Cullman County Park and Rec Director Doug Davenport has been task with making the county parks the best of the best over the last eight years. Davenport took on the responsibility to better the Cullman community and give every citizen a place to relax and have fun. Rather it is enjoying a summer day at Smith Lake Park, the Splash Pad at Sportsmans Lake, the beauty of Clarkston Covered Bridge, watching a rodeo at the Cullman Ag Center, riding the trails of Stony Lonesome, or watching your kids eyes light up while driving through one of the largest Christmas displays in the Southeast at Sportsmans Lake Park, there is always something for everyone to enjoy.

The Christmas Spectacular begins November 20th at Sportsmans Lake Park. Doug and his crew spend countless hours installing the displays and hanging lights. It is estimated to be over one-million lights on display as you drive through the winter wonderland. Santa is always a big hit as he travels from the NorthPole to make several visits to the park each year. The staff at Cullman County Park and Rec genuinely go above and beyond to make your Christmas experience the best.

To think back over eight years can be challenging to do. To sum up the accomplishments Doug and his staff with Cullman County Park and Rec have completed, Cullman Daily has compiled a list:

Clarkson Covered Bridge

-Restored the bridge after a 30-year project set idle.- Replaced the waterwheel with a new metal wheel.- Converted the old mill house into a rental cabin.- Had the pond dredged. Over 330 triaxle dump-truck loads were removed from the pond.- Built a new broader and safer boardwalk over the dam.- Added QR Codes throughout the park to educate about the environment and other species.- Added additional walking bridges throughout the park.

Smith Lake Park

– Repainted all buildings.- Remodeled most buildings.- Opened first-ever camp store offering food, fishing tackle, and other camping supplies.- Rebuilt the pool and renovated the pool area.- Added kayak, canoe, and bike rental program.- Remodeled the putt-putt golf course.- Added an additional 22 RV camping sites.- Added a new rental cabin.- Worked to bring the park into ADA Compliance.- New LED lighting throughout the park.- Helped with grants for a new boat ramp project.- Renovated boat ramp from 2 lanes to 6 lanes.- Add new boat docks. Went from a single small dock to four docks in over 200 feet in length.- Added 83 new boat parking spaces.- Assisted with bringing the FLW and Bassmaster bass tournaments to Cullman.- Started Smith Lake Bass Fest, the largest bass tournament out of the park since the Anderson BoatSeries Tournament with over 248 teams.- Brought the Sweet Tater Festival to the park and currently manage the festival.- Built a new entrance into the park.- Expanded camper storage area.- Added new playground equipment.- Established the Tricks and Treats in the Park event for campers and the community.- Established the Christmas Decoration and Lighting Event to increase December camping.- Added additional electrical hookups around the stage area.- Established the largest Pepsi Can in the state with the help of Pepsi Cola.- More than doubled the revenue of the park during special events.

Stony Lonesome OHV Park

– Added an additional eight cabins.- Added additional RV and camping sites.- Assist with organizing special events.- Expanded the parking areas.- Added lighting to the parking areas.- Assisted with bringing storm shelters to the Bremen area.- Building of a four-bay carwash at the park.- Built and expanded retail store selling park merchandise, camping, and riding supplies.- Added security cameras at check-in points.- Designed new trails throughout the park.- Assisted with grants for new ATVs for park maintenance.- Established the annual Stony Lonesome OHV Park Mud Run.- Added new check-in entrance and procedures.- Added a new bathhouse to the park.

Sportsman Lake Park

– Remodeled concession stand to offer a full line of food items, including pizza, hotdogs, nachos, cheesesticks, and french fries. Also added many new dessert items, including ice cream cones,milkshakes, sundaes, banana splits, and more.- Replaced train track around the lake.- Purchased a new train for the park.- Added canoe rentals and aluminum fishing boat rentals.- Expanded and paved the walking track.- Added exercise equipment along the walking track.- Added a bike rental program.- Added bounce house area.- Cleaned and expanded grass areas in the park.- Remodeled the putt-putt golf course.- Added new lighting and electrical outlets around the walking track.- Added five new pavilions.- Added a new gazebo next to the lake.- Opened the Activity Center for gatherings with seating up to 75 people.- Established the annual Sportsman Lake Park Glow Run.- Assisted with bringing the splash pad to the park.- Added a new water fountain feature to the lake.- Installed several security cameras for safety issues.- Opened up the first park rental cabin.- Established and assisted with many special events.- Added new playground equipment.- Expanded the Winter Wonderland and added many new displays each year. Added new activitiesfor families to enjoy photos with Santa, sleigh rides, snow machines, and Christmas Carolers.- Increased the Winter Wonderland revenue over five times.

Cullman County Agricultural Trade Center

– Increased local events by nearly double.- Established many annual events.- Added a digital display sign on the road to promote events and park tourism.- Remodeled the building and facilities.- Added new lighting around the facilities.- In the process of adding a camping section with hookups.- In the process of installing a new roof on the building.

When asking how it is possible to accomplish all of these things in a relatively short amount of time, Davenport said, “None of this could have been accomplished by myself. I have an excellent staff along with generous support from the Cullman County Commission.” To say Doug Davenport and his crew with Cullman County Park and Rec have done a tremendous job over the last eight years would be an understatement. Still, Cullman is thankful to have a park director that cares about his community and has the leadership to pass along to the staff.