Mary Lee and Bill Dixon took their passion for cutting horses and turned it into a multimillion dollar charitable gift to the Ascension Parish community. After their family business went public, the Dixons were actively seeking a way to tie their professional expertise into a charitable project.
“We’ve been blessed by the business doing well and feel we should give something back to the community,” Mary Lee explained. “I had great teachers in ‘giving back what you get’ in my parents and Kevin (Reilly Sr.) and his wife Dee Dee. That’s what Bill and I are trying to do.”
The result? The Dixons constructed the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, a state of the art multi-use events facility that will support charitable organizations and community development. For several years Mary Lee and Bill dreamed of creating a place for equestrian events that would also serve as a multi-purpose events venue in their home parish. Located on St. Landry Road, about a mile from Tanger Outlet Mall, the Expo Center offers parish residents an exposition center capable of seating several thousand people. Mary Lee is the daughter of Charles Lamar Jr., founder of outdoor advertiser Lamar Corporation and Bill is a professional cutting horse trainer and competitor. In 1997, they established the Bill and Mary Lee Lamar-Dixon Fund to support organizations that focus on the education of nontraditional students. Additionally, Bill and Mary Lee, and her brother Charlie Lamar and his wife Carole, serve as donor advisors to the Charles and Josephine Lamar Memorial Fund, a fund that honors their late parents.
The Expo Center is a result of the Dixons combining their professional experience, interests and community needs into one philanthropic project. “This is what we know,” Mary Lee said. “This is how we can give something unique to the community.”
In 2009, the Lamar Dixon Expo Center officially became an Ascension Parish owned facility. Ascension Parish was able to purchase the facility through the use of grants and private donations and without having to use local tax dollars.
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