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Chamber sets sight on hunters

Crenshaw County is best known for its quaint towns that motorist travel through on the way to beach and as a hot spot for hunters.

Renowned restaurants and friendly shops that are scattered throughout the county have always acted as havens for travelers. But there hasn't always been much for hometown and visiting hunters to relate to.

Two years ago, the Crenshaw County Chamber of Commerce along with Big Daddy's Outdoors decided to change that by hosting a Hunter's Appreciation Day in the Town of Rutledge, which is intended to help promote hunting as a tourist industry in Crenshaw County.

"When I first came back to town and went into business with my father-in-law, we continued to have out-of-town hunters and we felt like we needed to welcome them to our area," Chairman Steve Holmes said. "The Chamber of Commerce asked me to help them welcome the hunters and this is what we came up with."

The Chamber will host its third annual Hunter's Appreciation Day beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Rutledge Town Hall.

Holmes said many hunters will begin preparing food plots and setting up tree stands on their hunting land as well as holding work days with hunting clubs. He hopes many of those hunters have planned those events around the appreciation day.

Last year, around 250 to 300 hunters were on hand during the event. Holmes foresees a bigger turnout this year.

"This year we hope to top 500 visitors," he said.

Hunters pack local campsites, hotels and motels throughout the county during the winter months as well as shop and fill up with gas at local stores. Holmes expressed his appreciation to those hunters.

"They greatly contribute to out local economy," Holmes said. "They are good vacation tourists. We want to make them feel welcome when they are in Crenshaw County."

Organizers say preparations are going well.

"It's going real well," Chamber Executive Director Sherry Richburg said. "It's going to be larger than it has ever been because of the exposure we've received. We've had a lot of vendors, not just local, contact us about booths."

Booths will be located outside town hall in a covered tent. Vendors include:

n Sports Sample: Owned by Luverne's Merrill Sport, the booth will offer a variety of hunting and fishing supplies.

n Big Daddy's Outdoors: Managed by Steve Holmes, the booth will feature an archery range. Bow technicians Billy Schofield of Luverne and Big Daddy's Outdoors and Jeremy Blackmon, who is a staff pro from Ben Pearson Archery in Brewton, will also be on hand giving demonstrations.

n Best Western: Officials of the new motel coming soon to Rutledge will meet and greet people on hand at the event.

n K & K Gun and Pawn: The Highland Home-based business will offer a broad selection of items.

n Donny Richards: Resident of Brundidge and owner of Come Here to Me Calls will be selling game calls.

n Treasures in Wood: Craft booth.

n Colonial Bank of Luverne: Employees will be on hand meeting and greeting visitors.

n Bill Jackson Chevrolet: The Troy-based automobile dealership will display some of its four-wheel drive pickup trucks.

n Melinda Sasser: Arts and crafts booth.

n Lamar and Sandra Holland: Native American Arts and Crafts booth.

n Margaret's Country Story: T-shirts and boiled peanuts.

n Edna Ruth Norsworthy: Indian Jewelry.

Other entertainment and instruction will include, Ed Haas, owner of Rackmaster of Mobile, which sells bio-stimulant, growth hormones for food plots; Johnny Broadway, professional hunter and manufacturer of a complete line of game calls, will give a clinic; FLW professional bass fisherman James Key of Troy will also give a clinic as well as serve as assistant master of ceremony.

Door prizes will also be given away throughout the day.

"We would like to thank to the folks in Rutledge and at town hall for helping host this event," Holmes said. "We hope to continue to be able to hold it there for many years in the future."

The event will open up with an invocation by Donnie Burns of First Baptist Church of Luverne, the Pledge of Allegiance led by the Luverne Boy Scouts and an hour-long Native American demonstration, which will include dancing and music.

The Chamber of Commerce will sell Barbecue chicken plates throughout the day, which will include potato salad, baked beans, bread and pound cake, which will be prepared by members of the Crenshaw County Chapter of the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association. Lawhon's Brunswick stew will also be available and Pepsi Cola of Luverne will sponsor all the refreshments.

For more information, contact Holmes at 335-3371.