News Staff Report
Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce is soliciting input from the community on whether the city’s annual Williams Station Day celebration should be moved downtown this year, or if it should remain in its current location on Pensacola Avenue.
“As you may have already heard through the grapevine, there is talk of relocating WSD to Downtown Atmore — its original location,” Chamber Executive Director Emily Wilson posted on the Chamber’s website. “With such a community-involved festival, our board of directors only felt it right to extend the decision to the community.”
Each year, on the last Saturday in October, Atmore steps back in time to 1866, when the community — just a small supply stop along the Mobile and Great Northern railroad lines — was called Williams Station. Each year Atmore celebrates this rich heritage, expressing the importance of the railroad and its impact on the community. The carnival-like atmosphere is enhanced through the offerings of numerous vendors and the talents of musicians, artists and craftsmen.
This year’s Williams Station Day observance is set for Saturday, October 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Where it will be held remains up in the air.
Wilson said the possibility of returning the one-day festival to downtown could be a way to bring new life to the event.
“Last year many leaders, business owners and community members expressed desire to see Williams Station Day revitalized to its vibrant state of years past,” she said. “This festival is an ideal way to showcase the amazing energy … of what a small rural community can do when it decides to awaken from years of sleepy existence and again be full of potential, energy and promise of a better tomorrow.”
But the Chamber’s executive director also noted that last year’s celebration was one of the most successful in recent memory.
“In 2018 the Chamber reviewed the possibility of relocating Williams Station Day to downtown in an effort to support our mission, vision and values while recognizing and respecting the request to see the festival revitalized,” she said. “Though ultimately the decision was made that a move in 2018 was not in the best interest of the event at the time, Williams Station Day was a tremendous success, with more vendors and community participation than many could remember in recent years.”
Wilson pointed out that several factors have to be considered in making such a move. Among those are public safety, accessibility to the event, how festive an atmosphere each would create and, most importantly, the people who live within the community.
Chamber officials are currently conducting an online survey of local residents to help decide where to stage this year’s celebration. The survey will end at 5 p.m. this Friday, June 7. To see some of the pros and cons of each proposed site, and to cast your vote, visit www.atmorechamber.com or visit the Chamber’s Facebook page.
When the survey is closed, details will be provided to the Chamber’s board for consideration and review, with “a final placement for Williams Station Day 2019 being released by close of business on Monday, June 10.”