Pet show at Ag Center ends early due to heat

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Cullman County Agricultural Trade Center (Nick Griffin)

CULLMAN, Ala. – South Alabama Sand Boas ended its recent two-day Exotic Pet Expo at the Cullman County Agricultural Trade Center early due to excessive heat in the building, which is not air conditioned. Some vendors left on the first day, citing concerns for their animals.

Cullman County Parks and Recreation Director Doug Davenport said the Ag Center is rented by many organizations year-round for different types of events and entertainment for the Cullman community and surrounding areas.

“Vendors sign a contract before hosting their event and all Ag Center details are in that contract,” Davenport said. “Most recently, there was an exotic animal show there and they ended up closing shop early because of the heat – people were fussing and they were also wary of the safety of their animals.” 

Davenport said contracts state that the Ag Center is not air conditioned. He said there are large fans, and the building is heated in the winter months, but it does get quite warm in the summer. 

“We have very few events in the June-August months because it is so hot, but since the Priceville arena shut down, we have picked up a lot of events,” Davenport said.

Caden White and Karra Bearden, who run Land to Sea Exotics and were participating in the show, said the event was full of ups and downs but they were excited to see people’s enthusiasm about exotic animals.

“Many people showed up to the South Alabama Sand Boa show at the Cullman venue, despite the lack of air conditioning in the building,” White said. “We were doubtful whether or not people were going to come and stay for long periods of time and stop at every vendors’ tables like they normally do when there is AC. We were surprised with how busy the venue stayed throughout the first day of the two-day event. Unfortunately, a few vendors had to leave before lunch on the first day because of their animals’ sensitivity levels to the heat. We, too, decided to leave for the same reasons towards the end of the first day. We were working very hard to keep our animals comfortable enough to be there safely, but ultimately decided that leaving was what was best for our specific team and animals.” 

White said while they were not there on the second day, there was talk about quite the crowd that still came through.

“It just shows how much people are fascinated with exotic animals; we love to see the enthusiasm,” White said.  “We hope in the future that the owners of the show will take the complaints given by the vendors and work to better the conditions for the animals and people working to continue to excite, educate and provide the public with happy and healthy animals. At the end of the day we should all be on the same team and kindly help and guide one another to do whatever is best for the animals that have been placed in our care.”

Davenport said his department is looking at renovating and extending the Ag Center in the future and adding air conditioning to the venue, but right now they are using large fans until they are able to renovate.