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Discovery Park of America announces exhibit of presidential campaign buttons

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Discovery Park of America announces exhibit of presidential campaign buttons as the nation prepares to vote in the 2020 Presidential election

Discovery Park of America has announced a pop-up exhibit of presidential campaign buttons that opens Oct. 8, and will be on display at the museum and heritage park though the end of the year. The exhibit will be located in Art Hall, near the current temporary exhibit on women’s suffrage.

The collection of campaign buttons is on loan from Randy Anding, an Obion County, Tennessee, resident who also works in security for Discovery Park. Although Randy and his wife, Judy, both grew up in Louisiana, Judy’s mother was one of the Paschall family of Lake County, Tennessee, so they visited Northwest Tennessee frequently when she was growing up. The Andings moved to the area when they retired several years ago. Judy also works at Discovery Park in the guest services department.

Randy Anding began collecting buttons in the mid-1970s and picked up his first button during the campaign of Jimmy Carter against incumbent president Gerald Ford.

“I walked into Jimmy Carter’s campaign headquarters in Plains, Georgia and found his mother, Lillian, sitting there rocking back and forth in a rocking chair,” he said. “After speaking with her for a bit, I just had to buy a souvenir to remember the occasion, so I picked up my first campaign button.”

Randy Anding had the opportunity to see two campaigns up close when he encountered Robert F. Kennedy on the campaign trail shortly before he was assassinated in 1968 and George H. W. Bush at the 1988 Republican National Convention at the Superdome in New Orleans. The excitement and energy of both those experiences contributed to his passion for collecting campaign buttons.

Among the oldest buttons on display in the exhibit are buttons used for the campaigns of Wendell Willkie, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.

“It’s been interesting to see the evolution of how campaigns changed through history,” said Jennifer Wildes, Discovery Park’s director of exhibits. “You can see the transition of the buttons going from more serious black and white photos of those running for office to more colorful buttons that included the candidates’ wives.”

Also noteworthy in the exhibit are campaign buttons for some of the first minority candidates for president and vice president.

While Discovery Park encourages everyone to vote in the 2020 presidential election, another vote will also be featured as part of the exhibit. Guests will be encouraged to cast their vote for their favorite among a selection of campaign buttons. The winner will be announced on the final day of the exhibit, Dec. 31..