Saturday is the day to gather up the sunscreen, lawn chairs, and shades and head downtown to celebrate the opening of Burr Performing Arts Park and honor its benefactor, Jeanne Burr, for JeanneFest 2.0.
The celebration will be at the park site, 101 South Hamilton Street, across from the Dalton Chamber of Commerce, Saturday, May 19 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.; it is free and open to all.
“We hope the park will serve as a magnet to the downtown area,” says Burr who bestowed $1 million upon the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia to construct and maintain the downtown park. “The park is already a success because it exists. So many generous people have come together to make the park a reality, and that says a lot about this town.”
“This town” has been Burr’s home for over 50 years since she and late husband, Bill, settled in Dalton with their two sons Jeff and Bill. Burr raised her family in Dalton and immersed herself in the local arts community as a patron and occasional performer. For her 90th birthday, she decided it was time to give back to the community she loves and along with son, Jeff, settled upon the idea of endowing a park in downtown Dalton.
“Jeanne has always been a rare combination of dreamer and roll-up-your-sleeves realist,” says son, Jeff. “When she met the like-minded David Aft (president of the Community Foundation) there was an instant connection.”
Aft has overseen development of the 1.1-acre park, which includes a performance stage with sound system and grassy berms, dotted with benches and trees. JeanneFest 2.0 will include live music, food trucks, and oversized sunglasses and will celebrate the arts community. A highlight of the afternoon program will be a group singing of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” a popular hymn composed by Dalton’s own A.J. Showalter, whose music publishing company — which later became Lee Printing — once stood on the site now occupied by Burr Park.
George Woodward of the Downtown Dalton Development Authority noted that beyond being an ideal venue for concerts and other large gatherings, the park will be a key economic driver.
“Our hope,” Jeff Burr said, “is that after JeanneFest and other park events, people will walk to nearby restaurants and attractions and continue the downtown experience. Also, we hope downtown business people will drift over to Burr Park during the week and have lunch in the park, enjoy a sunny day, or just sit on a bench and daydream!”
“We just hope it gives many years of enjoyment to all the people of Dalton,” his mom said. “Dalton has incredible diversity, and we hope the park will reflect that.”
The Downtown Dalton Summer Music Series, a summer-long series of Friday night concerts, has already been scheduled for Burr Park. The Music Series, which will feature a variety of musical genres, will begin at 7:30 each Friday night from June 8th to August 31st.
“As the saying goes ‘If you build it they will come,’” Jeanne Burr said. “The park now belongs to all of Dalton, and I hope everybody comes to laugh, dream, learn and love.”
The fun starts Saturday at 3:30.
Blog post Written by Pam Partain –
Director Marketing and Communications