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Success of performance forecasts more events at Heritage Center

The Rural Heritage Center in Thomaston is venturing into a slightly new direction. With last week’s success in hosting “It’s Perfectly True”, by a touring troupe of volunteer senior performers, the Center will beginning hosting more events and performances throughout the year.

Glen C. Haab, a board member for the Heritage Center, said the Center would be able to move into a position of expanding the type of events they can host there. “We had previously hosted our own productions (Steel Magnolias in 2005 and 2007), but we are now more open into allowing other groups, like The Seasoned Performers, to use the facility for their performances.”

Approximately 70 people attended last Wednesday’s lunch and show. In their 25th touring season, The Seasoned Performers presented the one-act comedy by Alabama playwright Randy Marsh. It was preceded by lunch at Mama Nem’s Bistro, a restaurant that is part of the Center.

“We were ecstatic by the great turnout,” said Marengo County Judge Cindy Neilson, who is also on the Center’s board of directors. “This was the first time for us to host a touring group like this and it went great.”

Bill Richardson of Leed, Alabama built a new stage specifically for the performance. His wife played the leading role in the play and who also directed the Center’s own presentations in 2005 and 2007.

The Seasoned Performers is a senior adult theatre nonprofit organization located in Birmingham, Alabama. The troupe performs its highly entertaining and educational one-act plays and reading programs at schools, retirement facilities, libraries, churches, and community Centers.

“Our goal is to open the Center up for a variety of functions like this one,” said Haab. “The Center is such a great place to host events that will be able to pull people from the entire region. We want to host more events like small plays, education classes and open it up for more private functions and receptions.”

Haab indicated part of the Center’s quest to host more events stems from the collaborated ideas of Center’s 10-member board.

“We recently lost our executive director due to funding cuts, so we began putting our heads as a board and started forming some new plans — some of which we actually had not been willing to try before, but came back and took a second look at – looking out of the box. There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm right now.”

In the past couple of months, the Marengo County 4-H and various school groups have attended etiquette classes by the Bistro’s chef Dodd Orton.

Housed in the former Marengo County High School – the oldest standing high school building in the state – the Alabama Rural Heritage Center displays and sells traditional folk art and crafts made by 107 rural Alabama artisans. It also includes an indoor and outdoor theater, football field converted into a garden, and restaurant.

Haab also said the board plans to better market and promote many of the Center’s traditional offerings. “We want to find stronger ways to market our famous pepper jell,” he said.

The Center is famous for its line of pepper jellies, which is made from produce grown in the Center’s garden and prepared on-site.

Labeled as Mama Nem’s Pepper Jelly, a unique “pepper jelly wall” display case filled with red and green jars of their signature product welcomes visitors into the gift shop.

“We recently lost our executive director due to funding cuts, so we began putting our heads as a board and started forming some new plans — some of which we actually had not been willing to try before, but came back and took a second look at – looking out of the box. There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”

The Center is famous for its line of pepper jellies, which is made from produce grown in the Center’s garden.

Recently, the Marengo County 4-H and various school groups have attended etiquette classes by the Bistro’s chef Dodd Orton.