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June 5, 2014

Cullman Parks and Rec. poised to bring in visitors, dollars

As the summer begins to heat up, the Cullman City Parks and Recreation department is ramping up its slate of activities for the upcoming months, and hoping to have a positive economic impact on the community.

Waid Harbison, marketing director of Cullman City Parks and Recreation, said the department was looking to build on last year’s successes.

“We definitely have a big summer coming up, this is our biggest time for baseball and softball tournaments,” Harbison said. “Last year we actually broke our record for the most tournaments we’ve ever had [over a weekend] at Heritage Park.”

Harbison said that city parks hosted as many as 125 teams over a June weekend for tournament games, some of which lasted for as long as four or five days.

“You’re looking at 5,000-6,000 people coming into Cullman for an event of that size,” Harbison said, adding that “We’re going to have some of those same tournaments back this year.”

In addition, the parks department will be helping prepare for a national archery tournament at St. Bernard. The McKenzie Archery Shooters Association Pro/Am Tour will be in Cullman Aug. 1-3.

“It’s a very big event,” Harbison said. “And it brings in anywhere from 3,500-4,500 people, including all the families.”

“A lot of these families have realized that Cullman is a very family-oriented community,” Harbison added. “It’s very safe here, and they don’t have to worry about their kids as much.”

The parks department will also be hosting a yard sale and crafts fair, as well as the annual “Christmas in July” family event and food drive at the Cullman Wellness and Aquatic Center.

“My philosophy on this is that the more parks and recreation activities that we do, the better the quality of life is,” Harbison said.

Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce President Leah Bolin said she believes that the growth of recreational opportunities will contribute to spurn economic growth, even outside of tourism.

“Recreation fuels sectors other than tourism,” Bolin said. “It fuels manufacturing, relocation, the retail sector.”

“It really touches a lot more than one might imagine in terms of significant economic potential,” Bolin said. “It is a significant component of tourism and a major economic impact.”

Bolin said that for families considering a move, top recreational opportunities are a big advantage.

“When folks are looking at relocating to an area, one of the major components is quality of life,” Bolin said.

Bolin said that the Chamber of Commerce and parks department have been working together toward similar goals.

“What these partnerships do is to create a steady foundation to move bigger projects forward,” she said, adding “I think we’re at a really great place.”

“There’s really something for everyone here in Cullman,” Harbison concluded. “I think it contributes to Cullman being so safe and a family-oriented kind of environment, because there are so many opportunities to get involved.”

For more information on recreational events, contact the Cullman Parks and Recreation Department at 256-734-9157.

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