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
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.
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Photos by Andy Petty