Downtown and Warehouse District merchants gearing up for ‘Celebrate Cullman’

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2nd Fridays events are a big draw downtown during the summer months. / Andrew Cryer

We’ve really got a vibrant downtown, and we don’t want to let that get away.  We want to continue to grow it and fill it; and we want the people of Cullman to be proud of their downtown, because it’s really unique.  It’s really a wonderful place.”
Cullman Downtown Merchants Association Planner Ron Pierce
 

CULLMAN – With the return of the Archery Shooters Association McKenzie Classic archery tournament to Cullman later this summer, the city is preparing to welcome thousands of archers and archery fans for the national-level event Aug. 3-6.  To introduce all those out-of-towners to what the city has to offer, the Cullman Downtown Merchants Association (CDMA), in partnership with the Warehouse District Merchants Association, is restarting “Celebrate Cullman.”  The celebration will take place the evening of Friday, Aug. 4.

This week The Tribune sat down with CDMA planners Ron Pierce and Michael Sapp to talk about the upcoming event, which will be a joint effort between CDMA, the Warehouse District Merchants Association and Cullman Parks and Recreation (CP&R).

Pierce explained, “Celebrate Cullman originated when the tornado hit Cullman back in April of 2011, and a four-block area (of downtown Cullman) was closed down for a couple of months.  We had a downtown merchants’ association, and we were worried about the merchants down in this area.  That was the origination of it.  Nathan Anderson, who heads up the parks department, and I, and Leah (Bolin) who’s with the Chamber put together a celebration.  The idea was to bring the traffic back and help the merchants.

“A couple of years after that, the parks department had signed up the ASA archery tournament.  We decided that we could help the parks department if we moved the date to correspond, to bring those folks downtown to help sell downtown Cullman.”

This year’s celebration will once again reach out to the archers and their families, along with other visitors in town for the tournament. 

According to Pierce, “This year, they’ll have a big golden invitation in their bag.  There’ll be about 1,800 archers and maybe about 4,000 people (total).  They’ve got a multi-year contract, so if it goes well this year, they’ll bring even more next year.”

For this year’s event, planners are thinking big.  Preliminary plans include:

Carnival rides and inflatables in the street along First Avenue Northeast
“Cow Train” ATV-towed ride for little kids
Carnival games with tickets and a prize tent
Games and rides will be free
Loads of live music, including bands on First Avenue Northeast and individual musicians on other thoroughfares and in businesses and restaurants.  The Warehouse District will have a DJ; and between Highway 278 and Busy Bee, acts like the Cotton Pickin’ Kids, the Escalators, and BoomTown will perform.
CP&R archery area
Historic downtown tours
Participating downtown merchants open for business into the evening, until 9 p.m.
Participating downtown restaurants open until midnight

Planners are still talking with some people and groups that could expand the range of offerings.

“We’ve really got a vibrant downtown,” said Pierce, “and we don’t want to let that get away.  We want to continue to grow it and fill it; and we want the people of Cullman to be proud of their downtown, because it’s really unique.  It’s really a wonderful place.

“I love Cullman: a lot of good Christian values, a lot of good family values.  We’d like (downtown) to be a crown jewel for Cullman.  The reason Michael and I are working this is that we love Cullman.  The reason Shane Quick is here doing everything he does is that he loves the downtown.  The reason Nathan Anderson is doing what he’s doing is that he loves the downtown.  They love Cullman first of all, and they love the downtown.”

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