Delve into History at the Textile Heritage Trail Conference

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia will host the second annual Textile Heritage Trail Conference on April 17-18 at the Hills and Dales Estate in LaGrange, Ga. The conference will include sessions and workshops on a variety of topics, from researching and interpreting historic textile sites to effective fundraising and marketing, all designed to help communities maximize the potential of their local textile history and use it to attract visitors to their hometown. The deadline to register is Monday, April 14, 2014.

Keynote speakers include Bruce Green, director of Tourism Product Development for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and Jamil Zainaldin, president of the Georgia Humanities Council. In addition to attending conference sessions, guests will also have the opportunity to meet and network with others who are also working to highlight textile history in their areas.

Dr. Ann McCleary, co-director of the Center for Public History, believes that this conference is an important way to serve the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail’s mission of preserving and interpreting the pivotal place of textile history in this region while serving local communities by helping them to build heritage tourism.

"The textile industry in north and west Georgia was essential to the development of this region, and we believe that this Trail provides an excellent opportunity for sharing this important story not only with our residents but with tourists as well,” McCleary said. “We are excited about this opportunity to bring together a variety of people, from museum directors and preservationists to cultural tourism experts and those interested in economic development as well as individuals from our communities, to talk about how we can partner to promote this important and valuable heritage."

The West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail is a regional initiative spearheaded by the Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia that aims at maximizing the potential of existing historic sites to tell the story of textile production in the west Georgia region and using that story to attract visitors to local communities. The backbone of the trail route lies along Highway 27, spanning northwest Georgia from Dalton to Columbus, and includes, not only historic textile mills, but also the buildings which supported the textile industry and the people who worked in it, including train depots, warehouses and mill villages.

The communities along the trail use a variety of interpretative techniques, from simply marking historic sites to providing outdoor exhibits and self-guided tours, to bring the history of textile production alive for visitors travelling along the trail. Guests also have the opportunity to experience the unique culture of west Georgia by visiting local shops, restaurants and hotels. The West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail is sustained financially by a network of members, including individuals, businesses, museums, historic sites and civic organizations, who support the preservation and interpretation of textile history in the west Georgia region.

To register or for more information, including a full conference schedule, registration form and lodging details, please visit the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail website at http://westgatextiletrail.wordpress.com/. You can also contact the Center for Public History at 678-839-6141.