Museum Copes with COVID, Gets Ready for Holidays

November 19, 2020

After being closed for almost six months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Georgia Museum of Agriculture.

“The team at the Museum and all of our visitors continue to be very understanding and patient as we adjust to pandemic operations,” Museum Director Garrett Boone said.  “We have made changes to about every aspect of our operation, and now we are looking forward to a festive holiday season.”

Museum Country Store Manager Tonia Carpenter said the venue’s convenient location at 1392 Whiddon Mill Road just off I-75 in Tifton makes it a popular Christmas shopping spot. 

“We have new merchandise galore,” Carpenter said.  “I think the Georgia Grown products are going to be really great gifts this year.  We have peanuts, pecans, honey, and cheese straws.”

New items also include Bundt pound cakes for $20 and pound cake loaves for $8, both made fresh to order.  Shoppers can also pick up syrup, grits, corn meal, and turpentine, all produced on site at the Museum.

 “After being closed for almost six months because of the pandemic, we were able to slowly open back up, starting with the Country Store,” Boone said.  “People were ready to get out of the house and looking for something safe and fun. Thankfully, our Country Store and playground fit that bill.

“We added cotton candy, hand-dipped ice cream, and popcorn to the Country Store as well as two pieces of playground equipment behind the store.  We also have umbrella picnic tables and comfortable benches in the shade to give guests a way to spread out and enjoy their ice cream and the playground.”

Boone said the Museum’s children’s programs, “Toddler Time” and “Wiregrass Kids,” have been well received. The Museum’s other educational programs and field trips are re-opening cautiously and gaining momentum. Several school groups have visited on site for guided tours, and the Museum is also providing virtual educational programming.

“We understand the situation these schools are in, and we are trying to meet their needs,” Boone said.  “Guided tours have been really popular with the home-school groups.  It’s just a different time for everybody.”

Conference facilities are back open at the Museum but at a 50-person capacity.  The facilities have been used recently for corporate training, weddings and receptions, and birthday parties.

“We are receiving a lot of inquiries for events,” Boone said. “People have been very understanding about the size of the groups, guidelines, and requirements brought on by the pandemic.” 

Museum guests can also visit the Gallery where a unique presentation titled “Blood, Bone, & Stone” is now on display.  Museum Curator Polly Huff said the exhibit includes several hundred hand-crafted artifacts by Ocilla resident Jack McKey, a master craftsman of Naturalist and Native American Technology.

Meanwhile Carpenter is ordering extra items for the Christmas rush at the Country Store.

“We have some really unique little toys for kids that I think will go well,” Carpenter said.  “We also have a great selection of candy for stocking stuffers and Christmas party bags.”

The Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.  The Country Store has expanded its hours of operation to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and from noon until 5 p.m. on Sundays.