Coffee County: Music, whiskey, charm
In the last decade, Coffee County and Manchester, Tenn., have become household names, thanks to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival that attracts thousands every June. The county also is home to the George Dickel distillery.
But County Mayor David Pennington said it's the history, people and charm of the community that keeps visitors coming back.
"We're a really community-minded county," Pennington said of the county about halfway between Nashville and Chattanooga.
He said retiring Arnold Engineering Development Center Col. Michael Panaris told him his assignment in Tullahoma was "the only place he didn't want to leave."
Pennington said Coffee County's communities are true examples of Southern hospitality.
AT A GLANCE
-- Population: Coffee County, 52,796; Manchester, 10,102; Tullahoma, 18,655.
-- Best things to do: Coffee County is home to the George Dickel Tennessee Whisky distillery, located between Tullahoma and Normandy, one of just two operating distilleries in the state. Tullahoma claims the Beechcraft Heritage Museum, a one-of-a-kind, "living and working" aviation museum that traces the lineage of that family of airplanes.
-- Biggest employers: Arnold Engineering Development Center, MTek, Batesville Casket.
-- Miles from Chattanooga: 72 miles from Manchester, 80 miles from Tullahoma.
-- Geographical features: Coffee County is home to scenic areas such as Old Stone Fort State Park, Short Springs Natural Area and the Normandy Lake Reservoir.
-- History: Coffee County was founded in 1836, formed from Bedford, Warren and Franklin counties and named in honor of Gen. John Coffee, Creek War and War of 1812 cavalry commander, frontiersman, congressionally appointed surveyor-general, land dealer and prosperous planter, according to the Tennessee Blue Book.
-- Most-famous residents: Charlie Allen, a current country music singer and songwriter; Georgette Jones, daughter of country music legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette; Dr. R.P. Huff, a Civil War physician and producer of patent medicines.
-- Unique traditions: The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, held every June, is a four-day, multistage festival held on a 700-acre farm. Bonnaroo draws some of the top acts in music and attracts 80,000 or more people a year. It marked its 10th anniversary in 2011.
-- Unique characteristics: Arnold Engineering Development Center, known widely as AEDC, is home to the world's most advanced and largest complex of flight simulation test facilities in the world. AEDC operates 58 aerodynamic and propulsion wind tunnels, rocket and turbine engine test cells, space environmental chambers, arc heaters, ballistic ranges and other units on 41,300 acres in Coffee County and parts of neighboring Franklin County.