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‘The City That Soars’
First Eagle Nation on Parade sculpture since 2016 unveiled at Farmers Market
Eagle at Market
The latest Eagle on Parade was unveiled Tuesday at the Statesboro Farmer's Market, where it will be on display. It was painted by Jeff Garland, chair of the Art Department at Georgia Southern University. (JIM HEALY/staff)

The first new “Eagle Nation on Parade” sculpture to be unveiled since 2016 looks significantly different than the other dozen or so that can be found around Statesboro. It is painted to look like a real bald eagle.

And that was exactly his intention, said artist Jeff Garland at Tuesday’s unveiling ceremony of the eagle inside the Main Street Farmer’s Market. The six-foot plus tall sculpture – named “The City That Soars” – will be the official greeter as it sits in its permanent place outside the Market, behind the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau building on South Main St.

The Eagle Nation on Parade program was started in 2011 and the first sculpture was dedicated in 2012. All the sculptures have the same shape of an eagle on a perch with its wings raised and ready to take flight. However, the sculptures were all painted with designs, logos, wording and images that are particular to where they are placed around Statesboro.

Garland is the chairman of the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art at Georgia Southern University. When he was approached about painting the sculpture, he said he settled on the idea of the real colors of a bald eagle quickly.

Georgia Southern University's Jeff Garland, who is the chairman of the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art, is shown with Freedom the bald eagle, while standing in front of the newest Eagle Nation on Parade sculpture that he painted.

“The other sculptures are painted with a certain theme that is appropriate to their location – outside the library, outside the hospital, outside a middle school,” Garland said. “I thought why not make this one the unique one that actually looks like a bald eagle. It is ‘The City That Soars,” so why not paint it like it is ready to do just that – soar.”

Georgia Southern president Dr. Kyle Marrero dedicated the sculpture as Becky Davis, executive director of the CVB, and Justin Samples, marketing manager for the CVB, pulled back the cover to reveal Garland’s work.

“Georgia Southern is so thrilled to have one here at the Market and the Visitor’s Center for all to enjoy,” Marrero said. “This project was so important to the late Betty Foy Sanders, who was such a friend to Georgia Southern and this latest eagle honors her legacy in Statesboro and throughout the region.”

Also unveiled Tuesday was the fully completed boardwalk and footbridge behind the Market building that connects directly to the Willie McTell Trail. Some picnic tables and bike racks will be placed in the boardwalk area shortly.

“Connecting to the Willie McTell Trail has been one of our goals for many years, and we know it will enhance the entire downtown experience for both visitors and locals,” Davis said. “We’re excited to show the project off on the opening day of the Farmers Market.”

Saturday will be opening day of the 2023 Farmers Market season, which will run every Saturday through the week before Thanksgiving in November and conclude with the “Shopping by Lantern Light” event – a Market tradition since it opened in 2008.

Steve Hein with Market eagle
Steve Hein, executive director of the Center for Wildlife Education at Georgia Southern University, and "Freedom" introduce the latest Eagle on Parade sculpture Tuesday inside the Statesboro Farmers Market. The eagle sculpture was unveiled during a ceremony will sit outside the Farmers Market. (JIM HEALY/staff)
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