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Sign of the old times: Forsyth County gives relic of old music venue new life
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The refurbished Lanierland Music Park sign stands on Jot Em Down Road, near the entrance of Lanierland Park. (Photo courtesy Mitch Pike)

The sign once announced the next country music artist scheduled to perform in Forsyth County to those driving down Jot Em Down Road.

Now, it will announce the next athletic or community event.

Crews recently refurbished and re-installed the historic “Concerts in the Country” sign near the entrance of Lanierland Park that was once the site of Lanierland Music Park, a prominent country music venue in the 1980s that closed in 2006.

The sign is the last vestige of the former venue that hosted some of country music’s most legendary performers, including Johnny Cash, George Jones, Dolly Parton, and Kenny Rogers, as well as crossover stars like Jimmy Buffett and The Beach Boys.

“I just know that if we don’t preserve some of these historical monuments and places, they’re going to be torn down,” said Cindy Jones Mills, a member of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners who represents the area and whose family was instrumental in running the former venue, “and you can’t go back and replace them.”

Mills’s late father, Leon Jones, became a partner at the park in 1971, a year after it opened. It was very much a family-run operation; Mills worked her way up from serving at the concession stand to becoming general manager.

Forsyth County purchased the land in 2009 with funds from the voter-approved Parks, Recreation and Green Space Bond. After Mills joined the Forsyth County Commission, in 2012, and the county started to conduct a master plan to guide future development, Mills requested a study be done to assess how the county could, if at all, use the venue. 

According to the study, Lanierland Music Park couldn’t be saved.

“I had to suck it up,” Mills said.

Lanierland Music Park’s buildings were torn down and eventually replaced by Lanierland Park, a 109-acre park with athletic fields, trails and playgrounds, in 2017. 

The old white-and-red sign remained, but its age started to show. The metal pole rusted. The white color faded.

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File photo - photo by Jim Dean

County officials recognized that, as it prepared for Phase 2 of the park’s development, the sign needed to be fixed or taken down.

Mills decided to use some of the beautification funds allotted for her district to fix the sign. A few months ago, the board of commissioners approved a bid from Lang Signs -- the company that made the original sign -- to refurbish the sign at a cost between $13,500 and $19,000.

When the sign was re-installed, Mills received a picture of it from one of the park’s athletic booster club members. Mills posted the picture to her Facebook account. The post was soon flooded with people sharing memories of Lanierland Music Park.

Now, the sign will serve a new purpose. Lanierland Park’s booster club will use it to post announcements about upcoming athletic and community events.

“It’s always good when you can preserve history,” Mills said, “and let history be brought into the future.”