One man’s dream comes true
Ray Cotton had a dream about having the best rodeo
venue in the Southeast Texas, Southwest Louisiana region. It took three years,
a lot of work and money, but Ray’s dream has come true.
Adjoining the large Texas Longhorn Entertainment
Complex, Cotton built the largest and best covered rodeo arena the area has
There were a few stumbles along the way. The most
major was that as the roof was being installed and the bracing was not
complete, a strong windstorm blew the roof off and caused a few of the support
beams to collapse.
Billy Hayes, the job foreman, and his crew, just
picked up the pieces and started all over again. The arena is completed, the
back pens are in place, the bleachers are installed and the arena is ready for
the first rodeo.
Rodeo Director Coleman Peveto had the unique ability
to design the arena and to custom build his own announcer’s stand. Peveto and
Cotton are long time friends. Peveto has nearly 40 years experience in the rodeo
business. That coupled with Cotton’s experience were enough for the two men to
collaborate on the state of the art arena.
The announcer’s stand is a one of a kind. It has visibility
that gives the personnel in the stand a view of both the bucking chutes and the
roping box. From the “front porch” the announcer, secretary, and timer have a great
view of the action plus access to the unequaled sound system.
Cotton had some “antique pine lumber” that he was
saving for a special project. Peveto managed to use the lumber on the announcer’s
stand. Cotton had misunderstood Peveto when he asked to use the lumber.
“I thought you meant the other stuff, not my antique
boards,” said Cotton when he saw the completed stand. “It does look good, I’m kind
of glad you used it,” said Cotton later.
When asked if the announcer’s stand was air
conditioned Peveto remarked, “Ray said he will not buy me an air conditioner
until I make him some money.”
The two old friends clearly enjoy each other’s
company and have a mutual respect for each other.
Peveto designed the back pens to be able to hold a
large amount of rodeo stock, from calves to the large bulls.
“Those pens will hold 300 bulls, if we ever need the
space for that many,” said Peveto.
The bucking chutes are top quality with great slide
gates and room for the biggest bulls. One innovation is the addition of
concrete bottoms in the chutes. This will give the bucking stock better footing
due to the roughed up surface. Three of the chutes will give a right hand delivery
and three a left hand delivery.
The roping box on the west side of the arena is
built to the specifications of the PRCA. The chute for the calves and steers is
fed by an alley that puts the stock in the proper position to be ready to run
when the gate is open.
The Longhorn staff has the best interest of the
contestants in mind. Directly behind the bucking chutes is an air conditioned
medical building. Paramedic Mike Prado will be at each event and has the best
available conditions to treat any injured contestant.
Peveto has held several team ropings at the new
arena. The word about the venue has been spread. At the last roping there were
238 teams registered.
Peveto, working with Cotton’s daughter Tina Cotton,
is planning a varied rodeo program.
Tina Cotton is responsible for the day to day
operation of the Longhorn Entertainment Complex and brings her business acumen
to the negotiations as she and Peveto are working to make the Longhorn the home
arena for several Louisiana based rodeo associations.
The duo has been working with the Professional Bull
Riders to bring a PBR tour to the arena in the near future. They also have a barrel
racing association bringing in a schedule of barrel racing cowgirls to the
The American Cutting Horse Association is also
expressing interest in bringing ACHA competition to the Longhorn this fall.
The first rodeo in the new arena will be August 15.
It will be an open rodeo with any one eligible to enter any event. It will give
the area a glimpse of the facilities. This rodeo will be the start of the
nearly weekly rodeo action
There will be a bull riding October 3 that is to be
a benefit for Shane LeBlanc. LeBlanc is a bull rider that suffered a severe injury
that has confined him to a wheel chair.
Ray and Tina Cotton are making the arena available
for the bull riding and Jerry Nelson, a top PBR contractor will bring some
bulls from the PBR tour. Harrington Cattle Company will also bring their PBR
tour bulls. Tom Teague is bringing items for the auction. Teague will possibly
bring some “straws” from some of his bulls to donate to the auction.
The action will begin in the morning with a barrel
racing contest that will be an open race. Any cowgirl with a fast horse will be
welcome to enter.
A special time at the arena will be the monthly flea
market. The market will start on September 4 and 5 and then run monthly on the
first weekend of each month.
Ray Cotton has another long time goal. He will build
a three story motel adjacent to the arena. On the arena side the rooms will
have balconies with a view of the arena. “You will be able to watch the rodeo
without ever leaving your room,” said Cotton.