Brown’s Mill grand opening celebration Saturday
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Saturday's celebration of the grand opening of Coweta County’s Brown's Mill Battlefield historic site will include calvary re-enactors, canon salutes, on-site historians, food and, hopefully, good weather.
The ceremonial ribbon cutting for the site will be at 9:45 a.m., and the dedication events will follow at 10. Re-enactors and historians will be on site until 2 p.m.
There will be no on-site parking, except for visitors who must use a wheelchair. The strict policy is necessary because the site’s parking lot only has 26 spaces, and there needs to be room for school buses to drop people off and pick them up.
Instead, everyone must park at the Coweta County Fairgrounds on Pine Road and take a shuttle to the site. Anyone using a wheelchair will also have to go to the fairgrounds to pick up their on-site parking permit. Parking, and permit pickup, will be at the grassy lot used for parking at the fair, not the paved parking lot in front of the exhibit building. Other events are going on at the fairgrounds that day, which is why that parking lot needs to be kept clear.
The shuttles will be three school buses and one minibus. The minibus will be for people who "might find getting on and off a school bus difficult," said Sandra Parker, comprehensive planner for Coweta County. The minibus has lower steps and a handrail. There will also be people on-site to help anyone who needs it with getting on and off the bus. There will be golf cart service at the site for those who might have a hard time walking down to the parade ground, where most of the events will be held.
"We certainly want to accommodate everybody," said Parker. "We're going to try really hard to do that and do that in a safe way."
Shuttle service will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the last shuttle will leave the site at 4:40 p.m. Parking will be opened to the public at 5 p.m.
The weather service forecast calls for a chance of rain later in the day Saturday. There's a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, "mainly after 2 p.m.," according to the National Weather Service. The forecast is for partly sunny skies with a high near 86.
There is no rain date for the Brown’s Mill event, and things will go on rain or shine. If there's a torrential downpour, there may be a rain delay.
Saturday's grand opening of the battlefield site is the result of more than 13 years of work, including efforts of county and state officials, volunteers, and even school children.
"I would like to say thank you to all the community folks that supported the development of this project," Parker said. Coweta-Fayette EMC donated street lights and the Brown's Mill Battlefield Association provided fencing.
Back in the 2000-2001 school year, the Environmental Club at Northside Elementary School raised $1,000 to go toward the purchase of the battlefield site by selling t-shirts. The $1,000 went toward the required "match" of the greenspace funds that Coweta County used to buy 105 acres of the battlefield site.
"I'm hoping that somebody who went to Northside and was in the Environmental Club in 2000 and 2001 is going to attend," Parker said. "We want to say 'thank you.'"
Re-enactors providing the historic color guard and salutes include Phillips Legion, Ferrell's Battery, the Fifth and Sixth Georgia, the 10th Confederate State's Rights Volunteers and the Alabama Division, Parker said. They will be representing the Union and Confederate troops who fought the Battle of Brown's Mill on July 30, 1864.
Speakers at the dedication include Dr. David Crass, state historic preservation officer and Civil War scholar and Brown’s Mill battle expert Dr. David Evans.
"We have about 90 folks who are going to be joining in the re-enactment ceremony, dedication of the battlefield and salute to the soldiers who died in that battle," Parker said.
There will be historians along the walking trail that follows the Ricketyback Road roadbed, and they will be available to speak to visitors, Parker said. The re-enactors will be on hand until 2 p.m. to talk to visitors about military life and show off their canon and other equipment. "Because as well as being re-enactors, they are historians," Parker said.
The battlefield site will be open daily. The schedule is 8:30 a.m. to dusk Monday through Saturday and 1:30 p.m. to dusk on Sundays, Parker said.