Staff from Visit Franklin and the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, along with Franklin Mayor Ken Moore and others from the community take part in the ribbon cutting for the new Midnight Sun Scavenger Hunt at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm. // Photo by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
In a sense, the first Visit Franklin project to be approved by the newly formed Franklin Public Arts Commission is one big secret.
Ten big secrets, actually. That’s the whole idea behind what is known as the Midnight Sun Scavenger Hunt, which was unveiled Monday morning at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm by staff of the Williamson County Convention and Tourists Bureau. The organization has launched the scavenger hunt for tourists and residents alike, giving them the opportunity to follow clues and find horse statues that have been hidden at 10 different locations in and around downtown Franklin.
“We are excited for this new addition to the downtown area,” said Visit Franklin President & CEO Ellie Westman Chin. “This will be a fun way for visitors and locals alike to explore the extensive history throughout downtown Franklin in a fun and active way.”
Participants can pick up a brochure at the Visitor Center on Fourth Avenue in downtown Franklin, then read the clues to find the 10 locations where they’ll find a horse statue. After writing down the 10 correct responses in the brochure, they tn return to the Visitor Center to collect a prize.
Ten bronze horse statues — each slightly smaller than a football — have been strategically hidden and permanently installed at various locations with historic significance in the downtown Franklin area.
The horse seemed to make the most sense for representing Williamson County.
“We had all kinds of discussions about what the icon should be,” Wesman Chin said, “and really it came down to the horse. We have a rich horse history in Williamson County and in Franklin.”
The bronze statues were commissioned by Visit Franklin, with the help of local supporters, and created by renowned sculptor Janel Maher of Franklin, whose other works can be found in collections across the United States, Europe and South America. Midnight Sun was chosen as the namesake of the project to honor what the World Champion horse meant to the equine community around Franklin, and the entire Tennessee Walking Horse community.
“Without her [Maher’s] artistic ability, her creativity, this project would not be near what it is today,” said Megan Weisinger, Visit Franklin’s director of business development who came up with the idea for the project.
Franklin Mayor Ken Moore said other projects from the public arts commission should follow.
“This is a great example of how this community comes together and has a dialog about things,” he told attendees the kickoff. “One of the most exciting actions I’ve had as mayor has been to name a public arts commission. There’s been a lot of interest in this for some time.
“This is the first initiative for public art in this commission, and I think we’re going to see plenty more in the future. This will be exciting and great for our tourists. It will encourage them to stay longer, so whenever family comes to visit it would be a great place to send them.”