By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer
The city of Madison experienced a wave of statewide publicity in the last week, with three separate tourism promotional projects taking place in town. “Our partnership with the state is an integral component of keeping our community on the ‘map’ as a tourist destination,” Ellen Ianelli, director for the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “We are fortunate to have close ties with partners all over the State and within the Southeast and we are grateful for every opportunity that comes our way.” A group of travel writers toured Madison on June 24 to gather inspiration for articles about historical towns to be sold to various travel magazines.
The Historic Heartland, a board comprised of five Georgia communities, spearheaded this project and to have Madison featured as a location. Two members of the State’s team tourism staff and six experienced and vetted writers descended onto Madison to see first hand the surviving history of Madison. According to Ianelli, these writers were hand-picked based on their talent and established careers. “There are many writers who want to have an awesome trip, but the state looks at those who get their articles in the heavy hitting magazine,” explained Ianelli. The theme of the writing project was “Sherman’s March to the Sea,” referring to General William T. Sherman infamous march across the South burning many southern communities during the Civil War.
Sherman spared Madison and it has become historical legend that Madison was the town “too pretty to burn.” “The state brought several travel writers into Madison that were interested in the Civil War because of the 150th year anniversary since Sherman’s passing,” said Ianelli. “ They visited the Cultural Center and its museum where Brad Rice gave them a tour and gave the history of Madison as it relates to the Civil War. And then Melissa Piche of North Georgia Tours took them on a guided tour of downtown Madison and the historic district.” According to Ianelli, the articles written will center around Sherman’s March and those stories will be sold to various magazines. On June 25, the Georgia State photographer, Ralph Daniel, came to Madison for a photo-shoot, funded by a grant from the Historic Heartland Travel Association.
“The board decided to utilize those funds to create fresh, new photography, of which, Madison was included again,” said Ianelli. “Ralph was able to capture some great shots around town, in Town Park, and around the historic district.” On June 29, Merrell McGinniss, an accomplished freelance travel writer from Chattanooga, toured Madison with her family to garner inspiration for an article to be published in Atlanta Magazine on “Family Road Trips” destinations. The article will be a feature piece for the 2015 Georgia Travel Guide. “ Merrell and her family enjoyed walking through the historic district and some stores such as Laughing Moon, Amelias, and Barking Dogs. They were also treated to lunch and frozen custard by Dana and Richard Kibbey at Ricky D’s,” said Ianelli. Ianelli is dedicated to promoting Madison and Morgan County. “As a Historic Heartland board member, Madison and Morgan County are always front and center when opportunities for exposure arise,” said Ianelli.