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Cedars of Lebanon to Host Works Progress Administration Day Oct. 6

Wednesday, October 03, 2012 | 08:53am

Event Will Help Commemorate Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary

LEBANON, Tenn. – The year 2012 marks Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary, and to help commemorate this important milestone, Cedars of Lebanon State Park will host its annual Works Progress Administration Day on Saturday, Oct. 6.  The event will feature the opening of the WPA time capsule from 1937 and the signing of a giant pair of WPA overalls by local dignitaries.

Free and open to the public, this annual celebration will feature historical and cultural programs throughout the day, along with unique demonstrations – all portraying life during the period when Cedars of Lebanon State Park was created.  A cornbread-cooking contest will be held at the Cedars Forest Lodge. All entries should be submitted at 9:30 a.m. Judging will begin at 10:30 a.m. and winners will be announced at the formal dedication ceremony at 1 p.m.

“We are very excited to celebrate Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary this year,” said Cedars of Lebanon Park Ranger Wayne Ingram.  “WPA Day is designed for all ages, with numerous activities and educational opportunities planned.”

WPA Day presenters and exhibitors include: 

  • Betty Sue Williams – Basket making
  • Wanda Shotwell – Weaving
  • Roy Harper – Musician, artist and painter. A retired brakeman, Harper received the Tennessee Heritage Artist Award and numerous other awards recognizing his traditional folk country music.
  • Lex Conaster and Chuck Linville – Fiddles.  These avid fiddle collectors will demonstrate the rich history of fiddle playing in the park.
  • Walter Tatum – Blacksmith
  • Wayne Thompson – Single cylinder engines
  • Jeremiah Barnes – Crosscut saw demonstration and competition
  • Mark Newberry – Third generation traditional chair maker
  • Mac Davidson – Traditional tools. Davidson is a devoted antique trader and collector of traditional devices and tools required for daily living and work
  • David Rowland – Traditional wood shingle making
  • Visitors are encouraged to also visit Cedars of Lebanon State Park’s historical photographs and documentation exhibit at the Lodge.

The Works Progress Administration was established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration to help provide economic relief to the citizens of the United States who were suffering through the Great Depression. Cedars of Lebanon State Park was created to bring jobs and economic activity to Middle Tennessee by reclaiming approximately 9,000 acres of deforested lands unsuitable for agriculture in Wilson County. The land was purchased from 60 local farmers, many of whom were resettled. Jobs were provided for 300 members of the WPA to replant and develop the park for recreation and conservation.

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.

Cedars of Lebanon State Park and State Forest are located in the southwestern part of Wilson County within the central basin of Tennessee. Both were established during the 1930s as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s program to resettle people and replant the Cedar trees that had been heavily harvested. The area now contains one of the largest juniper forests in the country.  For more information about the park, visit www.tnstateparks.com/Cedars or call (615) 443-2769.

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