Clay ‘150’ celebration set, more volunteers needed

CELINA – A year-long schedule of events is set for the Clay County Sesquicentennial in 2020, and volunteers are needed to make the unique event a success, says the head of the group organizing the event.

“There are more than two dozen subcommittees that have already been at work for many months on the 150-year anniversary,” said Melissa White, chairman of the Historic Preservation Committee, the group approved by the county commission to oversee the “150” celebration.

“The primary purpose of the Sesquicentennial celebration is to commemorate Clay County’s founding and unique history while looking to our promising future,” White said.

Volunteers are needed from across the county for the many subcommittees tasked with bringing the counties history to life. 

“The 26 Sesquicentennial subcommittees are planning a year-long celebration of Clay County’s 150thbirthday, including a week of events in June 2020,” White said. “We urge you to look for announcements about upcoming events, which include a Sesquicentennial family tree book, first families of Clay County, community exhibits, artifact exhibits, folklore and oral history events, living history events, parades, musical performances, student projects, media presentations, river tours, plus many others to be announced.”

The historic preservation committee (HPC) was resurrected in September 2017, and the group soon began working on coordinating efforts for the sesquicentennial.

“In June 2018, the HPC hosted a kickoff event at the historic Clay County Courthouse. Commemorative knives and t-shirts have been on sale since that time,” White said. “The genealogy subcommittee has hosted multiple workshops in the various communities of our county and has issued almost 60 first families certificates and collected almost 100 Clay County family trees for the Sesquicentennial book.

“The education subcommittee has met with all Clay County teachers to offer ideas and support for teaching Clay County history in all schools. The media subcommittee has digitized multiple videotapes that document Clay County History. The Sesquicentennial Facebook page and website are operational,” White said.

Spreading the word

Chamber of commerce director Kevin Donaldson said marketing efforts have been underway for quite some time.

“We’ve been spreading the word about the ‘150’ for well over a year already,” Donaldson said. “It’s already been incorporated into virtually all our regional and online advertising and marketing efforts, and we need everyone’s help in doing this. Anytime you see a Facebook post about the event, please share it and spread the word.  

“We need help in spreading the word beyond Clay County, and we’ve already started the process of partnering with the state Dept. of Tourism and some regional magazines to expand the reach of our marketing efforts,” Donaldson added. “We’re going to make a special outreach to former Clay Countians who live elsewhere to be a part of the celebration.”

Volunteers needed

“Because our celebration covers all of 2020 with many events across the county, we need as many people as possible to be involved,” White said. “We need diverse perspectives.  We’ll only have one sesquicentennial – we only have one opportunity – and we want it to be a very special event.  Ideally, we’ll have several dozen volunteers to help make this happen.

“So many of our residents remember what a special time and event, the centennial was in 1970,” White said. “We want the ‘150’ to be just as memorable, if not more.”

For more information on the “150” or to volunteer, contact the chamber of commerce at 931-243-3338. T-shirts and commemorative knives are also on sale at the chamber. The price on knives will go up in 2020.  

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