-by Mary Nita Bondurant-
Fall is here, and it’s off to the races at Discovery Park of America in Union City! According to Event Director Lauren Jones, Discovery Park might just be the event capital of the world; or at least of Northwest, Tennessee! “We have something planned for everyone during the fourth quarter of this year,” Jones said. Being the Event Director forDiscovery Park means long hours and busy days, but Jones says she loves it. “I certainly don’t do everything myself,” she said. “We have a great team at Discovery Park, and some of our events require all-hands-on-deck.” Sometimes you’ll even see Jones with her baby Tucker Finn on her hip as she makes sure all the details are in place before a Discovery Park Event. Jones was excited to talk about all the upcoming events at the park.
Pumpkin Village, part of the park’s partnership with McDonald’s, opens October 1. Grounds Director John Watkins and his crew are responsible for creating the annual month-long McDonald’s Pumpkin Village, and this year’s display promises to be a masterpiece. The display will be located behind the Train Depot. Visiting Pumpkin Village is a great way to get in the fall spirit throughout the month of October.
For those who like to multi-task, wait until October 8, opening day for Jurassic Journeys, a remarkable traveling exhibit. As you might guess, it features dinosaurs that really move and make all kinds of interesting sounds. Jones says kids are going to love this exhibit. She is busy planning a VIP dinner on October 6 for anyone who would like a sneak peek. Tickets for the dinner are $25 each, and guests will enjoy honey mustard chicken, green beans wrapped in
bacon, mashed potatoes with toppings, side salad and an assortment of desserts. The opportunity to see the exhibit first hand will give locals something to roar about for months.
Also on October 8, Jones has organized Beer, Blues and Brats on the great lawn. “The local Budweiser Distributor is bringing 40 different varieties of craft beer for tasting,” Jones said. In addition, the regional Home Brewers Association will be set up with great home-brews for tasting. There is no charge to come to “Beer, Blues and Brats,” according to Jones. “We just hope folks will come hungry and buy a brat while they are here.”
Jones loves coming up with new ideas and bringing new and fun events to the park. “I’m super excited about the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater that we are having on October 27,” Jones said. It is a partnership with the Badgett Playhouse in Grand Rivers and will be a first for the park. Earlier this year, Jones coordinated the showing of Smoke on the Mountain in the Chapel at the park, and it was a huge success, selling out weeks prior to the event. “Anyone who loves a murder mystery needs to get tickets ASAP, as we expect another sell-out,” Jones added.
Combine all the above with live music every Thursday night in October at Libation Station (the train bar) and a Halloween Costume Contest on October 29 (kids in costume enjoy half-price admission).
“We’ll spend most of November getting the park ready for a festive December,” Jones said. In addition to the Let it Glow
Light Show which has added thousands of lights, brighter and more twinkly than last year, the park will have Polar Express on the trains every Sunday afternoon until Christmas. Santa will be in Discovery Hall each Saturday. “I’m booking parties, planning the New Year’s Eve galas (one for kids and one for adults), renting space and coordinating choruses throughout December,” Jones said. “My family will be lucky if I get to go shopping.”
Following Jones around can be exhausting, but enjoying all the fun things she has planned is a benefit to folks in Obion County. “I get most excited when it is time for an event and the crowd arrives and everyone has a good time,” Jones said with a smile. “That is the most rewarding part of my job.” It’s easy to tell that Jones has found her niche at Discovery Park of America. “I am grateful and feel blessed to work at such an awesome place with truly wonderful people,” she said. And, if you can keep up with her, you can tell that she is the right one for the job.
Discovery Park of America is located at 830 Everett Blvd. in Union City, TN. You can find out more about the park and upcoming events by visiting the website at www.discoveryparkofamerica.com.