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City’s new rodeo arena approaching completion

With construction of Brewton’s new permanent, full-sized rodeo arena in O’Bannon Park in its final weeks, the city is poised to host its fifth annual Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce PCA Rodeo in October, and to provide a top-quality venue for other equestrian events throughout the year. According to Scott Pate, director of parks and recreation, the project was started last fall and will be completed in May, if weather permits. “The arena will be ready to use in two to three weeks, weather permitting. We are in the finishing stages of having the arena done, and once it’s done, the next phase will be moving the announcer’s booth and putting in a set of bleachers that will seat about 950 people,” he said. Some area equestrian organizations and horse trainers are already lining up to use the facility. “Appleton Saddle Club wants to use it. They lost the use of their facility a year ago, and they are lined up to start holding their barrel races again,” he said, adding that horse training, roping and barrel racing can be held at the arena while final touches are under way. Brewton public lands manager Steve Layton said the facility was built to provide a place to accommodate people who participate in and watch rodeo events and other equestrian sports. “Last year, when the chamber held its rodeo event, we were seeing 2500 people come in a night. We realized that there are a lot of people in this area who are interested in horse back riding, roping, barrel racing and these type of events. We are providing a place for them to enjoy the kinds of things they like to do,” he said. And area businesses will benefit from the extra traffic. “These are family- oriented events. When these families come, they bring their horses, their trailers, their children, and it’s not just a one-night, one-hour event. And while they are here, they are looking at Brewton. They are shopping and playing and eating and enjoying a family activity that Brewton has provided a venue for,” he said. Clay Lisenby, chairman of the chamber rodeo committee, said the arena will attract equestrians from across the Southeast. “Equestrains are a tight-knit group of people. Equestrians from Pensacola, Mobile, and Montgomery know each other and travel together. So, it will not only draw people from nearby counties, it will draw people from the Southeast. They will travel hours to come to something like this,” he said. If there is an adequate amount of public support for the arena, future plans could include building an enclosure for it. “Then we could have events like 4-H livestock shows, or a concert. If the people come together and show their support for this facility, then we can expand on what the city has to offer,” Layton said.