Titled "Celebrating and Preserving the Legacy of Historic Hobson City," the opening ceremony featured speeches from elected officials from around the county.
This year's event is special for two reasons; it is the 110th anniversary of Alabama's oldest all-black municipality, and the town recently made it onto a state list of historical "Places in Peril."
The event has generated interest in the town from around the country.
Mayor Alberta McCrory promised the crowd of more than 50 people gathered at the old C.E. Hanna School that while the town may have fallen on hard times, it's not going anywhere.
"It's not necessary for Hobson City to dissolve," McCrory said. "We don't want to dissolve."
Among Friday's speakers were Oxford Mayor Leon Smith. The two communities share a common history; it was Oxford's decision to de-annex the area which led to the town's formation in 1899.
Now Hobson City's children attend Oxford City schools.
"Our school systems are connected together and I'm proud of that," Smith said.
He encouraged the town to keep working on its problems, like a lack of basic services such as a police force. Smith promised Oxford would help the town as much as it could. It was a sentiment shared by Mayor Gene Robinson of Anniston and Mayor Johnny Smith of Jacksonville.
Rep. Steve Hurst, D-Munford, said legislators would work together to get economic development officials and Gov. Bob Riley to find business to bring to the town. State Sen. Jim Preuitt, D-Talladega, presented a Senate resolution supporting Hobson City in honor of the event.
He was interested in improving roads through Hobson City, saying the town seems to be "bottle-necked."
Frazine Taylor, chairwoman of the Black Heritage Council said the offers of help were well-received.
"We're going to see what happens," she said.
Susie Jones, a town councilwoman and president of Concerned Citizens of Hobson City, said the forum came about in- part because of a group project to preserve the town cemetery. Jones called the Black Heritage Council for advice, and she said those discussions eventually became part of the reason BHC chose the town.
"Who knew it would lead to this," she said. "Let's just stick with it and don't stop."
The conference continues today with several panel discussions on tourism, historic preservation, community planning and community and economic development.