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Cultural Olympiad held in Pike 20 years ago

When the Olympic Games were hosted in Atlanta in 1996, Pike County was one of the sites for the Cultural Olympiad hosted by the Georgia Council for the Arts. Around 9,000 visitors traveled to the Strickland Store in Concord, which was filled with around $2 million in art and taxidermy animals from museums across the country, featuring the art of John James Audubon. The famous French-American’s art was paired with matching taxidermy animals and was part of the Georgia State of the Arts cultural celebration. ’We had millions of dollars worth of taxidermy and Audubon prints with no extra locks,’ said Concord resident Beth Jones who organized the event. ‘We had a dozen swans that hung from the ceiling and there were paddles on the floor that could be strapped on your arms. When they were waved back and forth, it made the swans move like they were flying across the sky.’ The event was hosted in October 1995 prior to the start of the Olympic Games and paired Audubon art with taxidermy animals. The event also featured taxidermy eagles and other birds of prey. The birds are now on display at Fernbank Museum. ’Since it is against the law to exhibit an eagle, we had to write to the Secretary of the Interior to ask permission and there was a plaque that noted the special display was approved for this event only,’ said Jones. The event in Concord was one of more than 100 cultural events that celebrated the arrival of athletes from across the world in 1996, showing the wide diversity of arts and culture offered in the state of Georgia. ’We were recognized as being part of the Cultural Olympiad because we did something that was regional and showed the majesty of the animals,’ said Jones.

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