While the North Georgia State Fair has been going strong for 81 years, this year another Cobb institution, Cobb EMC, is celebrating 75 years of its own. To mark such a historic year, Cobb EMC is holding its annual meeting at the North Georgia State Fair, promising a fun-filled day for Cobb EMC employees and their families. After the annual meeting wraps up in the arena, all attendees and their families will get their hands stamped to enjoy unlimited rides inside the park.
“For our 75th anniversary, we wanted to have a meeting with a carnival-like atmosphere,” says Mark Justice, associate vice president of education and community relations for Cobb EMC. “In the past, we’ve always had our meetings at Cobb EMC, but with 8,000 members, we really couldn’t have this celebration on site. The fair gives us a lot more room and it’s such a great, family-friendly place to meet.” Although the agenda for the company meeting has yet to be set, the morning will start at 9:30 with a performance by singers from Dodgen Middle School, and part of the day will be spent listening to Youth Tour delegates relate experiences from their recent trip to Washington, D.C.
Cobb EMC’s decision to celebrate at the fair is particularly fitting because all the glittering sights and sounds would be impossible without the steady, silent hum of Cobb EMC power. “I think this anniversary is very exciting for the community because there was a time when Cobb County was so rural, there was no electricity,” says Justice. “In the days leading up to the creation of Cobb EMC, the county was covered with farms and you could drive for miles and miles without seeing a single light.”
Though Edison’s great discovery had illuminated nearly every major city in the nation, 50 years after the invention of the light bulb, most rural areas remained in darkness because it was too expensive to run lines to the country’s most remote and under-populated areas. In a movement that became known as “the quiet revolution,” in 1935 the Rural Electric Administration enabled EMCs to empower their own communities by bringing electricity directly to their citizens.
As the quiet revolution hummed along, kerosene lamps and fireplaces gave way to washing machines, refrigerators and radios, which fueled the transformation of Cobb County’s farmland into booming suburban communities filled with top-rated schools, Fortune 500 companies and mammoth entertainment complexes. “On Dec. 17, 1938, Sen. Richard B. Russell flicked the switch to energize our lines and began the modernization effort that we now take for granted,” says Justice. “It was such a symbolic day because those first lines were really energized that day. Electricity is very much a necessity now, but when we began Cobb EMC was providing energy to 489 homes and 14 businesses. Today we have more than 177,000 members and many more meters.”
In celebration of the company’s 75 years in business, Cobb EMC designed a special 75th anniversary logo and has posted memorabilia and historic documents on its company Facebook page. There, interested consumers can find original documents about the electrification process, as well as historic newspaper clippings about how electrification progressed throughout the county. Cobb EMC will unveil additional documents and special events throughout the year as the company counts down to its anniversary on Dec. 17. “We are proud to have served our members for so many years and we look forward to the annual meeting at the North Georgia State Fair,” says Justice. “The venue is going to be a great, family-friendly place to have our meeting and we hope to have a great turnout.”