August 4, 2008
Come to Chattanooga!
In a few short weeks the temperature will begin to dip, and none too soon the fall season will arrive in Tennessee. September brings added excitement with Assembly 2008, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies gathering in Chattanooga.
Chattanooga is nestled high above the river that bears the state’s name. The city combines the charm of a small town with the luxury and excitement of a big city. A beautifully renovated downtown area and redeveloped waterfront embrace the rich heritage of the region, and outstanding public art adds to its identity as an undiscovered cultural gem.
Remarkable is the only way to describe how the content and direction of the Chattanooga meeting has evolved. The brilliant NASAA staff has secured the very best for Assembly 2008, from keynoters to briefing and workshop leaders. And they challenged my staff to provide the best of Tennessee hospitality in a Chattanooga setting.
You will love this city and the surrounding region, and that is why you must arrive early and take advantage of the adventures we have scheduled – beginning with a journey to a place you’ve heard about all your life: Lynchburg. Here Jack Daniels found the clear spring water necessary to make his whiskey that flows out of the hillside, and now flows freely into the distillery and ultimately across the taste buds of citizens of the world. That day-long adventure includes the best southern-style food you will ever eat at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House, where every dish is prepared with love and many are flavored with Jack Daniels. The afternoon includes shopping to satisfy any spirit on the quaint town square that surrounds the most charming and smallest county courthouse you have ever seen.
We have designed four Thursday morning Chattanooga adventures that will make the choice difficult:
- Adventure I: If you think water and art don’t mix, let us prove you wrong. The amphibious Chattanooga Ducks pick you up at your hotel to begin an aquatic plunge into the Tennessee River, and then along the city streets to quack at the many pieces of public art that are dotting Chattanooga neighborhoods, art you won’t see in the downtown area. (Tennessee Arts Commission staff had a blast, and we were sober.)
- Adventure II: Love history? Love adventure? Then, you’ll go dizzy with delight when you board the world’s steepest incline railway and scale the side of Lookout Mountain in air-conditioned comfort to Point Park, site of the Civil War’s “Battle above the Clouds.” (TAC staff calls it Mt. Everest meets Mt. Vernon, sort of.)
- Adventure III: If you are eco and want to get friendly, then hop aboard a new catamaran-styled watercraft and explore Tennessee’s “Grand Canyon,” the Tennessee River Gorge. (TAC staff called it “breathtaking.”)
- Adventure IV: If it is art you want to see, bring your eyes and your feet and enjoy the unbelievable investment this city has made in public art. (TAC staff thought of it as “cruisin’ for culture,” and it is free!)
You like parties and special occasions? We got ’em! We begin with the Welcome to Chattanooga opening reception that provides a complete and convenient evening of fun at the Hunter Museum of American Art in the Bluff View Art District. Choose from great exhibits, yummy food and drink, a craft show featuring the area’s best craft artists, music around every turn, sculpture gardens, area attractions, and a view to write home about. The Houston Museum of Decorative Arts, three great restaurants, and galleries and shops in the Art District will be open for your enjoyment. The closing party defies description, but let me just say it will be so much fun you will not want to leave, and don’t! And in between we are throwing in the governor and first lady, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a Tennessee showcase, and a little lady we call Dolly.
Come on home to Tennessee. See you in Chattanooga in September!