Pike Co. Cattleman’s rodeo dates back quite a few years

Published 9:05 pm Wednesday, August 20, 2014


On Memorial Day weekend in the early 1990s, motorists that were traveling along busy U.S. Highway 231 after dusk found themselves in a hovering cloud of red dust. If the passersby could have seen through the dust, they would have seen cowboys on bucking broncos and cowgirls riding and roping as they competed in the Pike County Cattlemen’s PCA Memorial Day Weekend Rodeo.

The Pike County Cattlemen had acted on Kevin Davis’ idea of sponsoring a rodeo as a fundraiser for the association.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Back years before, rodeos were held quite often in and around Pike County,” said Cattleman B.B. Palmer. “But there hadn’t been a rodeo around here for a pretty long time. Kevin thought a rodeo would be a good fundraiser for the Cattlemen.”

In order to put legs to Davis’ idea, the Cattlemen had to find a site on which to hold a rodeo.

“We thought about the Pike County Fairgrounds so we got in touch with the Troy Shrine Club and they agreed to partner with us for our first rodeo,” Palmer said, adding that the Cattlemen realized in a hurry that their fundraiser was no fun-raiser.

“Talk about work,” Palmer said. “We didn’t have anything we needed for a rodeo except a place. We had to rent everything from bleachers and panels to lights. The stock contractor brought the stocks and chutes and things but we had more to do than it looked like we could do. And, it was late May and it was as hot as all get out. But we got everything done and the rodeo was a good one.”

But Palmer had to take the word of someone else on that. He was in Hawaii when the chutes opened.

He had won a trip to Hawaii so he didn’t get to enjoy the rodeo. He had to settle for watching the sunset on Waikiki Beach while his fellow Cattlemen basked in the success of their first rodeo and decided they were in the rodeo business.

The next year, the Cattlemen went out on the their own. They purchased about 35 acres on Highway 231 as a permanent site for the Pike County Cattlemen’s PCA Rodeo.

“That was a real big commitment,” Palmer said.

The Cattlemen brought in heavy equipment to clear the land of brush and scrub trees and to level the “dirt” to make way for a rodeo arena.

“Getting the land ready was a big job and then we still had to have everything brought in– lights, panels and bleachers – and there were no bathroom facilities out in the field so we had to bring in port-a-potties,” Palmer said. “And we had to bring in tables for the concession stand and big grills. We had to bring big coolers for the meat and other concession items that had to be kept cold – cool. It was mighty hot out in that field with no cover over your head.”

And, more than a few prayers were needed to keep the rain away. Nothing could put a damper on a rodeo like rain.

Palmer said standing over a hot grill on Memorial Day weekend in South Alabama was not an enviable place to be.

“But we had good rodeos out in that field,” he said. “The fans were up close to the action and the children were usually too close. They would climb up on the fence and that was dangerous. The announcer would tell them to get off the fence and some of them would and some wouldn’t.”

The early days of rodeo in Pike County were fun and exciting and dusty. The bleachers were filled with rodeo fans. Palmer said there was something special about a rodeo held in the wide-open spaces.

But, the Cattlemen dusted off their boots and decided it was time to upgrade, first with a covered arena and then with a building to house indoor events.

Grants, low-interest loans, donations and fundraisers provided the funds for Cattleman Park. The facilities are used for many different events — rodeos, cattle shows, gospel singings, large group meetings and reunions.

Cattleman Park is a source of pride for all Pike County, especially the Cattlemen who put legs to an idea. And, for them, every now and then, it’s good to dust off the memories of those early rodeo days.

The 2014 Pike County Cattlemen’s Rodeo will be Friday and Saturday nights at Cattleman Park. The rodeo begins at 7 p.m. nightly. The Sweet Young’Uns will perform after Friday night’s rodeo. Saturday is family night and the Western Festival for kids will get underway at 5 p.m. The Benton Brothers will entertain form 5:30-6:30.