As the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce moves into new quarters on Hwy. 400, I reminisce about the pride we felt when the Historic Old Jail was restored and renovated as a home for the expanding chamber.
That year (1995) was also when a fledgling Council for the Arts was organized, but it would be five more years before that organization found a permanent home — in another renovated historic building.
In September 2000, the “Old Rock School” became the Ralph and Ludy Bowen Center for the Arts. Next month will see the present council celebrating a 10th anniversary with special displays and a gala.
Both those reclamations, as well as renovation of the Historic Courthouse on the Square (completed in the early ‘90’s), were made possible by cooperation between individuals, family groups, businesses, organizations and government entities.
Each of the buildings is an excellent example of reclaiming a portion of history, while moving progressively forward. Each also represents a great amount of ingenuity and hard work.
I look forward to visiting the new chamber offices and to learning how the Old Jail will be utilized.
In the meantime, I’ve been helping to unearth and organize memorabilia for the arts celebration.
Who remembers the first “Coming Home” with paintings displayed all over the Historic Courthouse? That December event revived memories of earlier (before courthouse restoration) Christmas holiday celebrations sponsored by the Woman’s Club and featuring choirs from various churches. Who could forget the several May Day Festivals with the DeKalb Symphony, Maypole dancers, and picnicking on the lawn at (then-new) Gold Creek and the (now Veterans Memorial) Park?
Those were pre-cursors of “Home for the Holidays,” Art in the Garden/Spring Fling, Community Chorale concerts. Events become traditions and grow into bigger events. Be ready to share those and many later memories as you celebrate the “Best of Bowen.”
It is fitting that the present exhibits at Bowen Center are from our own Blackberry Creek artists. Not all, but some of those whose works fill the center this month also welcomed visitors in their studios on several “Seeking Treasures” Tours.
Before September, however, you will have had opportunities to celebrate Dawsonville’s 150th birthday with “Southern Nights,” gamble at “Casino Night” for the Humane Society, enjoy roadsides and television almost free from political ads (at least for now), watch youngsters begin a new school year — even open a new school, revel in the possibility of a Varsity chili dog, swelter in the hot August sun, and prepare yourselves for a busy autumn.
And be grateful for all those people who have made Dawson County such a good place to live.
Helen Taylor’s column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.