What was old is new again – Boothe Event Center hosting open house

Published 8:53 am Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Batesville and Panola County residents will be able to tour the Boothe Event Center in a special open house weekend event. Local buzz about the obvious renovations underway at the old Piggly Wiggly and Perry’s Restaurant location on Hwy. 6W and Eureka Street has steadily increased as the extent of the remodeling can be seen by passing motorists.

“Everybody knows this property as the old Piggly Wiggly, but we hope that very soon people know it has the best event center in our area,” said owner and investor Leonard Boothe, who has spent a year completely changing the Batesville landmark into an event center he believes will serve the Batesville trade area well.

“Right now there is nothing like what we have built and have planned for the people of Batesville,” Boothe said. “We have several venues that people rent for weddings and parties but nothing on this scale. I really believe people will be amazed at what we have accomplished so far and they will be able to visualize what the finished event center will be.”
The Red, White & Blue Weekend beginning Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. will be an open house and 7 to 11 p.m.  there will be a 1st Friday Celebration (tickets $15) and live music at 8 p.m. Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. will be Kickback Saturday with family entertainment.

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During the open house visitors will be able to see the remarkable transformation that Boothe and his family have made of the event center. Already completed are three large rooms, complete with seating for hundreds, and two new patio areas.

Coming soon will be the new commercial kitchen. Until then, parties and events can be serviced by outside catering. Boothe and his son Anderson, also a real estate investor, explained the center is designed to host mega events, or small gatherings simultaneously with separate rooms and entrances.

A large area at the rear of the event center is already fully equipped for events that feature open bars, and it also opens to outdoor seating and places for a yet-to-be-built stage for live music. Further plans, Boothe said, include using the upstairs (formerly business offices) for private dining with an intimate setting.

He one day hopes to have decks built for rooftop dining and events.

All of the renovation hasn’t been cheap. The project is approaching a $1.5 million investment, all built when construction materials were at a premium.

“When we started the studs we bought were two dollars and we were paying more than twelve for the same lumber before we finished the framing,” Boothe said. Still, the investment has been worth every dollar, he said, to build an event center that serves Batesville and sets an example of what can be achieved with vision and hard work.

Boothe, who grew up in Batesville and made a career in the U.S. military, thought he would live out his retirement comfortably in southern Florida, enjoying sunny weather.

Instead, his mother’s declining health and a new romance brought him back to Batesville where he realized that his life experiences could bring fresh ideas to the area of his youth.

His family formed a non-profit organization that helps families buy and maintain their own homes while encouraging minority investments.

“I didn’t know I would be coming back to Batesville, but I’m so glad that life led me this way,” said Boothe. 

Mayor Hal Ferrell said he was impressed by Boothe’s energy and ideas from his first meeting and has already seen firsthand the difference the Boothe family has made in a few short years in Batesville.

Friday’s open house is an exciting opportunity for Boothe and all of Batesville the mayor said, noting that with the accessible location Boothe is revitalizing the southwest corner of Eureka and the highway.

“My congratulations go out to Leonard Boothe,” Ferrell said. “With full visions, skills, and the desire to remodel an existing structure in Batesville, he and his son Anderson have created a new commercial venue for many different purposes.”

There will be food and drinks at the open house and the Saturday event, and the Boothes are expecting large crowds.

“We want everyone who is interested to stop by for a tour,” he said. “There is a lot of sweat and tears in this project and we want the people to see what is now available for them.”

Boothe credits his time away from Batesville and his extensive travels during his military career as the foundation for his business success and the driving force behind the event center project.

“There is no doubt that none of this would have been possible without my experiences in the world outside of Batesville,” he said. “My dream is to show the people here what can be accomplished if you learn better ways and not stay rooted in the same old things that keep people from achieving their goals. I hope someone experiences the event center and does something to achieve their own success.”