May Eason creator of Beautiful Table Setting Facebook Group
There are a variety of reasons local economies get a boost on any given weekend, but few are quiet like what happened in Wetumpka the first weekend of March. Ladies and men from all over the country converged on the town to dish… Literally.
A couple of years ago, Wetumpka resident May Eason created the Beautiful Table Settings Facebook group. She wanted a place that she could display her collections with others… Little did she know in two short years, the group would span the nation with more than 117,000 members.
“I have help moderating this group because it has gotten quite large,” Eason said. “Over time, we have gotten to be friends and we wanted to get together.”
Since Eason lives in Wetumpka it was an obvious choice as the destination, even though some tried to talk her out of it. “There were several that said, why don’t we do it in Atlanta or Birmingham… Why Wetumpka?” Eason said. “Well, I just told them, that I don’t live there. I live here.”
The two-day event attracted more than 400 people to spend the weekend in Wetumpka. The festivities were at the Wetumpka Civic Center and visitors were treated to lunches from local restaurants. “It was important to me to use, the businesses and people of Wetumpka,” Eason said. “I wanted this event here because I knew we could do it right in Wetumpka. If it were somewhere else, who knows what we would have gotten.
For the longest time, I have dreamed of a better future for my hometown. When I drive down Main Street in our historic downtown district, my heart goes pitter patter because I can envision the potential for community, beauty, and a thriving business district. It’s like that gorgeous old house that has layers of paint that are chipping, and bad linoleum covering up hardwood floors. Peel back the layers and you unearth the beauty that has been there all along. It can happen, it is just hard work.
A few years ago, we began seriously working toward revitalization. It can be a painfully slow process, nonetheless it is rewarding. Seeing new businesses open, events take place that bring a community together, and getting to witness long-time, jaded residents get excited again about where they live is worth the time, effort, work, and heart it takes to begin the work.
Just like my hometown, many small towns across Alabama have struggled to grow, have become stagnant, or have declined. Businesses have closed, buildings in downtown districts sit empty, and precious people have moved away. Years ago, NAFTA legislation sent many key businesses, cotton mills and sewing factories in manufacturing towns, to Mexico or overseas. Jobs were lost, people moved away, and many small towns never recovered. By definition, opportunity is “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something” or, “a good chance for advancement or progress.” Isn’t that still true of Alabama’s small towns today? Opportunity still knocks.
Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
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