Franklin, a great place for 2016 NNA convention

May 9, 2016

This year’s National Newspaper Association’s 130th Annual Convention and Trade Show will be in Franklin, TN. From Sept. 22 to Sept. 24, NNA members and vendors will inhabit the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs.

There is plenty to do in and around Franklin, so plan your trip with a little time built in either before or after the convention to explore this vibrant city.

There is a reason the heart of Franklin has been designated a Great American Main Street by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Located 17 miles south of Nashville, Franklin is rooted in Americana that preserves its southern heritage, while radiating a sophistication that’s downright inspiring, brimming with history, music, shopping and Southern hospitality.

There are 16 blocks of some of the best boutique and gift shopping in Tennessee.

From vintage memorabilia to unique home collectibles, Franklin’s stretch of antique stores is hypnotic. Explore places like The Second Avenue Antiques District, Scarlett Scales Antiques, Riverside Antiques, and Arbor Antiques.

The artistic pulse you feel on Main Street belongs to Franklin’s inspired collection of creative spaces. Recharge in imaginative places like Gallery 202, where you can catch a glimpse of a Warhol, Picasso, and other great works of art.

Find the best live music south of Nashville at places like the Franklin Theatre, Kimbro’s, Puckett’s and Gray’s on Main. NNA’s first vendor-sponsored event will take place at the Franklin Theater.

The Franklin Theatre began in the summer of 1937 when the marquee first illuminated Main Street, invited middle Tennesseans to buy a ticket—and laugh, cry and dream. Inside the theater walls, moviegoers enjoyed fresh popcorn, afternoon matinees and first kisses. They walked away with a lifetime of memories.

During the next 70 years, the world changed a lot, but the Franklin Theatre stood as a testament to a simpler way of life. But time eventually took its toll on the venerable movie house, and the doors closed in 2007 under the pressure of rising rents and the trend toward mega-theaters.

That’s when the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County came into the picture. Rather than lose the heart of Main Street, the nonprofit preservation group stepped in to buy and rehabilitate the historic landmark. After three years of work–and an investment of more than $8 million, the historic Franklin Theatre re-emerged better than ever.

The new Franklin Theatre continues the cherished tradition of showing movies, but it also adds a new dimension to Main Street—live music. With a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system, coupled with undeniable charm, the Franklin Theatre is destined to be an entertainment and cultural icon for years to come.

NNA will also visit The Factory at Franklin for its Extravaganza. The NNA Convention Committee is currently lining up some spectacular entertainment for the event.

The Factory at Franklin is a one-of-a-kind retail and entertainment complex listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is near Franklin, TN. Its restaurants and storefronts present distinct and varied offerings, showcasing local culture and artisan goods. It has three unique venues, totaling 30,000-square-feet.

The Factory was built in 1929, and served as the home of Dortch Stove Works, Magic Chef, and later the Jamison Bedding Co. The campus was purchased and renovated by local developer Calvin Lehew in 1996, who preserved many of The Factory’s original features and architectural details in a new mixed-use design.

Another change in ownership in 2012 led to a renewed vision and a mission-driven approach to revitalizing the property. The Factory at Franklin is on its way to becoming an interactive cultural destination for excellence in the performance and visual arts, dining, and retail experience.

And just a day after the convention ends, Franklin will be home to the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival.

This festival was inspired by friendship, history and the desire to create a meaningful experience. Two years ago, musician and Franklin resident Kevin Griffin was on a September morning jog through The Park at Harlinsdale, a century-old horse farm recently purchased by the City of Franklin. Kevin was so taken by the rolling hills, natural amphitheaters, and breathtaking vistas of the 230-acre farm that he envisioned it as a natural fit for a music festival venue. Considering Franklin’s place, Kevin wanted people to appreciate the beauty and rustic quality of middle Tennessee in the fall, and with the blessing of the city, he began to dream up a music festival to do just that.

Partnered with lifelong buddies W. Brandt Wood and Michael Whelan, the trio aspired to highlight the diversity and community spirit of the New Orleans Jazz Fest, tailoring the best elements to Franklin—a richly historic town just 20 minutes south of Nashville. Like Jazz Fest, Pilgrimage will take place during the day, and offer a diverse yet renowned lineup of rock and roll, alt-country, bluegrass, jazz, indie, gospel and more. Performing on patina-clad stages reflecting the area’s aesthetic, many bands will “crank it down” and give a partly acoustic set specifically tailored to the day. Moreover, the fest will boast “Pilgri-mashups,” pairing artists together for special one-time collaborations on stage. The Little Pilgrims Stage will be more than a kids’ play area; it will feature a line-up of talented young musicians in their own right, inspiring and entertain children and adults.

The region’s best food and drink will be on display at the Kitchen and Sippin’ stages at scheduled times throughout the weekend, and carefully selected food and merchant vendors will be featured in the Bazaar. When performances wrap at 7:30pm each day, guests can conveniently head back into the heart of downtown Franklin, within walking distance from the Park at Harlinsdale, to take in the best of the town’s restaurants, shops and great weekend lineup of nighttime shows.

Ultimately, Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival invites folks of all ages on a journey to experience a myriad of musical styles, a bevy of food and beverages, and the rich regional spirit.

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