Columbiana Cowboy Day stirrups some fun with 16th annual outing

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Columbiana’s Cowboy Day, the long running and community favorite event that transforms the city’s Main Street into a representation of a wild west town, rode back into the town on Saturday, Feb. 24.

Offering a long list of western themed festivities and the largest number of vendors in the event’s history, the event lassoed the attention of thousands and brought success to businesses along Main Street and local sellers congregated at Old Mill Square Park.

Despite strong winds that at times threatened to move stalls and blow over displayed merchandise, it was a strong day of sales for many in attendance.

“It was a good day,” said Ali Payne, manager of community affairs and senior services in Columbiana. “It was really busy with more vendors than we have ever had for Cowboy Day. We’ve never done that many vendors and it was really different having as many as we did, I think we ended up with 84 of the regular vendors and about 19 food vendors. A lot of people were out.”

The number of vendors was an increase by nearly a third from the number that was present at last year’s event, which saw roughly 60 take part in the festivity.

“It brings a lot of people into town and it is definitely a boost for our Main Street businesses,” Payne said. “Any time that you have that many people in town, it is going to be a success for the businesses. People will go in, buy things, see things they like and come back and we always see a boost for them. Several of our business, such as the Provincial Pub had events or music afterwards so that people could still hang around downtown afterwards. That is partially why we do events like this, it’s for our local businesses.”

Although final estimates are still a week or two away, event organizers believe that community attendance also increased significantly from last year.

“I think it was most likely a bigger crowd than last year,” Payne said. “We are still working on our estimates for our crowd participation, but last year we had close to 8,000 people in attendance and I think we had a higher amount this year—I was much busier than last year.”

The day also featured a number of wild west skits, a cooking demonstration, hobby horse races for the children, live music from the Lealan Carter Band and a forging demonstration.

Returning once again for their 16th year of participation was the western troupe Have Gun Will Travel, who provided the event with a sense of authenticity and theatrical flair in the form of skits and performances.

As in year’s past, their two primary shows, which took place in front of the amphitheater stage and on Main Street, served as recreations of events reminiscent of the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral and included the discharge of black powder firearms that fired blank rounds.

“They have done Cowboy Day since 2008,” Payne said. “They do a lot of different kinds of shows and they are a great group of guys. They come and camp on Friday night and stay with their tents set up—It’s really cool and the kids get come and see that. They have been faithful actors for us for a long, long time and we really appreciate them.”

Following the shootout on Main Street, the roads were cleared and the city led a procession of riders and their horses down Main Street in a sight that resembled the triumphant conclusion of a cattle drive. In total, 115 people registered to ride in the parade and a collection of them, including this year’s rodeo queens, also participated in the rodeo that started at 7 p.m.

For many young children in the crowd, it was their first true experience seeing horses up close and the excitement could be heard through the strong wind that was tunneled down the street.

That built up excitement was all part of the plan as well, as the event, which continues to outperform itself with each passing year, serves as a welcoming introduction to the Shelby County Cattlemen’s Rodeo held at the Shelby County Exhibition Center just down the road from Main Street.

“Cowboy day started in 2008 and it really started as a way to promote the rodeo,” Payne said. “It has been very successful (in that effort), this year the rodeo sold out all three of their shows and (the rodeo) had a really great night both Friday night and Saturday night.”