by Taylor Jones
How do you keep a once-thriving shopping center from becoming vacant in your hometown? You turn it into a venue that brings entertainment to locals, and helps your town continue to thrive. That was the goal set forth by Randall Redding, founder of Milltown Music Hall in Bremen.
The shopping center that now houses Milltown Music Hall was once home to one of the world’s smallest Walmart stores. Once Walmart moved locations, Redding, a Bremen native, did not want to see the shopping center become empty. In a conversation with General Manager, Steve Bennett, he began renting the spaces to tenants, including Ingles grocery chain. Ingles then decided to build a larger location in town, leaving a large space that needed to be filled. While racking his brain on how to utilize the space, while providing a service to the residents of Bremen, Redding decided to walk by faith, and opened Milltown Music Hall.
Since opening in 2012, many acts have entertained residents of West Georgia and East Alabama including: The Oak Ridge Boys, Sammy Kershaw, John Berry, Sara Evans, Diamond Rio, among many others. When looking for acts, the goal was to promote the venue, while finding proven talent, says Kelli Weaver, marketer for Milltown Music Hall.
“We tried to find people who were touring, who attracted a crowd, and who we could book. So that we would have all of those elements going together in order to get our numbers up our first two years.”
Five big shows are scheduled for the remainder of 2018, starting with John Conlee on November 9, and the Bellamy Brothers on November 17. Milltown Music Hall will feature three Christmas shows, including a two-night show with David Phelps of the Gaither Vocal Band.
Phelps, who will be performing his Christmas show at Milltown Music Hall for the second consecutive year, has won a number of Dove and Grammy Awards due to his vocal range that has been described as “seemingly endless.” David will perform two dates at Milltown Music Hall, December 7 and 8 with each show beginning at 7:30 P.M. eastern.
The final show of 2018 will be “Christmas with Exile”, with Chris Golden opening. Exile, with hits that include “Kiss You All Over” and “Woke Up in Love”, have been together since 1963 and continue to tour. They will bring their show to Bremen on December 15 at 7:30 P.M. eastern. Opening act Chris Golden has a solid solo platform, and has performed with The Oak Ridge Boys and Restless Heart.
To purchase tickets, or for more information on the wonderful music venue, visit Milltown Music Hall online at milltownmusichall.com
By Taylor Jones
For nearly two decades, the Carrollton Center for the Arts has lived by their mission of providing a diversity of quality fine arts programming for Carroll County, doing so by supporting local artists, providing education and workshops, and by displaying entertaining productions throughout the year. This Holiday season, the Carrollton Center for the Arts has four productions in store that will get you in the spirit.
The Christmas season begins with a three-day performance of The Nutcracker Ballet. A new twist on a classic story, the production directed by ballet coordinator Jurijs Safonovs will feature local dancers in addition to professional dancers, who will star in principal roles. Catch The Nutcracker Ballet November 16 & 17 at 7 PM eastern time, with a Sunday matinée on November 18 at 2 PM eastern.
Duane Sohl’s production of In-Laws, Outlaws, and Others (who should be shot) hits the stage two weeks later, November 30-December 2. According to carrolltonarts.com, this play will “leave the audience in stitches” due to humorous dialogue, outrageous characters, and a heartfelt message. Get your tickets now and get ready to enjoy In-Laws, Outlaws, and Others (who should be shot) November 30 and December 1 at 7:30 PM eastern, and December 2’s show at 2 PM eastern.
As the calendar inches closer to Christmas, the Carrollton Center for the Arts will feature two Christmas concerts featuring artists from the local area. The Community Chorus’ traditional Christmas in Carrollton concert is set for Friday December 7 at 7:30 PM eastern, and Saturday December 8 at 4 PM eastern. In what has become a Christmas tradition for Carrollton for nearly 40 years, the Community Chorus will perform your favorite Christmas tunes to get you in the spirit of the season.
The Carrollton Symphony Orchestra will take the stage December 13 and 14 at 7:30 PM eastern on both nights. Hear the sounds of Tchaikovsky, Irving Berlin, and many others. CSO conductor Terry Lowery also takes requests during the performances, and will perform them on the piano.
For a full list of productions, classes, and workshops that are held at the Carrollton Center for the Arts, visit their website carrolltonarts.org, or reach them by phone at 770-838-1083.
By Taylor Jones
Once the weather cools off, and you dust off that winter jacket, you know that Christmas is in the air. If you want to embrace the spirit of Christmas, be sure to clear space on your calendar for a trip to Noccalula Falls.
Noccalula Falls provides entertainment and attractions for East Alabama families, from BBQ competitions and the Halloween Super Bash, to the botanical garden and campground, Noccalula Falls has it all. Not only is it a great area to spend a day, or weekend with your family, it is also a hot-spot for Christmas celebration.
Located in Gadsden, Alabama, Noccalula Falls “does Christmas right” with “Christmas at the Falls”. This festival of lights opens on Thanksgiving Night, November 22, and runs through December 30. Noccalula Falls features millions of lights that can be accessed two ways: by smooth, paved walking trail, or by riding the parks train.
The lights have entertained many throughout the years, and continue to expand with many features synchronized to Holiday music favorites. Each day also brings something new to “Christmas at the Falls”, so be sure to follow Noccalula Falls on your favorite social media platform to see the latest special events planned during the festival.
The fun does not stop at just Christmas lights. Kids can ensure their wishes are delivered to Santa by writing him a letter at the old Post Office, and hand deliver their Christmas list to special mailbox. Santa will also make a visit to Noccalula Falls, so make sure to get your picture with the big guy himself. You can decorate your own cookie and sip some hot chocolate in the Pioneer Village, there is also a petting zoo that will be available.
“Christmas at the Falls” at Noccalula Falls opens November 22, and will continue through December 30 from 5-9 P.M., with the exception of two dates- December 24 and 25. If you are planning a trip, and it appears that weather may become inclement, be sure to follow Noccalula Falls’ Facebook and Twitter pages for updates on park closure, or call the park at 256-549-4663.
By Taylor Jones
Get Your Ugly Sweater Ready for the Jingle Jog
• By Taylor Jones
Active Auburn invites runners to ring in the holiday season by participating in the Jingle Jog 5K and Santa Stroll Fun Run on Saturday, December 8th in Auburn, Alabama.
Whether you are a skilled runner who wants to compete, or just want to enjoy a stroll through beautiful downtown Auburn, the Second Annual Jingle Jog and Santa Stroll Fun Run has something for every participant.
Beginning and ending at Toomer’s Corner, the Jingle Jog 5K and Santa Stroll Fun Run features two different routes throughout downtown Auburn. The Jingle Jog 5K is a 3.19 mile route, and covers East Magnolia Avenue, to points as far south as Wrights Mill Road, before the last stretch of the race beginning at the corner of Samford Avenue and South College Street. This race will offer eight different awards, awarding first through third place, and best in age-range from 14 & under, to 60-plus.
As for the Santa Stroll fun run, the route will cover East Magnolia Street, South Gay Street, and Miller Avenue, passing Ralph Brown Draughon Library before ending at Toomer’s Corner, a total travel of 0.93 miles. The Santa Stroll will not be scored.
As many 5K and Fun Runs have, the Jingle Jog 5K and Santa Stroll Fun Run has a quirk. There are “color runs”, and races that allow participants to wear an elaborate costume. This race is all about the “ugly Christmas sweater.” So while you are training, be sure to go to the basement and dust off that sweater from 1970 before making your way to the Plains!
Registration is open now through the day of the races, December 8th. For the Santa Stroll Fun Run, registration is $20 through the month of November, increasing to $35 day of the race. As for the Jingle Jog 5K, registration is $25 during November; the rate will climb to $40. Active Auburn says that in order to guarantee that you will get a t-shirt, you will need to register by November 30. A limited number of t-shirts will be available for day-of registers. Registration on December 8th is open from 6 A.M. central until 6:45 for Santa Stroll and 7:10 for Jingle Jog.
To register online, or for more information on the race, visit activeauburn.org
By Taylor Jones
What started as an idea to promote a fine state park in South Alabama quickly became a tradition that many in the south have come to enjoy.
“Scarecrows in the Park” has become a tradition at Frank Jackson State Park located in the small town of Opp, Alabama. Each fall, scarecrows welcome visitors to Frank Jackson State Park during the months of October and November as a way to say “hello to fall.”
Scarecrows in the Park, which is in its 11th year, started out with a group of volunteers who wanted to draw more visitors to the state park located in Covington County.
“We needed some way to attract people to the park, because many people, even in Opp, were not aware of what the park was like,” says Charles Willis of the “Frank Jackson State Park Trail Masters”.
Willis says that the motivation for this event came from one of the Trail Masters founding members, Juanita Blocker. Blocker had the idea to display around 100 scarecrows throughout the park, and it has only grown from there. So much so, that the state of Alabama wanted to help grow the event by constructing a new trail in the park.
Willis estimates that 5,000 guests visit the park during the months of October and November for “Scarecrows in the Park”. Guests easily flock to Opp to see the scarecrows, because of the easy accessibility. Frank Jackson State Park offers transportation for senior citizens who are not able to walk long distances, so that they can take in the scarecrows. The park also welcomes large buses from schools or churches. Frank Jackson State Park is also friendly to those who are traveling from out of state. There are cabins located inside the park that have as many For more information on “Scarecrows in the Park”, and on Frank Jackson State Park, visit alapark.com/frank-jackson-state-park online.as three bedrooms, as well as a number of hotels in the Opp area.
A free gift for you!
It’s the most wonderful time of year… That’s what the song says, so it must be true, right? Absolutely! The holiday season is made up of amazing opportunities to gather with loved ones, remember and reflect on the past while making precious new memories, and most importantly remembering the reason for season. It is fun, exciting, and inspiring, but if we are being really honest with ourselves, then it can also be hectic, overwhelming, and exhausting. There are a million things to do, and it often seems like there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Well, this year Southern Holiday Life is here to help!
We are introducing our first Holiday Planning Guide, and it is a free tool to get you organized and ready to embrace this holiday season with a game plan to maximize this amazing time of year. It is an easy to use booklet that will give you space to plan out the season from Christmas card lists to budgets and menu planning to gift trackers. This is our gift to each of you this year, so that you can spend the your holiday season making memories and living in each moment rather than getting lost in the chaos.
Download the PDF, print and get organized this holiday season!
#MaryLeeCaldwell #HolidayOnPurpose #FreeGift
More than 250 women gathered in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on March 4 for the inaugural Lean On: Alabama Lifestyle & Leadership Conference. With close to two dozen speakers on the agenda, the day was packed from the morning’s opening session all the way through the closing reception that evening.
Lean On: Alabama is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that brings women together to form inter-generational partnerships by building an innovative statewide platform which promotes collaboration, development, and investment in each other and the community.
The conference aimed to provide opportunities for the women of Alabama to build relationships while sharing knowledge and experiences, along with learning from others who have forged a path as leaders in their families, communities, churches, government, and businesses.
“The inaugural Lifestyle and Leadership Conference marked the beginning of what Lean On: Alabama hopes to do in our state,” said Mary Lee Caldwell, president and co-founder of the organization. “We are already seeing relationships that were formed at the conference take shape and help people grow personally and professionally. This is only the beginning, and I cannot wait to see where this road takes us.”
Keynote speakers for the event included Amber Aziza, Liz Huntley, Peggy Orenstein, Sarah Patterson and Carolyn Rush. Thirty-six additional speakers also conducted breakout sessions on a variety of topics. Each speaker throughout the day aimed to impart their wisdom in some way – from strategy and tactics to inspiration and goal-setting.
“Be strict about your goals. Be flexible about how you get there,” said Carolyn Rush, director of brand strategy for Worn Creative. “If you see another women up for a promotion, offer her a recommendation. Encourage her. Do whatever you can to stand together.”
Following the conference, Lean On: Alabama will continue working around the state, including launching Iris Circles, which will be small inter-generational groups of women offering opportunities for fellowship, collaboration, and support.
“After our inaugural conference, I am more excited than ever about fostering inter-generational networks of women supporting each other,” said Marsha Grady, vice president and co-founder. “Our conference attendees included women of all ages, colors, faiths, cultures, and walks of life. We learned together and from each other – and left inspired to inspire and empower each other in all areas of our lives.”
To learn more about Lean On: Alabama,
Do you know where these pictures were taken? Here is a little help with the towns... Austell GA, Orlando FL, Hiram GA, Pigeon Forge TN, Savannah GA, LaFayette AL, Valley AL, Dublin GA, Gadsden AL, Greenville SC, Edisto SC, and Carrollton GA.
Photos by Andy Petty