Fort McAllister Historic Park recently won the statewide award for best programming and interpretation at a State Historic Site.
Manager Daniel Brown accepted the annual award on behalf of all the staff and volunteers at Fort McAllister State Historic Park during a manager’s conference in Helen, at the end of January.
There were 18 sites vying for the award.
"I didn’t really even aim to win it this year. It was a very big surprise," Brown said. "The staff was also surprised; it’s because of them and the volunteers that we won it."
Fort McAllister has seven staff members, as well as a number of volunteers that vary depending on events.
Brown said this past year’s Winter Muster brought in about 125 volunteers to put on a Civil War reenactment.
Frankie Mewborn, Historic Sites Regional Manager who selected the park as the winner, said there are a number of things that come into play when a historic site is selected.
"You look at the quality and uniqueness of the programs, as well as the number of participants – not only of attendees but also the people involved in putting on a program," Mewborn said. "He has an excellent volunteer group that really comes out and helps him with so many things. When you step in at Fort McAllister, you really step back in time. It’s quite an experience. So those are the types of things go into play when you’re looking at who did the best job. He really knows how to put on a good program."
Mewborn said they also look at how a site handles the day-to-day visitors, noting Fort McAllister stood out in this category, too.
"They handle the individual visitor or family who comes in, and that’s part of programming efforts – going into the museum and having knowledgeable folks who help them," he said. "They’re constantly on the A-list as far as doing these types of things. They have a great staff."
Brown attributes many of their annual programs as things that may have helped the park stand out.
"This past year, we did a program that we’ve been doing for quite a while, called Bunk in the Bunker where we have a group of children come in the park and we turn them into soldiers for two days and they live in the bunker and cook meals," he said. "For our traditional Fourth of July, we did Civil War games and invited the public to participate and we had a really big turnout for that. The Candlelantern Tours this past fall were also well received and then we had the annual Winter Muster and Battle in December."
For 2008, Brown said they’ve already upped the program list to include programs such as land mines throughout the world and Native American survival skills.
Here’s a look at some of the upcoming events at Fort McAllister this spring:
- March 8-9: The U.S. Signal Corps will be on hand with demonstrations of Civil War communications tools. There will be other talks and black powder demonstrations. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
- April 5: Fort McAllister staff hopes everyone in the community will come out for Park Volunteer Day, helping with Spring Cleanup in the park. Tshirts and lunch will be provided, along with a historical talk. 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
- May 24: The Memorial Day Program will include information about the common confederate soldier, such as what he ate, how he lived, what he wore and medicines of the time. There will also be musket and cannon firing demonstrations. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.