President of the Cornyval Festival and Rodeo
I had an opportunity to sit down and speak with the President of the Cornyval Festival and Rodeo, David Gray. Gray became the president of Cornyval 10 years ago. He grew up in San Antonio but now lives out in the country, in a town called Mico, Texas. Gray has been around with the Cornyval Festival and Rodeo the entire 36 years of being at the new location. He started off as a young kid working at the very first rodeo on the new Cornyval grounds and has been here ever since.
Gray grew up around rodeos and he started entering rodeos at the age of 10. Gray’s dad, Don Gray Sr. used to work for Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, Texas. Back in the day, Pearl Brewery was the number one selling beer in the state of Texas. Most of the rodeos back then didn’t have any electricity in the rodeo arenas so that means they also didn’t have sound. So, beer companies came up with these sound trucks with generators and speakers on top of them and that is how you got sound at the rodeos. Gray Sr. would go to all these rodeos with his sound truck from Pearl Brewery. Gray Sr. would also be the announcer at the rodeos or he would even enter to compete in the rodeos.
When it’s rodeo time, Cornyval doesn’t really sell Pearl beer but Gray will go down personally and get a case or two to have it on stand-by. A lot of seniors come by and that’s their go-to beer. They love it and it brings back a lot of good memories.
Gray had a career with CPS Energy as a supervisor in the powerplant. The entire time that Gray was in his career, he was still putting in a lot of time and dedication to the Cornyval Festival and Rodeo. One thing I want to note is that everyone putting in their time is not compensated that includes Gray and all the volunteers as Cornyval is a non-profit organization. Every single person puts in so much work and love into putting the event together as well as maintaining the grounds. They are truly the definition of teamwork.
Gray retired 4 years ago from CPS Energy and came over to Cornyval to continue working to make this place the best of the best. Gray has so much love and passion for this place. It’s remarkable that Gray could be doing anything, but he is here putting in 40 hours a week to make this place something special for his community. Gray received a Lifetime Achievement Award this year from the Chamber of Commerce for everything he does. Gray said, “It’s not me, it’s the whole organization. It’s not a one-person deal, it takes everybody to put it on.”
Gray shared some neat history with me, the rodeo movie called 8 Seconds with actor Luke Perry was filmed in the Cornyval grounds arena. In the movie, you’ll see sponsor signs over the bucking shoots that are still present in the Cornyval arena today. Most of Cornyval’s sponsors have been with them since the very first rodeo!
Another awesome thing about the Cornyval rodeo arena is that a section of bleachers along the arena was brought in from the movie, Friday Night Lights film set. The movie was filmed in Austin, Texas and after the movie the film crew was going to have the set of bleachers destroyed. Gray happened to know the captain of the film crew who gave him a call to see if he wanted them and here they are today. A lot of history and good stories run through the Cornyval grounds.
As you can tell by now, Gray is a big rodeo guy, he loves rodeos! Gray’s favorite thing is seeing the success of Cornyval Festival and Rodeo. He likes to see how much it has grown and what it does for the community-it’s a big boost when the event is taking place. So many people are coming into the area and Gray loves seeing what it does for the non-profits and everything else. Gray stated, “I’m not here for the accolades or any of that. I want to see it get bigger and better every year.”