Editor, The Daily Home:
The Talladega Pilgrimage Council once again would like to thank the many people who helped to make the 2014 “April in Talladega” weekend so successful. Every aspect of the event - from the tour of historic and beautiful homes to the visitation by ghostly former citizens at Oak Hill Cemetery to the delightful reception at Heritage Hall with the Perry Austin Exhibit to the opening of the historic Masonic Lodge to the display of folk artists and the talking tent at Heritage Hall and the Talladega Public Library, the fabulous cooking show by Chef Dave Garfrerick, to the vendors and volunteers at the A.J. Powers Memorial Lodge in Winterboro, and the delicious luncheon and fashion show by the Episcopal Day School at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church - was a treat in and of itself!
The owners, members, volunteers, and docents of these various entities are to be commended for the pride in which they took and the efforts to which they went, to make certain that each of these places were displayed in their best light to the many attendees.
We could not have held this citywide weekend event without the cooperation of the city of Talladega itself and its leaders. The City Council granted funds to help support the expenses of the weekend. Brian Muenguer, as city manager, arranged for all of the city departments to provide for our needs (and who also personally helped move all of the trash cans after the party on Saturday night - talk about hands on leadership!), along with the help of Brian Hutton from the Talladega Recreation Department, Dewayne Stephens from the Public Works Department, Jerry Taylor, building inspector, and most especially Mitch Bass from the Community Appearance Department, who helped to make the city so attractive and to Chad Sharp for helping us with so many things on Saturday night. Thanks to Graham Davis for helping us with power on the square for the Saturday night event and getting the Kenwin Waldrip building restored in time for the event. Special thanks to Police Chief Allan Watson and Captain Leon Thomas who helped to make our “April on The Square” party go so smoothly. Wayne Hall with Talladega County and the people at the Talladega County Courthouse made our square the true center for the weekend. A special thank you goes to Mayor Larry Barton who helped to show off Talladega on his television program! The many sponsors for the “April on the Square” were the force behind the party on Saturday night and provided the funding for band and the jump castles for the children.
The Pilgrimage co-chairmen - Beth Lumpkin and Donna Edmiston - and I would like to thank the various committee chairman - Lindsay Moses, Misty McGehee, MerriBeth Keith, Jennifer Peters, Sally Lawrence, Judy Elliott, Melanie Armbrester and Kyle Brown, Dede Elliott, Marion Clark, Andrea Montgomery, Candi Edmiiston ,Cathy Thornton - and fellow Pilgrimage Council members who headed up the tour this year. Every aspect was a true success.
The homeowners went to a tremendous amount of time and trouble to help us with this pilgrimage and we thank Mrs. Nelson G. Conover, Mrs. Salome Manley, and Mrs. Zack Dollar, Mr. and Mrs. Terry Hill. Jason Daves, Melissa White, and Laura Ann Ingram at The Talladega Chamber of Commerce worked for weeks, and we could not have done without the talents of Kelly Williams and the docents at Heritage Hall, George Culver and his crew with the Historic Ritz Theatre , as well as AIDB, which kicked off the weekend with “The Miracle Worker”. Thanks to Bill McGehee, Judy Elliott, Lynn Hanner, George Culver, Jake Montgomery, and Paul Edmiston who haunted Oak Hill Cemetery on Friday night. The Junior Welfare League helped in several areas, and gathered the hostesses and refreshments. Cheerleaders and their helpful sponsors from several area high schools manned our jumpers on the square. Brannons and Cathe Jacobs printed almost everything we did! Southeastern Signs helped to advertise and mark our tour. Becky Griffin and her crew showed off their love for our neighboring community of Winterboro and its lodge. First National Bank and Griffin’s included our mailouts in all of theirs and, therefore, helped us publicize our event to many folks.
And, of course, many would not even have knowledge of our special hometown event were it not for the efforts of The Daily Home and Laura Atchison to help us publicize it. The enticing, descriptive articles about the various venues of the pilgrimage, the lively and festive photographs by Brian Schoenhals and Bob Crisp, and the help by Sandy Carden and Janice Keith with publicity throughout the area were appreciated by not only the committee, but also enjoyed by the town itself, and were a vital part of the success of “April in Talladega”.
Countless numbers of people worked on this event, as hostesses at the homes and churches, ghosts at the cemetery, providers of food at the reception, and as committee members whose jobs brought all of the work to fruition. Untold numbers are really responsible for “April in Talladega” and more than 3000 folks participated by attending and or helping with this wonderful weekend.
Recently, the Talladega Pilgrimage Council donated $7,500 to help with the restoration of the Kenwin Waldrop Building next to the Ritz. In the last three years, we have contributed over $18,000 toward projects in Talladega. The council hopes to donate soon to restoration and preservation efforts in the Silk Stocking District.
Maybe you were one who attended the home tour and saw the beautiful flowers or the cemetery tour, were served a delicious tea on Sunday afternoon by folks at the Callie’s Kids, enjoyed the museum exhibits or the reception there, had lunch and a fashion show, sampled the Purefoy and Tuscan recipes at the Cooking Demonstration, bought a yummy cake at Winterboro, were one of the 1,500 or so who bounced or brought your lawn chair to hear the band on the courthouse square – whatever your part was, thank yourself most gratefully from The Talladega Pilgrimage Council for helping to make our annual weekend in our town such a good time. The efforts of the Pilgrimage Committee have never been strictly to raise money for restoration and preservation, but also to show off what we have here - history, heritage and hospitality. This year was once again a resounding success! Money was raised and a good time was had, but the community spirit that poured forth could not be bought.
Put us down on your calendar for next year April 10 and 11, 2015! We are already hard at work to make changes and improvements, and we promise that “April in Talladega” will be even better. Make plans to be a part of it and a part of something good happening in Talladega. Make plans to attend a part you missed this year. There are activities for all. Remember, the proceeds really do go back to Talladega to support the restoration and preservation of our own buildings, which form our city’s foundation and make us all proud to be from such a lovely small town.
Read about us on our website, Aprilintalladega.org, and like us on Facebook (thanks to Graham Hadley and multimediapartners)
Once again Talladega did us all proud! We all that know Talladegans respond to each other in times of need and concern. Wasn’t it fun to come together for a good cause, have a good time together, and celebrate what we have and love here?
Thank you one and all.
The Talladega Pilgrimage Council and 2014 Co-chairmen Evelyn McGehee, Beth Lumpkin and Donna Edmiston