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Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park Hosts Heritage Festival

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 | 09:16am

Event Will Help Commemorate Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary

MILLINGTON, Tenn. – The year 2012 marks Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary, and to help commemorate this important milestone, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park will host a Heritage Festival Oct. 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Free and open to the public, the festival will celebrate American traditions, skills and legacies. Visitors can enjoy demonstrations, games, live music, interpretive programs for the entire family and hourly programs presented by Tennessee State Parks. State park rangers from several parks, along with local Civil War re-enactors, will demonstrate atlatl throwing and spinning and present a program about Pinson Mounds.

The festival will also feature longhunters, an 18th century trading post, corn husk dolls, a soap-maker, a Civil War author, and stone carver. Storytellers and live music from three local bluegrass/country bands, will also entertain festival visitors. Vendors of heritage crafts and unique foods will also be on site.

“We are very excited to celebrate Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary this year,” said Park Manager Steve Smith.  "The Heritage Festival offers something for the entire family and for all age groups.”

Also making an appearance will be Tennessee State Parks’ new traveling anniversary exhibit, which hit the road this year to tour state parks and various communities – sharing Tennessee State Parks’ rich and storied history. Enclosed in a colorful trailer emblazoned with various images and logos, the exhibit interprets the origins and heritage of Tennessee’s state park system.

The Tennessee State Parks system was established through legislation in 1937, and those laws – with modifications and additions over the years – remain the framework for park operations today.  As in most states, Tennessee began in cooperation with federal programs that instigated individual parks. Later, Depression era recovery programs gave a boost to the idea and the possibility of creating parks. The Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration worked on land conservation, but also delved further into the actual planning and construction of what would become the first of 54 Tennessee State Parks.

Today, there is a state park within an hour’s drive of just about anywhere in Tennessee.  A 2009 University of Tennessee study highlights the positive economic impacts that state parks provide local communities, particularly in rural areas of the state.  The study found that for every dollar spent on trips to Tennessee State Parks, an additional $1.11 of economic activity was generated throughout the state.  When the direct and indirect expenditures were combined, the impact of Tennessee State

Parks to the state’s economy was $1.5 billion in total industry output, supporting more than 18,600 jobs.

“Our vision statement highlights the inherent value of our natural environment, along with the value of the many physical reminders of Tennessee’s past,” added Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill. “Tennessee’s state parks have played such an important role in our history, and they play a critical role in our health and quality of life, which will benefit Tennesseans well into the future.”

Tennessee’s state parks deliver a rich fabric of natural landscapes, wild places, preserved ecologies, outdoor recreational opportunities and protected historic scenes and resources – together representing the heritage of Tennessee in the landscape.

Tennessee's 54 state parks and 82 state natural areas offer diverse natural, recreational and cultural experiences for individuals, families or business and professional groups.  State park features range from pristine natural areas to 18-hole championship golf courses.  For a free brochure about Tennessee State Parks, call toll free at 1-888-867-2757. For upcoming events in connection with the 75th Anniversary of Tennessee State Parks, please visit the state parks website at www.tnstateparks.com.

In commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation launched an innovative new microsite at www.tnstateparks75.com. Established in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the microsite displays Tennessee State Parks’ rich heritage and showcases the many outdoor adventures awaiting state park visitors through rich media and dynamic content.

Bordering on the mighty Mississippi River, two-thirds of this 13,467-acre park consists of bottomland hardwood forests of large oak, cypress and tupelo. The park also contains two lakes and many miles of hiking trails. The Meeman Museum and Nature Center is named for Edward J. Meeman, courageous conservation editor of Scripps-Howard newspapers who helped establish this park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park maintains a boat ramp on the Mississippi River. Deer, turkey, beaver and some 200 species of birds are abundant.  For more information about the park, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/MeemanShelby.

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