Tourism grants help bring back life to local traditions

Published 8:30 am Friday, September 1, 2023

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The cities of Lanett and Valley are the recipient of several Alabama Department of Tourism Legislative Grants, according to announcement from the Chambers County Development Authority.

Thanks to a partnership with Alabama Representative Debbie Wood and the Chambers County Development Authority, Valley and Lanett received grants for the annual Merry-Go-Round, Juneteenth celebration and the Lanett Municipal Airport open house.

Valley received three grants totaling $7,800 for the annual Christmas Merry-Go-Round. 

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“People come from all over to ride the Merry-Go-Round. It’s amazing,” Wood said. 

Wood said the Merry-Go-Round helps draw in business as tourists stop for gas or food during their visit.

The event, which began in 1956 with West Point Pepperell, has been taken up by the city. The total cost of hosting the Christmas Merry-Go-Round is $60,000 this year, according to Valley Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Blount. The city receives donations from the community for the Merry-Go-Round as well.

“We just really appreciate getting the grant,” Blount said. “It just helps us a lot.”

The city of Lanett received $2,600 for the Greater Valley Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom. Lanett was also awarded $2,600 to the second Lanett Municipal Airport Annual Community Fly In. The open house will feature displays, flight exhibitions, children’s activities and food. 

“I think that it’s important for us to not forget that all politics are really local,” Wood said. “So when the state partners with local entities so that they provide community activities, it’s a win for everyone because we need to work hand in hand to ensure that citizens in Alabama, that really keep our economy going strong, are happy.”

The Department of Tourism Legislative Grants began as a response to the drop in tourism that many Alabama cities saw during the COVID-19 pandemic. State legislators were given yearly grants that they could use to help their communities get back to congregating and inviting guests to the city, Wood said. 

“It’s really a push to get communities to open back up again,” Wood said. 

Wood thanked the Chambers County Development Authority for their help in securing the funds for the cities. She said the cooperation between state representatives, municipalities and the development authority has had a positive impact on the community.

“It’s been a great partnership,” Wood said.