Organizers with much to crow about following inaugural Rooster Day

Although the phrase has been overused recently, Demopolis really has something to crow about. By all standards the inaugural Rooster Day April 9 was a rousing success.

From the Cock’s Crow 5K run to start the day through the auction and dancing under the stars at Lyon Hall that night, more than a thousand people enjoyed all things fowl.

The event did far more than raise funds to help preserve Lyon Hall and Bluff Hall, said Lisa Compton, chairman of the event. “It promoted tourism, area businesses, regional artists, the downtown neighborhood, our heritage and our sense of community.”

Calling the first Rooster Day “a success beyond our dreams,” Compton said attendance at all events far exceeded expectations.

“There were very few problems, especially for a first-time event,” she said.  “I heard loads of great feedback and enthusiastic support.”

Receipts and expenses still are being tallied, but initial estimates of proceeds to benefit the Marengo County Historical Society “is north of $30,000,” Compton said.

Those funds will go a long way toward repairs to Bluff Hall and Lyon Hall, the two house museums owned and operated by the Historical Society.

Cynthia Phillips, who chaired the Cock’s Crow Run, said 100 race participants were expected; 160 registered. Winning the race was “Baja” Fultz with a time of 19:47.

But many of those taking part weren’t looking for best times, just for the fun of the run. The Reading Club members donned headpieces designed as blue hens. Others took advantage of rooster headbands created by students at Demopolis High School and joined in the playful mood of the day.

A host of children’s activities, set up by Angela Schumacher and Amanda Smith, had kids lining up for the Pony Tales Petting Zoo, jumping on the inflatable, balancing eggs on their heads through an obstacle course, corn hole competition and arts and crafts.

Artisans and craftsmen lined Public Square sidewalks to offer their work for visitors to Rooster Day. Painting and photography, metal work and woodcraft, soap and honey, decorative painting on glass and basket weaving drew admiring patrons.

The Craft Corner, run by the MCHS, had samples of its wares for sale. Food vendors offered chicken salad lunches, Brunswick stew, barbecued chicken, hot dogs and pastries.

Several mascots roamed the Square. Bucky the Beaver came with the U.S. Coast Guard display. The Pizza Man from Little Caesar’s drew Kayte Melton’s name for a year’s worth of free pizza.

Special guest was Rocco the Rooster from Auburn University’s School of Poultry Science who taught children and adults alike how to do the Chicken Dance.

The county 4-H Club displayed their prize-winning chickens. The Demopolis school system’s robotics team gave a demonstration, and singers and dancers entertained on the stage set up in Public Square.

Capping off the day was the live and silent auction held at Lyon Hall, where laughter and good-natured bidding brought in more funds for the cause. Chairman Diane Brooker said the auction should clear about $15,000 after expenses.

Woodrow the Rooster, named for President Woodrow Wilson, was the first item up for bid. When the winner elected to take a painting of a rooster instead of the bird, Woodrow was auctioned again.

Helen, the Blue Hen, namesake of Helen Keller, also was for sale. The bird made its own donation to the items for bid by laying an egg just before the auction started.

Other live auction items included hunting trips, a stay at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, a party at the historic Webb home, wine and cheese tasting and art classes with cupcakes included.

Brooker praised Amanda Hall and Katharine Glass for setting up the dozens of silent auction items inside Lyon Hall, and Betsy Stephens and her committee provided the food. Leah Akins arranged for the Elijah Butler Band to provide the entertainment.

“It takes a committee to pull something off like this,” said Brooker. “It was so much fun to be a part of such an exciting event which brought true happiness and enthusiasm to our community.”

As an added benefit, she continued, “we raised funds to get some much needed work done on the historic properties. These properties bring many guests to our town and we need to continue to work to get more done.”

“It is overwhelming and heartwarming to see how this community has risen as a group to support Rooster Day and each other,” said Compton.

Her committee plans a follow-up meeting within the week to review events and begin plans for 2017.