The Southeastern Livestock Exposition began as the brainchild of then ACA President Jim Adams in 1958. During his year as President, Adams had three major agenda items he wanted to push. These were the creation of the monthly Alabama Cattleman magazine, the inception of the Alabama Beef Promotion Program (the 10 cent voluntary checkoff), and the formation of an association to promote the entire livestock industry, not just beef cattle.

On April 23, 1958, this new association came to fruition as the Southeastern Livestock Exposition, Inc (SLE). The five men who were there to sign the original papers of incorporation with Jim Adams were: J. Ernest Lambert of Darlington, W.O. Crawford of Burkville, and E. Ham Wilson, Aubrey H Fleming, and C. Ed Teague of Montgomery. The original purpose of the SLE was “to promote the breeding, production, development, and marketing of better cattle, swine, sheep, and horses, by the exhibition of such livestock at public events…”

The first organizational meeting of the SLE was held in Montgomery on June 26, 1958 with 45 charter members in attendance who ranked among the state’s most prominent agricultural and agri-business leaders. The first officers for the organization were: Jim Adams, president, J. Ernest Lambert, W.O. Crawford, and Edward Wadsworth, vice presidents, E. Ham Wilson, secretary-treasurer, and C. Ed Teague, assistant secretary-treasurer. By the time of its first annual meeting held six months later, the SLE membership numbered 89. For many years, a select membership totaling no more than 100 was the norm with new members being required to apply and be voted on for membership.

The most successful and widest-known project of the SLE is one that’s still going on today. At the first organizational meeting, the members voted to sponsor the first championship rodeo to be held at the Garrett Coliseum and produced by stock contractor Tommy Steiner. This event has grown to become the annual Southeastern Livestock Exposition Championship Rodeo held each March featuring the best cowboys and cowgirls in the business. In its early years, the SLE Rodeo hosted such special attractions as the stars from hit TV shows like “Annie Oakley”, “Gunsmoke”, “Tales of Wells Fargo”, “Rawhide”, and “Bonanza”.

Today’s SLE Rodeo focuses not only on drawing the nation’s top rodeo athletes by hosting the PRCA Rodeo, but also on reaching out to serve and educate the livestock industry and the River Region community as well. The youth of Alabama’s livestock industry are a big part of SLE Week and are visible throughout whether they’re participating in horse shows, riding in one of the wagon trains, or exhibiting livestock in the Junior Beef Expo or other shows hosted by the SLE. On top of that, visitors to the SLE will often see groups of young people attending the SLE Rodeo as part of their local scouting club, church youth group, or other youth organization. Another way the SLE welcomes in the public and highlights the livestock industry is by hosting each year the “Miracle Rodeo”, an event aimed at bringing handicapped and special needs children out to interact not only with the cowboys but some of the animals involved in SLE Week.

Past SLE Presidents 

  • 1958-1979 – J.L. Adams
  • 1980-1981 – Edward Wadsworth
  • 1982-1983 – David Crawford
  • 1984-1985 – John M. “Bubba” Trotman
  • 1986-1987 – Dr. Billy Powell
  • 1988-1989 – W.R. Lanier
  • 1990-1991 – Harold Pate
  • 1992 –             Jim Hart
  • 1993-1994 – Dr. Phil Hardee
  • 1995-1996 – Dr. George Smith
  • 1997-1998 – Bill Johnson
  • 1999-2000 – Ned Ellis
  • 2001-2002 – Dr. Woody Bartlett
  • 2003-2004 – Dr. J. Lee Alley
  • 2005-2006 – L.D. Fitzpatrick
  • 2007-2008 – Tim Coe
  • 2009-2010 – Nealy Barrett
  • 2011-2012 – Camp Powers
  • 2011-Present – Bob Helms



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