Demopolis to observe Rooster Day with new celebration April 9

President Woodrow Wilson was in attendance for the 1919 Rooster Day in Demopolis. The city aims to reignit the observance of Rooster Day April 9, 2016.

(Library of Congress) President Woodrow Wilson was in attendance for the 1919 Rooster Day in Demopolis. The city aims to reignite the observance of Rooster Day April 9, 2016. A print of the above photo hangs in Rooster Hall in downtown Demopolis.

Celebrating a unique event in the city’s history, Demopolis will hold its first Rooster Day on April 9 in Public Square.

In 1919, when cockfighting was popular and still legal, Demopolis was host to the great Rooster Auction to raise funds to build a bridge over the Tombigbee River. The bridge would connect Marengo and Sumter counties, the last link in the Dixie Overland Highway.

Thousands attended, and roosters were donated by many notables of the day, including President Woodrow Wilson, Fatty Arbuckle and Gen. George Pershing, to name a few. Helen Keller even sent a “little blue hen.”

Lisa Compton, chairman; Kirk Brooker, curator of the Marengo County Historical Society; Diane Brooker, chair of the auction, and Shelley Wood, chair of the Rooster Fair in Public Square. With the check that Diane is presenting to Lisa, the Alabama Power Foundation becomes a Rooster Booster.

Lisa Compton, chairman; Kirk Brooker, curator of the Marengo County Historical Society; Diane Brooker, chair of the auction, and Shelley Wood, chair of the Rooster Fair in Public Square. With the check that Diane is presenting to Lisa, the Alabama Power Foundation becomes a Rooster Booster.

To mark the event, the Marengo County Historical Society plans a full day of activities celebrating the area’s rural roots, talented artists and craftsmen, innovative students and love of a good time.

“We’re about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Rooster Auction,” said Lisa Compton, event chairman.

By beginning this year Rooster Day will have grown to a well-known event when the anniversary arrives, added Kirk Brooker, curator of the historical society.

Rooster Day will start with the Cock’s Crow 5K Run beginning on the square in historic downtown Demopolis. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the run an hour later. All race finishers are eligible for prizes.

As an added challenge to runners, a top Demopolis High School cross country team runner will be the race’s “Lead Rooster.” The first ten runners to beat the Lead Rooster get a special prize.

Entry fee is $20 in advance and $25 the day of the race. All pre-registered runners receive a commemorative t-shirt.

Rooster Fair in Public Square, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature local and regional artists showcasing their painting, sculpture, photography, pottery, metal works and more. Antique furniture, soaps, candles, honey, baked goods, jams and jellies prepared by area residents also will be for sale.

Booth space is $50, and artists are encouraged to share space if they wish. Applications are due before March 9. A late fee of $25 will be added after that date.

Entertainment and demonstrations on the Rooster Day stage are scheduled throughout the event, including exhibits by the award-winning Demopolis robotics team and by the Chick Chain project of the county 4H Club. “Coop Games” are planned for kids.

To end the day, a Rooster Auction will be held at 6:30 p.m. at historic Lyon Hall. Starting off the goods for sale will be a rooster, followed by a live and silent auction of special items of art, a hunting trip, dinner party, painting class and more that are being donated.

After the auction, the Elijah Butler Band will provide dance music until 11 p.m. Cost for the auction and dance is $15 per person.

Rooster Day committee members are looking for Rooster Booster sponsors. Those businesses and individuals contributing at certain levels will receive special recognition and benefits. Volunteers also are needed.

For information, call the Marengo County Historical Society at 334-289-9644 or contact Brooker at marengohistory@bellsouth.net. Follow the event on Facebook at RoosterDayDemopolis.