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Cedars of Lebanon to Host Re-Opening of the Dixon Merritt Interpretive Center and Butterfly Garden

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 | 09:17am

LEBANON, Tenn. – Cedars of Lebanon State Park will host a grand re-opening of the Dixon Merritt Interpretive Center and Butterfly Garden July 20 from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Free and open to the public, the event will showcase the completely remodeled Interpretive Center and Butterfly Garden, while also offering a variety of activities for all ages throughout the day. Festivities will kick off at 9 a.m. with fresh donuts and coffee.

“After nine months of planning, demolition, rebuilding and re-imagining, we are excited to celebrate the re-opening of the Interpretive Center and the Butterfly Garden,” Park Manager Kenny Daniel said. “We have fun and educational activities for the entire family scheduled throughout the day.”

Breakfast with the Birds will begin at 10 a.m. and there will be an opportunity to meet the family members of Dixon L. Merritt, who was instrumental in gaining approval for the original nature center, at 12:30 p.m. The ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. Park rangers will end the day with a hay ride at 8:15 p.m. with special guest Ray Pope, who will play common Tennessee owl calls in hopes of attracting the attention of owls that reside in the park.

Other event highlights include a native plant and butterfly garden tour, a nature walk to Jackson Cave to view the cave ecosystems and the web of life beneath the forest as well as the opportunity to meet the park’s snakes and colorful birds of prey. In addition, local musicians will perform throughout the day.

Dixon L. Merritt was born in Wilson County on July 9, 1879. He was an accomplished newspaperman, naturalist and historian. The building that houses the Interpretive Center was constructed in 1939 and originally served as a bathhouse for the first swimming pool at Cedars of Lebanon. In 1969, a new pool was built at the park and the bathhouse remained empty until 1974, when it was converted into the Interpretive Center.

For more information about the grand re-opening, contact Wayne Ingram at 615-453-3028 or  

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


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