambles, administrator Alabama Farmers Market Authority, John Dorrill;

and representatives for Congressman Terry Everett and Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions all took the floor to express appreciation to the Pike County Cattlemen for their vision for Cattleman Park and their commitment to make it a reality for the people of Pike County.

Wambles called the facility a "dream come true" and compared the ups and downs of the project to a yo-yo.

"Sometimes things would be down and come right back up," Wambles said of the effort. "Other times things would go down and spin a while before coming back up, but none of you ever gave up."

Mitchell called the Cattleman Park and Convention and Exposition Center the centerpiece of the county.

"I’ve never seen a group of people work so hard in my life," the state senator said.

Whaley echoed Mitchell’s words saying the Cattlemen gave so much of themselves to make Cattleman Park happen.

Mike Griffin, president of the Pike County Cattlemen’s Association, expressed appreciation to everyone for their support and hard work.

"We could not have done this alone," Griffin said. "It took all of us to make this dream a reality. Tonight, we celebrate the commitment and hard work that it took to make it happen."

The Pike County Cattlemen’s Professional Cowboy Association Rodeo got underway shortly after the ribbon cutting ceremony, making the 2001 rodeo the first official event at Cattleman Park.

"The rodeo was extremely well attended," Griffin said. "We have more seating available in the new arena and both sides were filled both nights."

Griffin said an exact attendance number is not available yet but he estimated the crowd at between 2,500 and 3,000 both nights.

"We had about 200 cowboys and cowgirls on the two nights and Saturday slack," he said. "All of those who responded were extremely complimentary, especially of the ground. They said the texture of the soil was extremely good. They also liked the lighting and the cover. And, our chutes and equipment are first-rate."

The convention and exposition center made up the first phase of the park and the covered arena completed Phase II.

Phase III includes improved seating, stables and barns and Griffin, laughingly, said other phases are part of the dream.

"We need a small storage building, more cattle pens, camper hookups and perhaps an office on the grounds," he said. "And, we have to have more fencing, internally and along Highway 231."

Now that the facility is officially open, it is available for rent by the public at reasonable rates. For more information about the facilities at Cattleman Park call Griffin at 566-5262.