His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety seeks to in­crease tourism

Or­ga­ni­za­tion work­ing to bring back the Pow Wow to Polk County, draw in crowds for a Septem­ber event

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Sean Wil­liams swilliams1­[email protected]­hoo.com Edi­tor Kevin Myrick con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Tourism is a boost the econ­omy in Polk County needs, and Greg Gray of the Polk County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety has a great idea to get more peo­ple to visit lo­cally.

He took to the Polk County Com­mis­sion’s Mon­day, April 8 work ses­sion and an hour later to the Cedar­town City Com­mis­sion’s reg­u­lar ses­sion as a del­e­gate to speak on the con­nec­tion be­tween lo­cal his­tory and tourism, as well as to ask for co­op­er­a­tion from the county and city in fu­ture events.

“I’m hop­ing that I can per­suade you all to throw a lit­tle more sup­port to­wards look­ing at tourism as a rev­enue,” Gray ex­plained.

The so­ci­ety, de­spite cur­rently re­ceiv­ing lit­tle to no fi­nan­cial back­ing from the county, has been host­ing self-funded, self-or­ga­nized events to both honor the his­tory of Polk and draw in ci­ti­zens from out of town.

This spring, the group even be­gan host­ing tours of his­toric ceme­ter­ies, houses, and much more. The mu­seum, which re­cently moved into a much larger build­ing, is open from 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. ev­ery Thurs­day, Fri­day, and Satur­day at 117 West Ave., Cedar­town.

The group is by no means de­pen­dent on county govern­ment for as­sis­tance, but there’s no telling how much more the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety could ac­com­plish with some ad­di­tional aid. Of note, the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety rents both the mu­seum and the Hawkes Li­brary from the City of Cedar­town.

Gray’s hop­ing that with more events go­ing on in the area, Polk County can ben­e­fit from much needed eco­nomic growth brought on dol­lars from out­side of the area.

“We’ve al­ready had, this past Satur­day, a tour at Greenwood Ceme­tery,” Gray said. “What we’re work­ing on now is, and if there’s any way the county could help on this, we’re plan­ning on do­ing a pow wow up here at the fair­grounds. Right off, if there’s any fi­nance money un­der the ta­ble or any place, we’re need­ing a thou­sand dol­lars to pay rent on that place.”

The idea is that, if the county were will­ing to sup­port events like the Pow Wow, the in­creased tourism would more than pay for any seed money sup­plied. Gray ac­knowl­edged the bud­get for the year had al­ready been set­tled but asked for them to con­sider the so­ci­ety the next time around.

Dur­ing his ses­sion with the City of Cedar­town, Gray laid out an am­bi­tious plan for or­ga­niz­ing the forth­com­ing Pow Wow in Cedar­town, a re­turn of the event not held for the past sev­eral years. Cur­rently, the cal­en­dar has a ten­ta­tive date of Septem­ber 20 through Sept. 22.

Gray is work­ing with the Cedar­town Ex­change Club to rent the fair­grounds for the space, and plans in­clude a Sun­day Memo­rial walk along the Trail of Tears start­ing with prayer ser­vice in Big Spring Park to open the fi­nal of the three­day event. He said due to the larger num­ber of peo­ple that could po­ten­tially come for the event, he wanted to move it from its pre­vi­ous home at the Bert Wood Youth and Ath­letic Cen­ter to an area that al­lows for greater park­ing and space.

Cedar­town of­fi­cials told Gray that he would have to work with the city to ask for per­mis­sion to use the park, and buses would be used to move peo­ple back and forth to dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions around the city.

No money was pledged to­wards the Pow Wow or the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, but the com­mis­sion seemed more than will­ing to co­op­er­ate with Gray in the fu­ture. County Com­mis­sion Chair Jen­nifer Hulsey men­tioned the group even had plans to dis­cuss the His­toric Van Wert Church and its preser­va­tion.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate all you do, and also, the Van Wert Church, it’s some­thing we’ve been talk­ing about,” Hulsey said. “We’re go­ing to be meet­ing on that. We’ve talked with Michael about it. There are par­ties that are in­ter­ested in look­ing at do­ing some­thing, so we’re gonna con­tinue with that, Mr. Gray, and hope­fully, we’ll have some­thing rolling pretty soon. There may be a grant pos­si­bil­ity.”

Those in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about the Polk County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety can visit https://polkhist.com/.

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