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

ever seen.

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.