Observing the 2024 Eclipse at Discovery Park of America: How Dark Will It Get?

During the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, the “path of totality” will span across North America. It will begin in Mexico and then pass through several states in the United States before crossing into eastern Canada. The 2024 Eclipse, while not a total eclipse at Discovery Park in Union City, Tennessee, promises an intriguing glimpse into a rare celestial occurrence.

What to Expect at 99.2% Coverage: Guests will experience games on the front lawn, activities like the Epic Eclipse Race, a hands-on STEAM challenge, and members of the education team sharing fun and fascinating facts about the sky above us. And when the time comes, children and adults attending will have the opportunity to witness approximately 99.2% coverage of the sun. While this partial eclipse won’t result in complete darkness or the dramatic appearance of the sun’s corona like it will in areas in the path of totality, it will offer a noteworthy sight. You can anticipate a subtle darkening of the sky, akin to a very cloudy day or late winter afternoon, as the moon partially obscures the sun. Shadows may appear slightly sharper, and there might be a slight drop in temperature, creating a unique atmosphere for observation.

Understanding Eclipses: Eclipses have long intrigued humanity, blending science with myth and folklore. These events occur when the alignment of the sun, moon, and Earth results in a shadow being cast on one celestial body by another. During a solar eclipse, the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, partially blocking our view of the sun—a phenomenon that continues to captivate and inspire curiosity.

Fascinating Facts:

  • Total solar eclipses, where the sun is completely obscured, are infrequent occurrences, happening somewhere on Earth approximately every 18 months.
  • The 2024 eclipse is part of the Saros cycle, a pattern of eclipses that repeats roughly every 18 years and 11 days.
  • While the path of totality for this eclipse won’t cross directly over Discovery Park, it will offer a significant partial eclipse experience.
  • During the partial eclipse, observers may notice a subtle dimming of sunlight, changes in temperature, and unique crescent-shaped shadows cast by objects on the ground.
  • The only safe way to look directly at the sun during an eclipse is through special-purpose solar filters, like eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers. Discovery Park will have a limited number of glasses for sale in the gift shop, and you can preorder in advance here.

Also at Discovery Park:

Science and Space Gallery: Guests who visit the space and science-related gallery weave their way through the universe, starting on planet Earth and then venturing through the solar system, the galaxy, and then beyond. Data and imagery presented in these exhibits are taken almost exclusively from NASA sources. While an asteroid that enters Earth’s atmosphere is often called a “shooting star,” it’s actually a meteor. The pieces that do not burn up but hit the ground intact are called meteorites. The iron-nickel meteorite on display at Discovery Park fell to Earth in Nantan County, Guangxi, China in 1516 and weighs 661 lbs. This specimen was discovered along with others in 1958 when a field strewn with “iron rocks” was discovered by farmers looking for iron ore to make steel. When these heavy, iron-rich rocks wouldn’t melt, further investigation showed them to be iron meteorites.

STEM Landing: STEM Landing features a showcase of great STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) achievements. This area encourages guests of all ages to explore the different ways that STEM principles help shape our world. You will find a collection of NASA mission patches inside the geodesic dome, as well as an orbiter and other space-related artifacts. Then, you can walk outside and see an F-84 Jet and a Blue Angels plane on display, as well as a 110-foot Titan I missile donated by NASA.

As we prepare to observe the 2024 eclipse, let us embrace the wonder of the natural world and the mysteries of our solar system. Discovery Park invites you to join us on April 8 for this celestial event. While it may not bring total darkness or the breathtaking views of a total eclipse, the partial eclipse promises a fascinating and memorable experience with convenient parking along with easy access to food and beverage and restroom facilities.

Find out more at discoveryparkofamerica.com/solar.

Southern Artist Showcase: Jubie Henderson

Southern Artist Showcase: Jubie Henderson

“When I carve, I don’t use a pattern. I just think of the bird I want, and I carve it.”

—Jubie Henderson, 1992

Discovery Park of America has premiered an exhibit of works by Jubie Hendeson (1914-1999) in the museum’s Southern Artist Showcase. The gallery features two new exhibits each year spotlighting Southern painters, photographers, sculptors and other fine artists.

Henderson was a self-taught wildlife artist and woodcarver from Fulton, Kentucky who specialized in native birds of the western Kentucky and Tennessee regions. While he focused most of his work on birds, and he is more well known for those pieces, he did occasionally produce paintings depicting landscapes from our area where he lived most of his life. Included are paintings of Reelfoot Lake. Due to physical limitations, he had to rely on his memory to recreate these scenes.

A farmer and cabinetmaker by trade, while recovering from rheumatic fever in his thirties (for the second time in his life), he began to paint. He never had an art lesson, but too weak to work and wishing to remain productive, he had a sudden urge to paint and found himself gifted with a natural eye for beauty and balance.

His first brushes were made from his pet dog’s hair, and he painted with oil that he mixed himself. His wife, Edith, took his paintings to the sewing factory where she worked to sell them for $5 each.

Needing to rest quite often, Henderson made an easel from yardsticks to fit over his bed.

As his reputation as an artist grew as his talent began to improve, people would visit his home to see and buy his artwork, and art students from the nearby University of Tennessee at Martin even came to learn from his painting and carving techniques.

During his life, his art has been featured at the Kentucky State Fair, the Midsouth Fair, the International Banana Festival, the First Face of Kentucky collection at the Kentucky State Capitol, the annual art exhibit at Cape Girardeau, and one-man shows in Martin, Tennessee and in Kentucky (Fulton, Hickman, and Paducah). He was a member of the Artists Registry at the Brooks Memorial Art Gallery (now known as the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art) for several years. His original work was also displayed there in 1970.

Jubie Henderson was a member of the Artists Registry at the Brooks Memorial Art Gallery (now known as the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art) for several years. His original work was also displayed there in 1970.

The exhibit of Jubie Henderson’s art is sponsored by Conley & Conley Law Firm and will be on display at Discovery Park through Aug. 11, 2024.

Discovery Park isn’t the only place you can find David Crockett

“The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” an action-packed Western featuring William Moseley, is set to release in select theaters and through video-on-demand on Friday, March 8, 2024. Moseley is known for his portrayal of the fictional character Peter Pevensie in the “The Chronicles of Narnia” trilogy, which won him a Kids’ Choice Award, in addition to nominations for a Saturn Award and a Young Artist Award. He also played Prince Liam in the E! series “The Royals.”

“It is the epic, story behind the legendary ‘King of the Wild Frontier,’” reads the movie’s description. “Long before his last stand at the Alamo, the legendary American hero Davy Crockett fought his way through a wild frontier to rescue his sons from the clutches of an evil land baron.”

Set in 1815, the film focuses on David Crockett’s adventures while fighting his way through the wild frontier to save his children from the clutches of an evil land baron (Colm Meaney of Hell on Wheels). According to producer-director Derek Estlin Purvis, “We wanted to explore the larger-than-life mythology that enshrouds the Crockett name and use his ardent opposition to Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act as a throughline for what turned out to be a beautiful action-adventure tale.”

There are many places at Discovery Park where guests can experience folk hero, frontiersman, politician and West Tennessee settler David Crockett every day. In addition to an exhibit and film, guests can take their photo next to a statue of Crockett. He lived in our region from 1822 until he departed for the Alamo in 1835. Crockett was also one of the earliest hunters around nearby Reelfoot Lake. Discovery Park’s annual celebration of Crockett’s birthday will take place on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2024 and will once again feature interactive activities, live demonstrations and musical entertainment. Included will be a variety of programs on topics such as woodworking, fur trapping, outdoor cooking and more.

Discovery Park CEO, Scott Williams, recently published a biography on David CrockettThe Accidental Fame and Lack of Fortune of West Tennessee’s David Crockett that is available in the Discovery Park gift shop and on Amazon.com. “Of course, Crockett is still popular and pops up everywhere from Disneyworld to the Simpsons, said Williams. “I’m glad there’s now a film being released that will introduce one of Tennessee’s biggest icons to a whole new generation.”

Future home of Interstate 69 is now open

Today, Discovery Park employees and members of the Obion County Chamber of Commerce celebrated the opening of the portion of the future I-69 that travels from Fulton, Kentucky through Union City, Tennessee with lunch in Discovery Park’s Cooper Tower.

“Robert Kirkland first picked this spot for Discovery Park nearly 15 years ago in anticipation of this day. It’s fantastic to see it finally open, “said Scott Williams, CEO of Discovery Park. “Now, we can all look forward to the completion of the final leg south toward Dyersburg. That is really going to be a game changer for tourism and industry in this entire region.”

TDOT crews made the transition from the current roadway to the new roadway direction on Wednesday morning. The section from west of SR 21 to south of SR 5 in Obion County has taken multiple projects over a decade and an investment of over $220 million.

The US 51 interchange with US 45 in Tennessee, stretching into Kentucky, is identified for funding in TDOT’s 10-Year Project Plan, with construction scheduled in Fiscal Year 2028. Once completed, I-69 in Tennessee will be connected to I-69 in Kentucky.

Celebrate 10 years of Inspiration with $10 Admission at Discovery Park of America on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023

Celebrate Discovery Park of America’s 10th birthday with $10 admission at the ticket counter on Saturday, Nov. 4. 2023. Family memberships will also be discounted to $100.

Since Discovery Park of America opened its doors on Nov. 1, 2013, millions of children and adults have benefited from the big idea of Robert Kirkland and the community of Union City, Tennessee to create a place where inspiration would happen every single day.

To celebrate, the entire museum and park will be activated that day. Included free with admission or membership will be:


10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Dino Hall

Kids Karaoke with DJ Deb

1-2:30 p.m.

Live music with Roger Alexander and Jim Bondurant

3 p.m.

10th anniversary ceremony with the burial of the time capsule that will be opened on Discovery Park’s 50th anniversary

Hosted by CEO Scott Williams and former CEO Jim Rippy

11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Encounters with animals who have been with Discovery Park for 10 years

Other fun activities happening throughout the day:

Living historians, reenactors and demonstrations throughout the park

Hands-on fine art stations to create works of art

Vibrant displays of balloons to add to the celebration

Indulge in delicious cookies specially prepared for the occasion (Free while supplies last)

Premiere of video featuring some of those who were present as Discovery Park was being built

A display of photos, articles and other early memorabilia from the museum and park’s inception

Photo caption: Discovery Park of America under construction.

Discovery Park’s 10th birthday is sponsored by: Leaders Credit Union

Several thousand guests experienced the first Native American powwow held at Discovery Park

Guests and Native American vendors and participants traveled to Northwest Tennessee to Discovery Park to take part in the inaugural Native American Powwow held Oct. 27 – 29, 2023.

This event, unique in Northwest Tennessee, provided a place for Indigenous people from tribes around the country to celebrate their culture while educating Discovery Park visitors on this aspect of our nation’s past, present and future.

Friday’s performances and exhibitions were planned with students in mind and included a “Birds of Prey” demonstration by a ranger from nearby Reelfoot Lake State Park.

The 2023 Northwest Tennessee Native American Educational Powwow included competitions and displays of Indigenous storytelling, drumming, singing and competition dancing. Native American artisans, craftsmen and traders displayed and sold their original work and food vendors provided opportunities for guests to enjoy traditional cuisines like fry bread, tacos and hominy.

The event also included several performances by Arvel Bird. With his violin, fiddle, Native flutes and Irish whistles, Bird’s performance featured a powerful and entertaining mix of music and stories.  No stranger to live entertainment, Bird has toured worldwide with Glen Campbell, Loretta Lynn, Tom T. Hall, Ray Price, Louise Mandrell and Clay Walker.

You can see pictures from all three days of the Powwow on Discovery Park’s Flickr page.

Winners of the competition portion of the Powwow were:


Men’s Grass 

Dancer: Stephan White Eagle

Dancer: B.C. Daugherty

Dancer:  Tim Clifft

Men’s Straight 

Dancer:  Ronald Monoesessy

Dancer:  Aaron Partin-Rogers

Dancer:  Nick Behan

Girl’s Jingle 

Dancer:  Lena Tsosie

Dancer:  Harmony Bl

Dancer:  Ashtyn Terry

Women’s Traditional 

Dancer:  Jaida Whitecloud

Dancer:  Nicole Pavateo-Santos

Dancer:  Jennifer Tsosie

Men’s Traditional

Dancer:  Kerry Reed

Dancer:  Charles Mesteth

Dancer:  Gabe Cleveland

Women’s Jingle 

Dancer:  Mikah Whitecloud

Dancer Brianna Printup

Dancer:  Roxy Evans

Men’s Fancy 

Dancer:  Adam Bell

Dancer:  Marcus Gardner, Jr.

Dancer:  Robin Jumper

Girl’s Traditional

1st Place:  Skye Poola

2nd Place:  Lauren Jennings

Boy’s Grass 

Dancer:  Eli Poola

Boy’s Traditional 

Dancer: Kayden French

Boy’s Fancy 

Dancer:  Ehren Bell


Tractors and signage from the Discovery Park of America collection being sold online by Aumann Auctions, Inc.

Several Discovery Park of America tractors and an assortment of original, vintage gas station signs are being auctioned off online by Aumann Auctions, Inc. All items being auctioned off were from purchases made by the museum several years ago that have been kept in the museum’s off-site storage. By rehoming these items, the museum is keeping with best practices to periodically evaluate and retain a manageable collection to ensure that it can properly care for, store, and display the artifacts within it, as new items continue to come into its possession.

The funds generated from the auction will be utilized to grow and care for the artifacts in Discovery Park’s permanent collection.

Aumann Auctions, Inc. of Nokomis, Illinois was founded in 1962 and conducts over 100 auctions annually throughout the country and online.

The tractors from Discovery Park are being auctioned as part of Aumann’s 2023 Fall Harvest auction. The auction ends on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023 at 6 p.m.

Tractors from Discovery Park included are:

Lot 32: Farmall Super M

Lot 33: Minneapolis Moline UTC Highcrop

Lot 34: Gibson Model I – Six Cylinder

Lot 35: Rare Gibson Model E Widefront

Lot 36: Silver King Model 42

Lot 37: John Deere Model BR

Lot 39: Oliver 70 w/ Rare Raby Cab and Widefront

Lot 40: John Deere 630 Row Crop

Details and dates of the assortment of original, vintage gas station signs will be announced soon.

Discovery Park of America included in travel-inspired toy catalog from the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

Discovery Park of America is included among 25 of Tennessee’s biggest attractions including Pigeon Forge’s Dollywood, Memphis Zoo, Chattanooga’s Ruby Falls, Bristol Motor Speedway, Navitat Knoxville, Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry and others in a travel-inspired toy catalog from the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. While 100,000 families will find the catalog in mailboxes this week, printable versions are now available for download and catalogs can be ordered at www.Tennesseeplaycation.com.

In addition to the collectible toy builds, the catalog offers 88 pages of fun and games to keep children entertained on a road trip.

“More than ever, we know parents want to gift their kids memorable experiences and yet they still want something to unwrap,” said Mark Ezell, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “Tennessee Playcation bridges the gap and makes it easy to do both in a fun, kid-inspired package that is the first holiday catalog of its kind.”

Developed by advertising agency VMLY&R, Tennessee Playcation is part of a larger holiday campaign hitting key markets this fall to spotlight family attractions across the state.

“This promotion is certainly well-timed for us here at Discovery Park as we also prepare to launch next year’s big temporary exhibit, “Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects: Made with LEGO Bricks,” said Scott Williams, president and CEO of Discovery Park. “With this exciting new toy catalog from our friends at the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the LEGO bricks exhibit coming Summer 2024 and numerous camps and other activities, there will be many fun and creative ways Discovery Park will inspire children and adults to see beyond.

Dates and details of “Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects: Made with LEGO bricks” at Discovery Park will be announced soon.

A Tyrannosaurus Rex Fossil building block is available for purchase online or will be available for purchase in Discovery Park’s gift shop on October 9, 2023.

“Tennessee Playcation” follows the state’s award-winning 2019 campaign, “Kid Reviewed.” The department introduced special wearable technology called the Laugh Tracker to scientifically prove where kids have the most fun by measuring laughs and heart rate. In addition to the data, reviews were recorded and posted at www.Kidreviewedtn.com to help parents make kid-informed decisions.

Tyannasoarus Rex Mini Building Blocks


Discovery Park joins the Interpretive Center on the Great River Road

Discovery Park was honored to be selected for inclusion as an Interpretive Center on the Great River Road National Scenic Byway last week at the 2023 Mississippi River Parkway Commission (MRPC) annual meeting in Alton, Illinois.

Celebrating 85 years in 2023, the Great River Road was established in 1938 when governors of the 10 river states opted to use existing roads and highways rather than building a new continuous road, as a means of conserving land, time and money.

Stretching for 3,000 miles through and beside 10 states—including Tennessee—the Great River Road has a separate commission in each state. These commissions coordinate through the MRPC, founded to preserve and improve the natural resources, cultural heritage, economic viability, scenic quality, recreational amenities and other features significant to economic development in the Mississippi River Valley.

Interpretive Centers must first apply to be included and then go through an evaluation process after which they are voted on by the Culture and Heritage Committee of the MRPC.

Edmond McDavis III, director of the TN Delta Alliance, which is funded through a grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, is the point person for interpretive centers in Tennessee.

As one of more than 100 Interpretive Centers, Discovery Park will now be included in the free 10-state Great River Road map that shows the Great River Road’s route through all 10 states and highlights the Interpretive Centers along the way. Travelers can plot their route and find scenic overlooks, agritourism attractions, museums and more. Maps are distributed to tourists at various locations and can also be ordered on the Great River Road website. Discovery Park will also be included on future signage that indicates the locations of Interpretive Centers along the Great River Road.

For more information, visit www.discoveryparkofamerica.com/greatriverroad


Photo Caption: Tennesseans at the 2023 Mississippi River Parkway Commission annual meeting in Alton, Illinois included (l to r): Mike McClanahan; transportation manager, Tennessee Department of Transportation Highway Beautification Office; Christian L. Treglia, director of brand promise fulfillment, Tennessee State Parks; Scott Williams, president and CEO, Discovery Park of America; Dale Dozier, building official, Dyer County, Tenn.; and Edmond McDavis III, director of TN Delta Alliance.



Press Release: Discovery Park of America welcomes four new board members

Union City, Tenn. (August 3, 2023) Discovery Park of America is pleased to announce the appointment of four new members to the board of directors: Dr. Keith Carver, Steve Carr, Jerry Ward and Bettie Graham.

  • Dr. Keith Carver, senior vice chancellor and senior vice president, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
  • Mayor Steve Carr, Mayor, Obion County, Tennessee
  • Jerry Ward, owner, Jerry Ward Autoplex
  • Bettie Graham, owner, Union City Coca Cola

The primary mission of Discovery Park of America is to inspire children and adults to see beyond. With this in mind, the addition of these accomplished professionals to the board signifies the organization’s commitment to fostering community growth and providing enriching experiences to its visitors.

Scott Williams, the president and CEO of Discovery Park, expressed his enthusiasm for the newest additions to the board, stating, “We are thrilled to have Keith, Mayor Carr, Jerry, and Betty join our board. Each of them is passionate about the mission of our organization, and we’re grateful they will be serving the community alongside our other board members and staff.”

In addition to the four new board members, Discovery Park’s board of directors is comprised of a group of individuals committed to the park’s continued success: Al Creswell (board chair), Johnny Bacon, Emily Billingsley, Bob Cartwright, Ron Cooper, Mike Cox, Alice Fennel, Lindsay Frilling, Grace Gary, Terry Hailey, Ann Joiner, Bennie McGuire, Tim Shanks, Sam Sinclair, Betty Ann Tanner, Will Wade and Scott Williams.

As new board members are added, their cartoon-style portrait is hung on the wall in Art Hall alongside other board members. The paintings, an idea championed by Discovery Park founder Robert Kirkland, have been done by Pat Wade and Dr. Paul J. Marsidi.

Community Jam Session on Saturday, August 12 Q & A

Q: What is a community jam session?

Community jam sessions are a way for musicians of all levels to come together, connect and create music in a casual and supportive environment. Jam sessions bring musicians from all walks of life together. This session is open for anyone who wants to participate, whether they are a seasoned musician or a beginner. It’s an opportunity for people to share their passion for music and engage in a collective musical experience. Unlike more formal performances or rehearsals, community jam sessions have a laid-back atmosphere.

Mulberry Jam, an acoustic old-time string band based in the Memphis area, will lead the community jam session.  Mulberry Jam will perform in The Settlement Pavilion prior to the jam session at 12:15 p.m. Find the full schedule of events for the David Crockett Birthday Celebration here.

Q: How do I know if I am ready for a community jam session?

If you have a basic understanding of your instrument and a desire to collaborate and learn from others, you’re ready.

Q: Are there any specific rules or etiquette I should follow during the jam session?

 Discovery Park’s community jam session will be informal and laid-back, but it is still essential to be respectful and considerate while others are playing. Listen attentively to other musicians and be responsive to their cues and give space for everyone to take turns and share the spotlight.

 Q: What is the purpose of a community jam session?

A jam session provides a collaborative environment for musicians to improvise and play music together.

Q: How do beginners prepare for their first jam session?

Beginners can prepare for their first jam session by choosing a few songs to play and having a good understanding of the songs they will perform.

Q: How do I register to participate in Discovery Park’s community jam session on Saturday, August 12?

 Those participating in Discovery Park’s jam session can register by arriving at Discovery Park by 1:00 p.m. with an acoustic instrument. All participants must enter through the main entrance of the Discovery Center. Each participant with a string instrument receives free admission. The jam session will take place in the Settlement Pavilion on the north side of Heritage park.

This presentation is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment of the Arts and the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Press Release: Discovery Park celebrates David Crockett’s birthday on August 12 with community jam session

(Union City, Tenn.)— Discovery Park of America will mark David Crockett’s birthday on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023 with interactive activities, live demonstrations and a community jam session led by Mulberry Jam, a five-piece band that plays period songs of the past with traditional instruments and arrangements of the string dance performers of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

All local musicians are invited to participate in the one-hour jam session that will take place in the Settlement Pavilion on the Northside of Discovery Park. Mulberry Jam will perform a concert for all guests to enjoy at 12:30 p.m. and the jam session will follow at 2 p.m. All participants are encouraged to bring their own instruments.

“Discovery Park is the perfect place for local musicians to come together and share their talents and passion for music,” said Dr. Emalee Buttrey, Discovery Park’s director of education. “We welcome anyone to come and join us, whether you are a novice, a seasoned jammer or if you just want to come and listen.”

Crockett was a celebrated folk hero, frontiersman and politician who made his home in Northwest Tennessee from 1822 until he departed for the Alamo in 1835. Crockett, known for his marksmanship, was one of the earliest non-Native American hunters around nearby Reelfoot Lake. A passionate advocate for the earliest settlers of West Tennessee, he served in the state legislature from 1821-24, then as a member of Congress representing West Tennessee counties in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1827-31 and 1833-35.

In addition to the community jam session, other activities during Crockett’s birthday celebration include:

  • Native American skills, crafts and cooking education with homemade fry bread available for purchase
  •  Operation of the Brewer-Austin Gristmill
  •  Birds of Prey program presented by Reelfoot Lake State Park
  • The Family Community Education Crystal Club of the UT/TSU Extension Program demonstrating textile arts and sewing
  • Presentation on the history of fur trapping by Seavers Beavers
  • Outdoor Dutch oven cooking demonstrations
  • Woodworking Demonstrations
  • Presentations on wildlife of West Tennessee during Crockett’s time in the region
  • Living historians demonstrating traditional skills and crafts including candle and soap making and spinning and weaving
  • Reelfoot Area Flintknappers to demonstrate flintkapping process
  • Operation of the Forge

Find the full schedule of events at DiscoveryParkofAmerica.com/DavidCrocket2023.

This presentation is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment of the Arts and the Tennessee Arts Commission.