WNC Fine Arts Center

Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing ArtsGround Breaking Event for the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts - February 25th, 2008

Franklin, NC - This beautiful blue-sky morning, ten shovels, each with a large brown bow tied to the handle, stood straight and in a neat line like soldiers, waiting for their moment that ten individuals would grasp them, posing for the expected photos, toss some dirt, and officially begin the process of bringing a performing arts center to Franklin, North Carolina. You could feel the excitement of what this beginning will mean to our town.

Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing ArtsI have been to a number of ground breaking ceremonies where the turnout has been embarrassingly small. This event was not one of those ceremonies. If I had counted heads, and when you look at the photos you will see, I would guess more than 200 people came to the Fun Factory of the Smokies parking lot to witness the birth of the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts.

Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing ArtsIn the crowd were many local business men and women, community volunteers, and leaders from our town, county, region and state. Congressman Heath Shuler, Senator John Snow, Representatives Phil Haire and Roger West, as well as Macon County Commissioners, Franklin Town Aldermen, and members of various local volunteer organizations, were on hand on this warm, clear, mid-morning to celebrate with Phil and Sharon Drake and Drake Enterprises.

Tim Hubbs, CEO of Drake Enterprises, began the ceremony by introducing Reverend Johnny Lee, who led everyone with prayer. Then Nikki Pons provided entertainment, singing a wonderful Broadway show song. Mr. Hubbs then introduced Phil Drake, President of Drake Enterprises, who provided insight into the goal of the WNC Arts Center to help bring people to Franklin as a destination spot.

Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing ArtsMr. Drake pointed out that for too long travelers have passed through Franklin on their way to somewhere else. He praised WNC business leaders who have worked Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Artsto bring people and their dollars to our region, making WNC an entertainment destination like Pigeon Forge, where visitors come to eat in our restaurants, come to sleep in our hotels and motels, and come to our entertainment centers and stores. He recognized the Smoky Mountain Railroad, and the refurbishing of Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley, as great examples and he hoped that this performing arts center would help bring visitors to Franklin, NC. He also pointed out how important this center would be to not only bring in entertainment, but to let the world know about the talent we have here in WNC. The center Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Artswould also help bring the high school graduation back to Franklin, rather than it being held elsewhere as it is currently.

After the ceremonial shoveling of the dirt, and a group picture of all who came, Mr. Drake invited everyone inside the Boiler Room inside the Fun Factory in the Smokies for a brunch and conversation. Now the hard work begins.

To learn more about the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts visit their website at www.smokymountaincenterfortheperformingarts.com

Photos by Jesse Gibson, and Scott Denmon, both of Premiere Marketing, and Lee Cloer of Dnet Internet Services.