Free Fall Outings: Patrons gain complimentary access to cultural centers Sept. 29
by Marie Nesmith
Sep 16, 2012 | 3507 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marcus Toft, naturalist at Red Top Mountain State Park, clears an area behind the venue’s Mountain Cove Discovery Room for a future wildlife garden. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Marcus Toft, naturalist at Red Top Mountain State Park, clears an area behind the venue’s Mountain Cove Discovery Room for a future wildlife garden. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Thanks to a pair of offerings, area residents will be granted complimentary access to various cultural venues Sept. 29. While Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites will present Your State Parks Day, Georgia Museum Inc.’s Bartow History Museum and the Booth Western Art Museum will partake in the eighth annual Museum Day Live!

Your State Parks Day

Through Your State Parks Day, which formerly was known as Save My State Parks Day, Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites will look to spur volunteerism and visitation.

Along with exploring Cartersville’s venues — Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site and Red Top Mountain State Park — free of charge, attendees will be able to participate in various volunteer efforts. Presented during a statewide celebration of National Public Lands Day, Your State Parks Day will be sponsored by the Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites.

“Save My State Parks Day came about during the very beginning of the significant budget cuts that our parks have taken over the past few years all over the state,” said Damon Kirkpatrick, president of the Friends of Red Top Mountain State Park and director of Operations & Development for the Friends’ state organization. “Save My State Parks Day happened when we were really facing the possibility of site closures. We were facing some serious damage to the state park system. Luckily we’ve come through most of that. The budget cuts have been very difficult to deal with but we’ve kept all of the parks open and intact.

“What we want to do now is remind everybody, ‘Hey, the parks are still here but we need your help.’ So the idea is really about promoting stewardship, reminding everyone, ‘These are your state parks.’ And what we would like people to do is come out to Red Top or any other park or historic site and get involved, see what it’s like to volunteer. Most of our sites around the state will be having a volunteer opportunity where people can really get [involved], get their hands dirty and understand what it’s like to volunteer with us, hopefully to come back again and volunteer with us some more.”

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Red Top patrons will be invited to partake in a wildlife garden volunteer project behind the Mountain Cove Discovery Room, 50 Lodge Road S.E. in Cartersville.

“Over the past two years, after our lodge closed we’ve really taken our lemons and made some lemonade,” Kirkpatrick said. “We’ve converted the old restaurant into a Discovery center, which has hands-on activities for kids, a bird watching area, things like that. And now we’re starting to work on the outside of the Discovery area, where we had nice bushes and a nice area for people to look at while they were dining.

“We really want to change that so it’s a more interactive area. So we’re going to replant the entire garden outside the Discovery Room. We’re planting plants and flowers that will attract more birds and more butterflies, more things to see and interpret. So in the future when you’re visiting the Discovery center you can spend some time seeing nature right there outside the windows. So we’re really excited about it. ... [On Sept. 29], we hope everybody will come, volunteer a little bit and see what it’s like and also enjoy the park.”

At Etowah Indian Mounds, patrons will be able to show their support by participating in various beautification projects, ranging from painting to trimming overgrown bushes, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“[Along with] a sense of accomplishment, we want them to understand that it is their park,” said Steve McCarty, interpretive park ranger for the Etowah Indian Mounds, a 54-acre site where several thousand American Indians lived from A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1550. “All these parks are theirs. They are the people’s parks and [it is important] for them to have some connection [with them].”

Along with completing volunteer tasks, visitors also will be able to tour the venue from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regarded as the most intact Mississippian Culture site in the Southeast, Etowah Indian Mounds at 813 Indian Mounds Road in Cartersville features six earthen mounds, a village area, a plaza, borrow pits and a defensive ditch.

The site also provides several educational displays, such as a wattle-and-daub house, which is a replica of a residential structure; an American Indian garden at the venue’s front entrance; and a 9-foot-by-7-foot diorama designed to show what the location could have looked like in A.D. 1300.

Museum Day Live!

On Sept. 29, Museum Day Live! participating venues, which will include Cartersville’s Booth Western Art Museum and Bartow History Museum, will charge no admission during the Smithsonian magazine offering.

“We feel it’s a worthy endeavor to do at those two museums to support the Smithsonian magazine and to have one day a year when folks who might not otherwise be able to come to the museum [be] able to come for free if they go to the Smithsonian magazine website and download the coupon, which is what they have to do to get the free admission,” said Seth Hopkins, executive director for GMI and the Booth museum. “We’ve seen in the past that we have doubled and tripled the normal attendance on that particular day and while we lose a little bit on not making the revenue that day for the people that come through, we hope that they enjoy their visit and spend some money in the store or the cafe and maybe decide to become a member or come back some other time and bring friends or family.”

In 2011, more than 350,000 people visited Museum Day venues. This year’s effort is expected to draw nearly 400,000 attendees, with more than 1,400 museums and cultural institutions participating across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

On Sept. 29, individuals will need to bring a Museum Day Live! ticket — which will be emailed to participants after they submit their information online at — to be admitted. The website also contains a complete list of participating venues and Museum Day Live! details, such as one ticket covers two attendees.

Located at 501 Museum Drive in Cartersville, the Booth museum opened in 2003, became a Smithsonian affiliate in 2006 and currently houses the largest permanent exhibition of Western art in the U.S. Along with its permanent collection, visitors will be able to view its temporary exhibitions.

“Here at Booth, we’ll be in the last week of the Henry Inman exhibition, which is the portraits of Southeastern Indian leaders,” Hopkins said. “That closes Oct. 7. It’s very interesting because it’s portraits that were done of these Native American leaders in the 1820s and 1830s when they were going through a very trying time, that’s leading up to the Trail of Tears and their land and way of life was being threatened.

“They were going to Washington, [D.C.], to lobby the government to basically be left alone and they were treated like visiting heads of state and sat for these portraits and so on. But in the end, within 10 years of all these paintings being done, they had all been removed to Oklahoma or other areas out West.”

With a Museum Day Live! ticket, patrons also will be able to partake in a complimentary tour of the Bartow History Museum, 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville. Divided into six galleries, the BHM’s permanent exhibits include “A Sense of Place,” “Bartow Beginnings,” “Community Champions,” “People at Work,” “The Coming War” and “Toward New Horizons.”

Guests also will be able to view the “We Did This Ourselves: The Community’s Effort to Elect a Governor” exhibit that will be on display in the BHM’s feature exhibition gallery. In honor of the 30th anniversary of Joe Frank Harris being elected Georgia’s governor, the display will highlight his political accomplishments and the local residents who supported his gubernatorial campaign. The exhibit will open Sept. 27 with a ribbon cutting at 5 p.m., followed by a film presentation — encompassing stories from some of Harris’ supporters — in the Booth’s theater at 6 p.m.