Chinese Diplomat Goes Touring
Ambassador sees Madison in May
By Kathryn Purcell
Arriving inconspicuously in a white BMW, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Zhou Wenzhong, joined by an entourage that included his wife, Madame Xie, and an assistant, set foot on the grounds of the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center Saturday afternoon.
To participate in the annual Madison in May Tour of Homes and Gardens, of course.
"He was an honored guest at The State Botanical Garden of Georgia on Saturday evening, at the Gardens of the World Ball," Tour of Homes co-chair, and Zhou's tour guide, Chris Lambert said. "The chairman of that ball is Mrs. Sam Nunn, and she invited them to come. Mrs. Nunn is a friend of mine. She called and said she thought they should see Madison. I said, 'Girl, are you in luck! We have a Tour of Homes then, and I'd be glad to take them.'"
Despite only being able to see the Cultural Center and three of the houses on the Tour, the ambassador seemed quite impressed by the pristine quality of the houses as well as the orderliness of the community.
"They enjoyed seeing especially how lush and green and clean everything was in town, enjoyed seeing three very different houses, enjoyed meeting the homeowners," Lambert said.
Further, according to Lambert, Zhou and his party were quite inquisitive not only about the houses they were touring, but about the Madison and Morgan County community in general.
"They had been to Atlanta before, but never out in the state, and I think they were very appreciative," Lambert said. "They asked interesting questions about the community, industry here, how people make a living. They were interested."
More than the Chinese ambassador, this year's Madison in May Tour of Homes and Gardens saw quite a few international visitors, not to mention visitors from around the country.
"We had people from the Netherlands, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado," Cultural Center Marketing Director Patricia DuBose said. "People came from everywhere. It was amazing."
Just under 1,300 people participated in the Tour, co-chaired by Lambert and Emmie Smock, and the Cultural Center raised roughly $25,500 before expenses.
Like the Chinese ambassador, all of the participants seemed to take note of the caliber of houses on the Tour.
"They commented on the consistent quality of the homes," DuBose said. "The one we heard the most about was Tobias Farm, I think because of its setting, the age of the house."
Overall, those involved with the Tour feel that it made an impression on visitors, and are considering it a success.
"Everybody seemed so happy; I've never seen a happier bunch of tourists go on Tour before," Cultural Center Membership and Special Events Director Elsie Monk said. "I think we're going to have some repeat customers...The response from Tour-goers was unbelievable, and I've been doing this 11 years."