FMCA’s next international convention will take place in a town known for its proximity to a number of great Southern attractions.
FMCA members will find an ample supply of Southern hospitality and charm in Perry, Georgia. From the unusual, quaint shops of the downtown district to the hustle and bustle of the state-of-the-art Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, FMCA members are sure to experience enjoyable moments during their visit.
Perry is promoted as the “Crossroads of Georgia” because of its advantageous location just off Interstate 75, approximately 25 miles south of Macon. Nestled in the heart of the state, Perry is strategically located where three major state and federal highways intersect.
The Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, where FMCA members will meet for the association’s 73rd international convention March 21, 22, 23, and 24, 2005, was built by the state of Georgia in the late 1980s. This multipurpose complex is designed for meetings, trade shows, livestock events, horse shows, fairs, RV rallies, concerts, sporting events, and more. The 1,130-acre facility is beautifully landscaped with fountains, lakes, and gardens. It hosts the Georgia State Fair each October, and more than 260 other events each year. Georgia’s agribusiness, agriculture, and youth are promoted through competitions, exhibits, and shows, as well as cultural and educational events.
This will be the fourth time FMCA has held a convention at the Agricenter. The first took place in 1996, and subsequent gatherings occurred there in 1999 and 2002. The 2005 convention theme, “America On The Move,” fits with Perry’s designation as an intersection of roads used by travelers headed throughout the United States.
The Perry story
Perry is the seat of Houston (pronounced “Howston”) County and was originally called Wattsville. Founded in 1821 through a treaty with the Creek Indians, the county once extended from the Ocmulgee River on the east to the Flint River on the west. Perry was incorporated in 1824, taking its name from Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who was known for his triumph at Lake Erie in the War of 1812. Settlers chose Perry because of its location along Big Indian Creek, its fertile soil, and its favorable climate.
Speaking of weather, the average high temperature for this area between January and March is 67 degrees, and the average low temperature for that time frame is 39 degrees.
Travelers continue to make Perry one of their favorite destinations to stop, shop, eat, and relax. Perry is proud to boast many of its own attractions. In the heart of downtown is the New Perry Hotel, originally built as the Cox’s Inn in the 1850s as a stagecoach stop. The current building was erected in 1925 and recently was named a Georgia historical site. Locals and visitors alike enjoy visiting the hotel for its traditional Southern cuisine and elegant but relaxed atmosphere.
While visiting Perry, be sure to take a self-guided walking or driving tour of the town’s historical homes and buildings. The tour begins at the New Perry Hotel. With more than 50 sites, this tour uses local architecture to unfold the pages of history right before your eyes. Maps are available from the Perry Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
FMCAers who are in town for the “America On The Move” convention can enjoy many fabulous day trips to other Georgia sites. Following are a few options.
Massee Lane Gardens, 12 miles from Perry
Visit the home of the American Camellia Society and location of the world’s largest collection of Boehm porcelain. Acres of camellias, azaleas, and roses (in season) will awake the senses. Daffodils and flowering trees add to the beauty in spring. A quiet, peaceful Japanese garden snuggled between the gravel paths also awaits.
Camellias’ peak bloom season is November through March, and the gardens feature nine acres of them. The entire month of February is dedicated to the “Festival of Camellias.”
Massee Lane Gardens is open Tuesday through Sunday and is located at 100 Massee Lane in Fort Valley; call (478) 967-2358 or visit www.camellias-acs.com for more information.
Andersonville National Historic Site, 32 miles from Perry
A Civil War prison that held Union soldiers once stood at this location. Of the 45,000 Union soldiers confined at this site, almost 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, or exposure to the elements.
Andersonville, or Camp Sumter as it was officially known, also includes a national cemetery and the National Prisoner of War Museum, which opened in 1998. The museum helps visitors to experience all the feelings and emotions that a prisoner of war experiences, from capture to release, and relays the stories of prisoners in wars since the American Revolution.
Andersonville National Historic Site is located at 496 Cemetery Road in Andersonville and is open daily. Phone (229) 924-0343 or visit www.nps.gov/ande for more information.
Museum of Aviation, 11 miles from Perry
More than 90 aircraft and missiles, spanning from the earliest attempts at flight to the amazing SR-71 Blackbird, are on display both indoors and outdoors on the museum’s 51-acre site. Visitors will see exhibits dedicated to the Korean War; the pilots who flew “the Hump” during World War II; the Tuskegee Airmen; the 14th Air Force; and much more.
The “We The People” Theater features audiovisual presentations twice an hour, and American Indian artifacts are housed in a walk-through museum.
The Museum of Aviation is located in Warner Robins at the intersection of Russell Parkway and State Route 247. It’s open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and admission is free. Phone (478) 926-6870 or visit www.museumofaviation.org.
Peach orchards and packing sheds
The FMCA convention doesn’t coincide with the picking or packing of Georgia’s peach crop (May through late August), but RVers still can enjoy the lovely pink blossoms that make a March drive through Middle Georgia a sight to remember.
The Lane Packing Company in nearby Fort Valley operates the Just Peachy Gift Shop, which is open year-round and is stocked with Georgia-related merchandise, including cookbooks and Southern-style gifts. The farm also sells merchandise via a catalog (regular and online), offering gift baskets, candies, gourmet foods, pecans, and more. For more information, phone (800) 277-3224 or visit www.lanepacking.com.
Macon’s mansions, museums, and cherry blossoms, 25 miles from Perry
Macon offers beautiful, historical mansions; the Tubman African American Museum; the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame; the Georgia Music Hall of Fame; and the Macon Museum of Arts & Sciences.
Macon’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival will be in full bloom during the FMCA convention. This year the festival runs from March 18 to 27. For more information, visit www.cherryblossom.com or call (478) 751-7429.
For more information about all of Macon’s attractions, contact the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 768-3401 or visit www.maconga.org.
Plains and Americus, 45 miles from Perry
Home of America’s 39th President, Jimmy Carter, Plains honors him with the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site. The site consists of three parts: a museum in Plains High School; a museum in the Plains Depot, which served as the 1976 Carter presidential campaign headquarters; and Jimmy Carter’s farm museum. All three facilities are open year-round, and admission is free for each. Phone (229) 824-4104 for more information or visit www.nps.gov/jica.
The town of Plains offers antiques shops for perusal, and when the former president is in town, he teaches Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church. The public is invited.
In nearby Americus the Global Village & Discovery Center illustrates the work and mission of Habitat for Humanity International. Located next door to Habitat headquarters, the Global Village includes a mock slum and also shows examples of housing alternatives as they appear in countries throughout the world. Habitat for Humanity International uses this “theme park” of housing to demonstrate how its mission to provide decent low-cost housing is being carried out around the world. A small fee of $5 for adults and $4 for seniors is charged for admission to the Global Village. Phone (866) 924-5823 or visit www.habitat.org/gvdc for more information.
Motorhome factory tour, 11 miles from Perry
FMCA members can see how Blue Bird Wanderlodge motorhomes are built by taking a plant tour during the Perry convention. Wanderlodge coaches are constructed at Blue Bird Coachworks, located a few miles away from Perry in Fort Valley. Factory tours will be offered at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. For more information, phone (478) 822-2400.
Perry visitors will want to take time to enjoy the Southern hospitality, the cuisine, the peaches, and the peanuts “” and perhaps, to sample some of the true Southern heritage and rich history that make exploring the “Crossroads of Georgia” an unforgettable experience.
For more information about Perry area attractions, contact:
Perry Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
P.O. Box 1609
101 General Courtney Hodges Blvd.
Perry, GA 31069
For statewide information, contact:
Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism
P.O. Box 1776
Atlanta, GA 30301-1776
The following list is not complete, so please consult your favorite campground directory or FMCA’s Business Directory, published in the January and June issues of Family Motor Coaching and online at www.fmca.com, for additional listings.
Boland’s Perry Overnight RV Park
800 Perimeter Road
Perry, GA 31069
Crossroads Travel Park, C7356
1513 Sam Nunn Blvd.
Perry, GA 31069
Fair Harbor RV Park & Campground, F8283
515 Marshallville Road
Perry, GA 31069
Perry Ponderosa Park
P.O. Box 109
Perry, GA 31069
Southern Trails RV Resort, C9264
2690 Arena Road
Unadilla, GA 31091
Twin Oaks RV Park & Campground
305 Highway 26 E.
Elko, GA 31025
- Georgia had four capital cities before Atlanta: Savannah (1733-1786), Augusta (1786-1795), Louisville (1796-1806), and Milledgeville (1807-1868).
- The state song is “Georgia On My Mind.”
- Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River.
- Georgia is among the United States’ top producers of peaches, pecans, and peanuts.
- The average state high temperature is 55 degrees in winter and 90 degrees in summer. Rainfall averages 50 inches each year.
- Georgia has the only double-barreled cannon in the world. It was built during the Civil War and is located in Athens.
- Athens also is home to the “tree that owns itself.” It was bequeathed by its owner to itself in 1932 and is still growing tall.
- Marietta is the roosting site of the Big Chicken, a 56-foot-tall steel bird with rotating eyes and a beak that opens and shuts. It originally was built to call attention to a local eatery and now marks the site of a KFC.
- The “grinning goober,” a 13-foot-tall peanut, sports the smile of Plains native Jimmy Carter. It was made during the 1976 presidential campaign and now stands near a shop in Plains.
- The world’s largest apple monument is in the town of Cornelia. It was erected in 1926 to honor the local apple crop.
- Dawsonville has the largest collection of kangaroos outside Australia at its Kangaroo Conservation Center.
- Cleveland, Georgia, is the birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, and its Babyland General Hospital is open daily.
Famous Native Georgians
- Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts in the United States
- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leader
- Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With The Wind
- Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States
- Alan Jackson, country music star
- Jackie Robinson, first African-American to play professional baseball
- Johnny Mercer, singer, actor, and lyricist of such songs as “Moon River,” “Autumn Leaves,” and “Come Rain or Come Shine”