Grand Opening Of Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit Held

By Betsy Finklea
The grand opening of the Smithsonian traveling exhibit, “Crossroads: Change In Rural America,” was held on Saturday, May 18th at the Dillon County Courthouse.
Linda Manning Langley, Dillon County Theatre Board president, welcomed everyone to the event. She said she hoped everyone would come out and visit the exhibit because it was “simply wonderful”.
Owen Wallace, a member of the theatre board, gave the invocation.
Johnnie Luehrs, president of the Dillon County Chamber of Commerce and Dillon County Theatre Manager, recognized special guests and the theatre board.
Pat Laird, Grants and Special Projects Coordinator of the Dillon County Theatre Board, introduced Smithsonan and S.C. Humanities special guests. She also recognized the Yellow Jessamine Garden Club and the Dillon Garden Club.
Laird said it had taken about two years to get to where they were today, and it was “well worth it.” She said she hoped people came and visited it
Shannon Sullivan spoke on the stories: yes videos which engaged youth to tell the stories of our area. She said Dillon County had done an “amazing job.” Sullivan said some incredibly important work had been done here. Jan Soper and Ann Marie Martin of Latta Middle School and Liz Herlong of Lake View High School were recognized for their work in getting the videos done.
Donna Borders of Carolina Arts Guild spoke about the art project that the guild sponsored. She said it was a snapshot into rural life. Amanda Burdin, the art teacher at Lake View High School, was recognized. Borders said art is necessary to make our lives more meaningful and enjoyable.
Chief Justice James E. Lockemy gave a brief history of the Dillon County Theatre. He became in possession of the theatre when he and Glenn Greene were trying to purchase the building beside it for a law office and was told they had to buy the theatre also. After talking with Luwanna Stepp and Marcia Chandler one day, he decided he wanted to create a board and give the theatre to the board to create a performing arts center. He went to the Dillon County Council, and they created a board appointing one person per district County Council eventually lost interest, and it became a self-appointing board.
The theatre was revamped, and it opened with its first play in 1989, ‘The Odd Couple.” it will be celebrating 30 years this year of providing a venue for plays, concerts, veterans programs, and other wonderful events. He said they wanted the theatre to be for everyone.

Dr. Ken Robinson, State Scholar of the Smithsonian Institute Traveling exhibit Service, commended Pat Laird and staff for the work they had done. He said the exhibit is comprehensive, inclusive, and informative.
It covers the breadth of rural America. He said it is about much more than the public perception of rural America. He called the exhibit “eye-opening,” and said there is so much one will learn about rural America.
After the ceremony, a ribbon cutting, and tour of the exhibit was held. Members of the Dillon County Theatre Board are Linda Manning Langley, President, Cliff McBride, Vice President, Jan Austin, Secretary, Robin Thompson, Treasurer, Johnnie Luehrs, Theatre Manager, Dorothy Bethea, Alice Braddy, Donna Edwards, Kathy Khalil, Pat Laird, Judge James Lockemy, Eleanor Powers, Ron Rowell, Jackie Thomas, Frances Tyler, and Owen Wallace.
The dates of the exhibit are: Monday- Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Saturday, June 8 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Saturday, June 22 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Photos by Helen Wiggins