200 Alabama Bicentennial

Celebrating Alabama’s 200th birthday2017 2018 2019

Join the party and celebrate the history

City of Athens commemorating its 200th birthday with Athens Bicentennial Bash

For 200 years, the City of Athens has stood strong, etched in limestone and rooted in Alabama clay, and she is ready to celebrate that steadfastness with birthday party.

And everyone is invited.


The city officially turns 200 on Nov. 19, 2018, which is a Monday, so city officials are throwing the party on Nov. 17, 2018, during Christmas Open House weekend.


“The response from the community has been overwhelming,” said Athens Bicentennial Bash Committee Chair Holly Hollman. “We have a day of events planned from a historic scavenger hunt to a joint kick-off ceremony with party goers from across the pond.”


Hollman said Athens is collaborating with Stonehaven, Scotland, for the two to be Sister Cities. Athens State University Religious Studies Professor Debra Baird is overseeing the Sister City project with Phil Mills-Bishop, who leads the Stonehaven Twinning Group, and Richard Holman-Baird, chieftain to Clan Baird and co-chair of the twinning group.


“They want to help us celebrate and are hosting a 200th birthday party for Athens at Castle Fraser,” Hollman said. “They plan to fly the American and Alabama flags from the castle turrets along with the Scottish flags, and castle staff are preparing a birthday cake to be cut as our Scottish friends sing ‘Happy Birthday.’”


Hollman said she is working with WOW! to Skype the kick-off ceremony with the Scottish group. WOW! is the presenting sponsor of the bash.


“In Scotland they will have a screen so they can see our celebration, and we hope to get a TV screen so we can see their celebration,” she said.


The kick off ceremony will be at noon on the Courthouse steps on Marion Street. The Boy Scouts will present the colors, Girl Scout Johana Slinkard will sing the National Anthem, and the Athens High School Marching Band will play a medley of songs written by Athens-area natives as well as perform “Happy Birthday.”


As part of the celebration, the committee is honoring a 1920s-era tradition for downtown known as Trade Days. Dealers Auto Auction owner Roger Fields donated a Kia Rio to Athens Main Street to give away. During one 1920s event, a vehicle was given away, and a photographer captured a black and white image of hundreds of people on The Square.


“We appreciate Dealers Auto supporting our event by donating a vehicle to Athens Main Street to give away,” Mayor Ronnie Marks said. “This would be a good car especially for a student driver or someone going to college.”


The Kia Rio is a 2009 model with 135,000 miles. Fields got the Kia Rio from a relative who drove it to school because he said he knew the car is reliable and well maintained. He said if he sold it from the lot the price would be $5,000.


All who can be on Marion Street at 2 p.m. are invited to be part of the Trade Day photo. Photographer Randall Peek will capture the moment using a drone camera. An Athens Trivia Contest for the car will follow at 3 p.m.


Hollman said the day of festivities also includes an art exhibit. The Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission is sponsoring a public reception at High Cotton Arts for the Art As Our Narrative bicentennial exhibit. The exhibit is an Alabama Bicentennial Commission authorized event. The reception will be from 3-5 p.m., but the exhibit is open to the public Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10-2, and Fridays and Saturdays from 10-4 through the end of December.


“We have some fascinating entries,” said Hollman, who also serves on the Athens Arts League Board that oversees High Cotton Arts.


Among the exhibit entries are:

  • “Southern Autumn”, an Alabama 1989 Reunion authorized and numbered print that is for sale.
  • Limestone County bicentennial clay vase and City of Athens bicentennial clay platter, both for sale and handmade by Emily Cole. The artist will not produce any more, so these are one-of-a-kind treasurers.
  • Bicentennial quilts made by the Friendship Quilters Guild to represent iconic and historic places in Athens and Limestone County.
  • Framed French-themed wallpaper uncovered during the renovation of the 1938 Scout House. These are for sale.
  • A United States bicentennial quilt made by the second grade class of Julian Newman Elementary in 1976. The quilt was found by the mother-in-law of Roy Patton’s sister in a consignment shop in Nashville. She saw Patton’s name, got the quilt and gave it to him.
  • Athens City Schools student artwork that captures the people and places of our community, including Whitt’s, Dub’s Burgers, the Courthouse, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, musician Anderson East and Gary Redus, a former professional baseball player.
  • A stained glass piece with symbols for Athens, Limestone County and Alabama.


Artist Jane Blevins created an oil on canvas with a stunning sunset over open land. She named it “The Beginning.”


“It represents the open horizons Athens and Limestone County founders saw when they came here, as well as the foresight they had to foresee what the future could hold on this vast openness,” she said.


That vast openness gave birth to farms and cotton fields, a downtown square, the railroad and eventually, 200 years of Classic. Southern. Character.



Athens Bicentennial Bash Events

Nov. 17, 2018, Downtown Athens


10 a.m. - Athens High School Historic Scavenger Hunt. Meet at the bicentennial mural students created on Market Street down from Wildwood Deli. You will receive clues as to your historic destinations from students who will be set up at the various sites.


10 a.m. to 7 p.m. - The celebration will feature a display of quilts in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church on Jefferson. Baked goods and handcrafted items will be available in the Rogers Center. A special display of vintage quilts will be featured from local Athens quilters.


10 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Houston Memorial Library Open House. See the recent renovations to Gov. Houston’s home and learn about restoration efforts.


11 a.m. to 3 p.m. - Enter the Athens Trivia Contest for the Dealers Auto Auction Car; the first 200 who register will receive bicentennial shopping totes sponsored by WOW! Get trivia tidbits ahead of time by following “City of Athens, Alabama, Bicentennial” on Facebook.


Noon - Kick off ceremonies with the Boy Scouts, National Anthem by Johana Slinkard, and a performance by the Athens High School Marching Band.


1 p.m. to 5 p.m. - Donnell House Festival of Trees ($5 fee). See decorated trees placed throughout this historic home.


1:30 p.m. - Best Beard for Men and Best Hat for Ladies Contest hosted by the Friends of the Limestone County Archives. The winner in each category will receive $100.


2 p.m. - Trade Day photo on Marion Street.


3 p.m. – Athens Trivia Contest for the Dealers Auto Auction car. Five tickets will be drawn. Must be present to compete and win the car.


3-5 p.m. - Art As Our Narrative bicentennial exhibit reception at High Cotton Arts. Kay Burlingame will serve as host in period dress and provide light refreshments.


All day – Throughout the day enjoy the Greater Limestone County Chamber’s Christmas Open House festivities such as carolers, the skating rink on Marion Street, Santa Claus photos, Merry Market and bicentennial vendors, the Lions Club Christmas Train, and a nighttime light show at the Courthouse. Also, check out the bicentennial themed Christmas windows decorated by downtown merchants.


Athens Bicentennial Bash Presenting Sponsor



Other Sponsors

Dealers Auto Auction

City of Athens

Alabama Bicentennial Commission

Rep. Danny Crawford