Looking for some pickin’ and grinnin’ for adults or some bouncin’ and water slidin’ for kids? How about some good BBQ for everyone? If any or all of that sounds like fun, then the town park in Cleveland would be a good travel destination Monday, Sept. 2. That is the site of the town’s annual Labor Day BBQ and Bluegrass Blowout. Attendance is free.
Town and park officials who have been planning the event for months believe this will be their best celebration yet. Local children will take the stage at 10 a.m. to show off their musical talents. Around 11 a.m. a dulcimer group, the Mountain Melody Players, will perform followed by an open stage and jam session. Visitors are encouraged to bring their instruments. At 1 p.m. the Pine Mountain Blue Grass Band will take center stage.
Children not interested in good music can take advantage of the large blow-up water slide and a blow-up bounce house that will be on hand.
The menu for the day, as the festival name implies, is BBQ. Whole Boston butts can be purchased, as can pork ribs, BBQ plates, and chicken quarters. Food can be bought at the event or pre-purchased through a park board member. Contact town hall at 274- 9640 to get the contact information for a park board member.
The history of Cleveland’s park goes back to 1969 and also includes a BBQ. The town purchased 10 acres that year and applied for a $12,500 grant to develop the property. The grant required matching funds, but according to the late Eldridge Bynum’s book, Cleveland Alabama 35049, the town was able to use “donated labor and materials” to meet the match. The park was opened and dedicated in August of 1972 where the first fundraising BBQ was held to purchase furnishings for the park.
In the following years, civic-minded town people continued the work on the park. One official says more often than not, Bynum was at the center of these efforts.
Cleveland’s Little League baseball team did not have the facilities needed to play home games, so in 1988 about 20 parents banded together to change that, and they did by building a field that conformed to the necessary requirements. Many other improvements that people enjoy have been made thanks to the park’s boards over the years with the support of the town council. These include pavilions that are available for rent, an amphitheater with covered seating, community tornado shelters, a small covered bridge, and more baseball and softball fields. Trees that have died or been downed by storms are replaced as needed to continue to supply ample shade for visitors. Additions are still coming. Indoor batting cages are being planned for the near future.
Cleveland’s town council and park board extend an invitation to everyone to come spend the day with them. All proceeds from food sales go to maintaining and improving the park.