It’s time to say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new year, along with all the hope and promise that a new year brings. Before we do that though, I thought we should look back on the year ending, and highlight some of the great things that happened in our community over the past year that has really put our tourism efforts on the minds of many Georgians around the state. None of this would have been possible without everyone across city and county lines, organizations and community leaders working together to make a positive difference in the marketing of our little part of the world.
First, we had some awesome events this year…the Chamber Banquet, the Fur Ball, PirateFest at Jackson Lake, the Native American Festival, Artifacts Day, the Jackson Alive Festival, Halloween on Second Street, Christmas in the Village, the Holiday Tour of Homes, just to name a few, all serving to draw visitors from the middle Georgia region to our community for food, fun and entertainment.
We had art festivals and art showings. We had fun events at Dauset Trails and Indian Springs State Park, and we welcome a few thousand bicyclists to Butts County for a weekend at event at the Trails. Breakfast with Santa and barbecue cook offs. Small town festivals in Flovilla and Jenkinsburg. Ribbon cuttings on new businesses such as a new event center and new restaurants. Overall, we had a great year and we could not have done it without a lot of people pitching in, volunteering their time and talents, working hand in hand to promote each event, getting the word out and talking us up wherever they went.
Stranger Things came back and filmed Season 2 and the movie industry continued to send scouts our way looking for new and interesting things to film. Three new restaurants and a coffee shop opened in downtown Jackson and are thriving, including Bradley’s Tavern, Third Street Station, “Strickly” Business and Lucy Lu’s Coffee Cafe. All have been warmly welcomed by Butts County residents and a variety of visitors coming in to see where Stranger Things has filmed.
Fresh Air Barbecue was named by the State to the prestigious “100 Plates that Georgia Loves” list and Southern Living Magazine named Jackson as number 5 on its list of “Prettiest Small Towns in Georgia”. Speaking of the state, we hosted their entire tourism product development team for two nights and showed them everything that was going on here. They came back in November and showed us what we were doing right and what we could improve. All in all, it was a truly spectacular year for our community!
While we savor the many positives that 2017 brought to us, let’s look ahead to the new year of 2018 and some of the things that are going to be going on in Butts County. The new State Conference Center at Indian Springs State Park broke ground a year ago today as I write this and should hopefully be ready to open soon. A new pizza place, “The Brickery” has been built, almost from the ground up, and will be opening in the next few weeks. Lucky’s Italian Restaurant will be moving to a new location soon.
Work on the Jackson Trails to connect Jackson to Dauset Trails and Indian Springs State Park is really starting to come together and push forward. Grants have been applied for to help this process move forward. Of course, both of these places have a busy year ahead, with Dauset having their annual Blue Birds and Blue Grass Festival in the spring and Indian Springs making improvements all over the park.
The Village at Indian Springs State Park is always doing something. Even during the slow months of winter, beautiful weather is plentiful and all these locations offer great opportunities to get out and get some fresh air. Why not check them out?
We’ll continue to put out updates on Facebook and Twitter, as well as post to the community calendar located on this website. New articles will be going up too about community events and happenings. While things may be slower during this time of the year, spring will be here before we know it so check back regularly to see what is going on. Finally, I hope each of you have a great 2018 and I look forward to seeing you out in the community in the months ahead.