Wetumpka officials thrilled about HGTV ‘Home Town Takeover’ premiere May 2
Wetumpka is ready for its close-up. Almost a year after it was announced that the city beat out 2,600 other small towns to be the focus of HGTV’s “Home Town Takeover,” the show will air its first of six episodes May 2.
“Home Town Takeover” follows Ben and Erin Napier, stars of the hit home-renovation show “Home Town,” as they give Wetumpka’s downtown and historic district a facelift, with a focus on how renovation and preservation can revitalize a small town.
The Napiers’ passion for small towns has been playing out on “Home Town” since that show began in 2016 and is built on their belief in the big worth of American’s smaller places.
“It’s too bad that small towns are so often undervalued because you can live a beautiful life in them,” Erin said in a news release announcing “Home Town Takeover’s” premiere. “People really want to believe in a bright future in the place where they live, but rebuilding a town is no small feat. It takes every member of that community using their gifts and skills coming together to make a difference.”
In Wetumpka, leaders and residents did just that, getting behind the work and filming of 12 projects with a cohesive team spirit that made the Napiers’ and HGTV’s film crews’ jobs easier. “I just didn’t expect people to be so grateful and so willing to help,” said Liz Kerrigan, the show’s executive producer. “Everyone was thrilled to work with us.”
According to HGTV, all that work went into “major renovations” on a diverse array of projects, including restaurants, shops, historic homes, public spaces, a new farmers market and an entire downtown street.
Jenny Stubbs, executive director of Main Street Wetumpka, a nonprofit that helped jumpstart downtown revitalization efforts in Wetumpka in 2017, has strong feelings about finally seeing the finished show and seeing Wetumpka’s progress shared with so many others.
“It’s excitement, pride, jubilation!” she said. “I’m thrilled for the world to see how a small town can come together and make true change. Sure, we had a network behind us, but I don’t believe they would have given us a second glance had we not put in all of the time and effort before they got here. The idea of showing off our beautiful little town in front of such a large audience makes all of the time, energy and love we poured into it completely worth it.”
Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis echoed Stubbs. “I am thrilled at the excitement the show has brought to this community already. The momentum has brought so much interest to Wetumpka,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what happens after the premiere.”
He also hopes Wetumpka’s unity is evident on the screen. “I hope they will see our unique qualities and what a tight-knit community we are,” Willis said.
Jane Latman, president of HGTV, believes watching the transformation in Wetumpka will motivate other small towns to follow in the city’s footsteps. “’Home Town Takeover’ will inspire small towns across America because it will show them the impact that neighbors, local leaders and a few friends working together can have on their community,” Latman said. “We’ve seen the power of that in Laurel, and we want to spark that same change in more small towns.”
Stubbs hopes viewers take in her city’s “never give up” attitude. “Never count yourself out,” she said. “I look back to five years ago when the struggle and the real work began, and I never would have guessed we’d be where we are today. Whether it’s a hope for your town or a dream for yourself, the impossible can be possible. You just have to hang in there, do what needs to be done and be patient.”
Many dreams have been made true in Wetumpka in recent years; “Home Town Takeover” is simply the sweet icing on an already delicious cake. And the city is inviting everyone to come take a bite.
“I am excited for people to come and feel the energy and see just how much has been accomplished here,” said Shellie Whitfield, executive director of the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce. “It is an exciting time waiting for the show to air. While we are waiting, we are focusing on making sure that when people come visit, they have a great experience.”
Whitfield is happily anticipating increased tourism and the ensuing positive economic impact, but she knows the Wetumpka “Home Town Takeover” story is broader than dollars and cents, noting that the show’s true message isn’t how to choose the right paint or tile color.
“The big takeaway is to help one another,” she said. “People that were strangers to us came in and helped us achieve our dream. The long-term effects of this will bless our community beyond measure forever. I hope that people understand that the point that Ben and Erin are trying to make is that we should all work together to build our communities and make them places our children want to live.”
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)