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New era for Summers Field opens Monday

By Rachel McDaniel Summers Field has seen generations of families having fun at all sorts of events for more than 100 years and will host a grand reopening Monday, Aug. 17 at 10:30 a.m. after extensive changes to the park. ’Summers Field is one of Barnesville’s oldest and most valuable civic resources. For 104 years now, the people of Barnesville have gathered at Summers Field to partake, to compete and to socialize. Summers Field is our assembly point, our gathering place, our home field,’ said Barnesville mayor Peter Banks. ‘Perhaps more than any other public facility in Barnesville, Summers Field has truly served the people of this community well. Soon we will begin a new era in the illustrious history of the park. Once again, to take its place as an icon of community pride that will be enjoyed by generations to come.’ Summers Field now features paved walking trails, a waterfall feature with a man-made creek bed, beautiful landscaping, an open field for recreation and a pavilion that can be rented for parties. Originally called the Barnesville Circus Grounds, the area was used for large events, including the Young Buffalo Wild West Wonder Show held in 1911 which featured celebrity of the day Annie Oakley. Thousands attended the show and others like it throughout the years. In 1912, the city of Barnesville purchased the property for $1,200 and named it after George L. Summers, a former mayor and fire chief in Barnesville who donated $500 to develop the site. Other prominent citizens donated portions of adjacent properties ‘to insure abundant space for driveways and parking.’ In the early 1900s, Summers Field was a site for fairs, circuses, traveling shows, July 4 festivities and it became a central location for athletic events as well as a drill grounds for Gordon cadets. A racetrack was even added to Summers Field in 1914. In April of 1913, the Gordon baseball team played several exhibition games against Ty Cobb and his fellow baseball players. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ‘threw the switch’ during an August 1938 speech at Summers Field to symbolically electrify rural America. A historical marker was placed in October 2009 to commemorate his visit. Gordon Military College used the field for cadet drills and athletic activities until 1972 when the University of Georgia system purchased Gordon and the campus – including Summers Field – from the city of Barnesville. The property switched hands many times over the next several decades but eventually was deeded back to Barnesville – and always maintained the name Summers Field. The park has hosted Barnesville Buggy Days events since it began in 1974. Summers Field is slated to host many more years of Buggy Days and community events. Citizens can rent the Summers Field pavilion by filling out an application at City Hall.

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