Columbiana’s Cowboy Day celebrates 10th year

COLUMBIANA – Hundreds of people paid a visit to downtown Columbiana on Saturday, Feb. 17 to participate in a variety of Western-themed events at the city’s 10th annual Cowboy Day.

According to Mayor Stancil Handley, Cowboy Day serves as a celebration of the rural way of life and to promote the Shelby County Cattlemen’s Association Rodeo, which takes place on the following weekend each year.

“It started out as a way to honor some of our heritage. Our rural life in Columbiana has slowly disappeared as our city has become more urbanized,” Handley said.

It also serves as a way to acknowledge locals who continue to raise cattle and support the agricultural industry in the area, Handley added.

“We’ve still got cowboys and cattle farms around here,” Handley said. “It gives people a chance to look into the past, but also to talk to real-life cowboys. They’re not all just in Texas.”

Cowboy Day featured several events related to the Wild West era, including lariat (lasso) demonstrations, demonstrations by a blacksmith, a staged shootout at high noon and a parade of horse and cattle riders on Main Street.

During Cowboy Day, visitors also enjoyed live music, a variety of vendors, a chili cookoff and pony rides and a petting zoo for children.

Chelsea resident Krista Wren, who came to Cowboy Day for the first time with her family, described the event as authentic.

“It’s fun for the community to get together,” Wren said. “The shootout was great. I grew up in Montana, so I grew up with rodeos and guns and that type of thing.”

Columbiana resident Mindy Cooper, who came with her daughter, husband and stepson, said this was her first time to attend Cowboy Day as a family.

“My husband’s son is really into cowboys and bull riding. After we got married, we decided to join in on the fun,” Cooper said.

Her 4-year-old daughter, Rylan Hermecz, said she especially enjoyed the pony rides and dressing up like a cowgirl.

Coosa County residents Barry and Karen McGowin, who formerly lived in Wilsonville, said they have attended every consecutive Cowboy Day. For the McGowins, Cowboy Day is always a unique and special event.

“This is a small-town family affair,” Barry McGowin said.

“There’s not a lot of Western horse-riding events that are open to everyone,” Karen McGowin added.

For years, Handley said Cowboy Day has become a widely-known event that has attracted visitors from across the Southeast. Despite the threat of stormy weather on Feb. 17, he said over 500 people were present by noon.

“It says that people like Columbiana and they like coming out and enjoying a good event,” Handley said.