By Curt Yeomans
More visitors to Clayton County are taking lunch and dinner tours at Stately Oaks Plantation this month, according to officials from Historical Jonesboro.
In a typical month, docents would be called on to guide about one dinner or lunch tour per month, but 12 tours have been scheduled for this month, said Carol Cook, Historical Jonesboro's secretary.
In addition to those tours, the plantation will host several other events this month, including Historical Jonesboro's second annual Stately Oaks Yard Sale Saturday, and the 27th annual Native American Festival on April 25.
"Normally, if we had one [lunch or dinner tour], we were doing really good," Cook said. "But, we've been doing a lot of marketing, and the [Jonesboro] visitors center has done some marketing on our behalf as well. We're very pleased with the amount of people coming to Stately Oaks right now."
Proceeds from the yard sale will help purchase linen tablecloths and napkins for use during the dinner and lunch tours. During the tours, visitors eat a meal in the old school house, and re-enactors then divide their guests into small groups for tours around the property.
Cook, the yard sale organizer, said Historical Jonesboro has enough linens to accommodate a group of 56 guests for a dinner or lunch tour, but those linens get worn out after a few uses. The increased number of tours is leaving Historical Jonesboro volunteers with little time to clean the linens between tours. After guests finished eating at a dinner tour Thursday, Cook gathered up all of the linens and rushed home. She had to clean them and have them back by noon today for a lunch tour.
Historical Jonesboro President Barbara Emert said Stately Oaks gives Clayton County an opportunity to showcase itself to a world audience. "People come here from all over the place," Emert said. "It never ceases to amaze me ... I'll go in somedays and ask if we had any visitors, and they'll [Stately Oaks volunteers] say 'Oh we had a couple from Canada, a few from Germany, and some from Israel.'"
Cook said Historical Jonesboro does not make any money from the items sold at the yard sale, but money is raised through the renting of tables to residents for the purpose of selling their items. She said 12 people have already signed up to sell items ranging from baked good and crafts, to old clothing.
Local residents, who want to sell items at the yard sale, can still contact Historical Jonesboro at the plantation. There is a $10 fee to rent a table, Cook said. Set-up for the yard sale will begin at 7:30 a.m., and the sale will last from 8 a.m., to 2 p.m.
While the linens purchased with proceeds from the yard sale will help Historical Jonesboro keep up with the demand for dinner and lunch tours, the Native American Festival will be an opportunity for local residents to learn about the area's earliest settlers.
Local historian and storyteller, Ted Key, the festival's organizer, said the event is an opportunity for area residents to learn how Native Americans lived. Local descendants of Native Americans will give presentations, perform music and dances.
Key said it is interactive, so the visitors get to experience a Native American's way of life. "You get to cook food on a hot rock, and when they dance, you get to dance with them," he said.
The Native American Festival will last from 10 a.m., to 5 p.m., on April 25. The price of admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $2 for children. Area Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, who attend while wearing their uniforms, will get to enter for $1.
Stately Oaks Plantation is located at 100 Carriage Lane, Jonesboro. For more information about the yard sale, or the Native American Festival, call (770) 473-0197.