John Howell column 1-29-13

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Praise effusive for city from Winter Classic visitors

Batesville folks did what they do best last weekend. They demonstrated the same innate hospitality to the many out-of-town guests visiting for the UKC Winter Classic as they would have for their neighbors down the road.

Everywhere we went as we walked through the Civic Center on Saturday morning, the praise was effusive — for our city, our Civic Center and our citizens.

“You go to any restaurant and they ask, ‘Are you here with the coon hunt?’” UKC official Paul Frederick told me.

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That was just one of many anecdotes I gathered as I walked around, watching a bench show start, viewing vendors’ wares, and looking for hunters who had been out for Friday night’s hunt.

“The venue is great; it’s better than the World Hunt,” said Jim Coleman of Leesville, LA.
“There’s been no town so helpful,” UKC President Wayne Cavanaugh said.

I heard about a group of hunters who traditionally get together for a cookout on the eve of the annual Winter Classic. Weather had curtailed their plans in Batesville until they ended up at Cafe Olé where the management just turned part of the restaurant over to them so they could have an indoor cookout.

“I met some incredible people,” Burns Barbecue owner Sidney Burns Jr. said as he named the home states of his many dining guests during the weekend.

And so it went. Dozens of experienced local coon hunters and woodsmen served as guides for the many “casts” of dogs in the hunting competitions. The local hunters and their out-of-town guests reciprocated each other’s excitement. Guides who led dogs and handlers who scored high in the hunting competition were as proud as if they owned the dogs themselves.

And it should not go unmentioned: Part of the reason that it was easy to be hospitable to the out-of-town guests who visited during last weekend’s UKC Winter Classic was that they were so courteous, easy-going and appreciative themselves.