Dadeville’s Senior Center will host the Alabama Bicentennial exhibit, Making Alabama, from Tuesday, April 23, to Thursday, May 2, said Tallapoosa County Tourism Director Sandra Fuller, who expects to roll out the county’s new tourism website at about the same time. The traveling exhibit is an Alabama Bicentennial project, which is now crisscrossing the state to highlight historical events that defined Alabama’s statehood. The county’s local bicentennial committee has arranged for several celebratory activities during the exhibit’s visit.
“We’ll have a ribbon cutting for the exhibit; and then, we have invited local dignitaries and officials to a luncheon with Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller as the speaker,” Fuller explained. “We hope this will be the start of quarterly meetings among this group, more communication and cooperation on projects that promote the area.”
Hope is an important part of the bicentennial exhibit, she added, as the last panel in the eight-part exhibit focuses on hope for Alabama’s future. Each 8-foot by 8-foot kiosk in the exhibit includes interactive displays; each one explores decisions and turning points that shaped the state’s future.
On Saturday, April 27, a community celebration will take place outside the center where the exhibit will be housed during its visit. In addition to demonstrations of settlers’ and Native American life – such as blacksmithing and quilting – there will be vendors and other displays, including an activity hosted by Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.
The displays will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, and civic and school groups are encouraged to tour the displays, Fuller said. In conjunction with this event, local historian Harold Banks has compiled historical information and photographs about local landmarks and events for a tabloid that will accompany the exhibit, which is an Alabama Humanities Foundation project in partnership with the Alabama Department of Archives and History and the Alabama Bicentennial Commission.
“I want people to know what we have here and be proud of it,” Fuller said.
Since taking the county tourism position four months ago, Fuller has been working toward that goal, primarily with the development of a website that will offer information about hundreds of local events and activities year round, including filming industry tourism.
She spent time with state film tourism officials early this month to show off the area’s landmarks, topography and features that might provide excellent backdrops for movies. She also has explored the county in search of businesses, organizations and activities to include on the new website.
“I have probably met a hundred people I didn’t know before I started this job in December,” Fuller said. “They are all passionate about what they do.”
In addition, Fuller and other local tourism entities recently consulted with National Park Service officials for strategies that could be used to tie events and activities in the local area into a cohesive tourism district.
“There is so much here, and we want to be able to promote the area within the area,” she explained. “By that I mean that we could provide information at each venue about additional things to do at other places in the county.”
That’s also a part of her objective with the new website, which will include lesser-known activities, happenings and locations, as well as the most popular in the area.
“I was looking into geocaching, and I thought there might be a few sites around the lake. There are more than you think,” she said. “Jackson’s Gap has 106; 54 in Dadeville. Alexander City has 87. There are a lot of these things around! And people travel to find them.”
Geocaching is a treasure hunt in which players use GPS to find hidden objects. Once a cache is found, cachers sign the log inside it, replace it for the next treasure hunter and record their discovery online.
“We want to find as many activities as possible to put on the website – as many opportunities as we can find for people to come here; as many fun things to do when they get here as we can come up with,” she said.
Fuller got her first sneak peek at the new website at the end of March and is in the process of tweaking and improving the display of information. She hopes the website will be available in time to play a part in the promotion of the Making Alabama exhibit.
For more information about Making Alabama, visit makingalabama.org/the-exhibit/.