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THE EXCHANGE CLUB OF THOMASVILLE

'Our First Fifty Years"

 

 

The Exchange Club of Thomasville was chartered on October 4,

1946 with thirty—four members at a charter night meeting at Glen Arven Country Club. The charter was presented to the new club by Milton B, Ellis, District Governor, Georgia District No. 3. The charter was accepted by Roscoe G. Fleetwood, president of the newly—formed club. The new club was organized by H. G. Braden of the National Exchange Club. The sponsoring club was the Exchange Club of Talla— hassee and the sponsoring committeemen were Arch Livingston and Henry S. Wrenn of the Tallahassee Club who were in attendance at the meeting.

Our regular meetings have always been held on each Tuesday at 1 PM, no fifth Tuesday meeting. Originally the club meeting place was Glen Arven Country Club, next the luncheon was catered at the YMCA on South Dawson, then we moved to the Plaza Cafe downtown. The next move was to the Scott Hotel, and finally we moved to our meeting room on the Deep South Fairgrounds .

The first community service proj ect of the club was the construction of a cabin at the Scout Camp (Now known as Camp Piney Woods) . This was done in 1948 with the able assist— ance of J. Cortez Wise, a local contractor and president of our club.

The first fund—raising proj ect of the club was the sponsor— ship of the "Turtle Derby", which was held at the National Guard Armory in 1950. The proceeds from this proj ect were used to purchase the first of fourteen "Freedom Shrines" which have been donated to various schools and public buildings throughout our community.

The service proj ects of the club during the first ten years of its existence included the sponsorship of a boy scout troup and the operation of the annual "Sunshine Special", a proj ect of the National Exchange Club, which was held annually at the Thomas County Youth Camp on the Cairo Road and later in conj unction with the annual "Deep South Fair" at the fairgrounds. Other proj ects of the National Exchange

Club, "National Crime Prevention Week" and "National Fire

Prevention Week" were annually observed by our local club.

Notable leaders of our club during these first ten years, included:

Roscoe G. Fleetwood, David G. Hutchings, Allen N. Crawford, Edward R. Langford, Eugene H. Driver, B. Benson Earle, Jr., Joseph C. Muller

P. C. Andrews, Jr., J. Cortez Wise, Harold H. Spangle, Bernard Lanigan, Osco Hughes, David Lipsey, Harry W. Turner, F. Alex Crittenden, Jr.

In 1 957 the leaders of our club decided after several special meetings that our club needed one large fund— raising and service proj ect. After visiting several Exchange Clubs in Georgia that sponsored fairs, it was decided that this was the proj ect we, as a service club, needed. In 1 958 we chartered a new corporation to handle the operation of a fair, to be known as the "Deep South Fair"   The name of the corporation was to be the "Thomasville Exchange Club Agricultural Fair Association, Inc. " The original incorporators were:

It was announced that the first annual "Deep South Fair" would be held at the Thomas County Tobacco Warehouse on September 29, 1 958 thru October 4, 1958. After a very successful first—year fair the location was moved to the National Guard Armory, a location that was to last for three years until the fair association purchased 25 acres of land on the Pavo Road.

When the land was purchased in 1 962 an exhibit building was built and financed by a local bank. Also, the club members in 1 962, under the supervision of a member, T. Reid Prosser, a local contractor, built two livestock buildings and four restrooms , These improvements along with fencing and other improvements were financed through the issuance of debenture bonds and the support from the community was outstanding.

In 1 959 the Thomasville Community Chest established a plan for solicitation of funds based on competition between the local civic and service clubs. A trophy recognizing the club that had the highest percentage of pledges within the time limitation would have its name engraved thereon and would keep the trophy until the following year. After three years of competition the Thomasville Exchange Club won all years: 1959 - 1 00%, 1 960 -   and 1 961 — 100%. The Community Chest agreed that Exchange should keep the trophy permanently

Since 1962 a building was built to house the arts and crafts exhibits and a new office. Also, a new building was built between the two livestock buildings, the dirt floors have been partially covered with concrete and one end of a building has been enclosed for storage.

Successful fairs throughout the years enabled the net income from the fair operations to be used by the Thomasville Exchange Club as a contribution to community—wide charitable organizations. These annual contributions for a number of years amounted to from $7 , 000 to $1 0, 000. In later years the net income from'. the fair has been used to expand the arts and crafts building to include new rest rooms, a full kitchen and a club meeting room. Also, paving of the main entrance and exit roads, new fencing and other improvements have been made .

The annual "Rose Show" sponsored by the Thomasville Garden Clubs, Inc. has been held at the Deep South Fairgrounds for a number of years . In 1 990 the fair association and the Exchange Club members thereof, formed a charitable, non—profit corporation entitled the "Thomasville—Thomas County Rose Show Pavilion, Inc. The incorporators were Ken Wright, Alex Crittenden, Richard Vann and Steve Kennedy. The purpose of the new corporation was to build a multi—purpose building on the fairgrounds to serve as a home for the "Rose Show" and to be used for other meetings and exhibitions . In 1 996 the exhibit building which was built in 1 962 has been renovated to be used for this purpose, including new insulated roof, new walls, insulation, heating and air—conditioning.

Over the years the Exchange Club has, through the Deep South Fair, sponsored western horse shows in the late 1960's and the "Deep South Arts and Crafts Festival" in the 1970's in addition to the annual "Deep South Fair" . Annually the Exchange Club sponsors turkey shoots . The proceeds from this activity benefits the "Quarter—for—Kids" program, which is the preven— tion of child abuse program of the National Exchange Club. The local chairmen for this program were T. H. "Red" Johnson and De Le Scoggins.

Another program of the National Exchange Club is the "Book of Golden Deeds" award. This award has been presented by our Exchange Club to two very deserving individuals: Lawson Neel in 1982 and Dr. J. Roland Clanton in" 1984.

Our club and the fair association has always been interested in undertaking new proj ects for the utilization of the fairgrounds to better serve our community. This year the

Quail Country Festival" was sponsored by the fair association with Club President E. C. Mims as general chairman. This arts and crafts festival was very successful and it is being plan— ned as an annual event on the third week—end in March. The annual 'I Ducks Unlimited" banquet was held on November 21 , 1 996 at our newly renovated exhibit building. In April of 1 997 the" Thomasville Antiques Show" will have its annual event in our new exhibit building and we anticipate that this will be an annual event at the fairgrounds .