Despite the weather, the 30th anniversary celebration of the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame held on Saturday, August 26 was a success. When the planning of the celebration began the decision was made to remember the past, celebrate the future and honor the individuals that made it all happen. All of these things were accomplished.
Rep. Jack McFarland opened the ceremony by welcoming an audience of over 100 people in attendance. Rep. McFarland remembered the first board members of the Louisiana Political Museum. They were George Harrel, John Lutes Jewel Johnson, George Harrison and Patricia Harrison. Mrs. Patricia Harrison attended the event and was recognized. Rep. McFarland then introduced Bro. Joel Carter of the First United Methodist Church of Winnfield who gave the invocation.
The first speaker of the evening was current museum board member, Gregg Davies. Davies gave the history of how the depot building that houses the museum was obtained by the City of Winnfield. He shared the story of how former State Rep. Mike Tinnerello acquired the building from the Louisiana & Arkansas Railroad Company for $1.00, with the stipulation that it be moved to a different site as well as many more stories pertaining to the renovations that the building needed and how volunteers pooled their talents and resources to make it happen.
George Wyatt honored the life and works of former mayor Max Kelley with stories of Mayor Kelley’s vision for the museum. It was his vision and compassion for Winnfield that created the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame. Mayor Kelley’s wife, Mrs. Becky Kelley was presented with an arm bouquet of flowers.
Former mayor, Deano Thornton who serves as a board member for the museum surprised Mrs. Carolyn Phillips by honoring her times as a volunteer and as the first Executive Director of the Museum. Mrs. Phillips served 29 years as the executive director before retiring. Mrs. Phillips was given gifts including a City of Winnfield watch, which was a gift from the museum board to thank her for her years of service.
Mrs. Carolyn Phillips then shared her memories of her years at the museum. She spoke about the trials and tribulations of getting the museum renovated and how George Harrel and the donations received from Harrel Builders played a significant part in accomplishing the renovations. Mrs. Phillips shared more memories of volunteers that were essential to the museum’s success.
Guests in attendance enjoyed the program and delicious food prepared by current volunteers Linda & Mike Smith, Jessica Gray, Pat Thurman, Rita James, and museum staff Jennifer Loftin and Shonna Moss. The food was served by several wonderful 4-H Club Members. Guests also toured the museum where they viewed a special tribute display to the former mayor of Winnfield, Max Kelley and two new interactive displays that were created by Brentin Chandler of DbM Computers in Winnfield.
The museum board and staff thanked all the volunteers who helped to make this event such a special occasion.