• Governor Bentley issues Statement on approval of Gulf State Park legislation
  • Gov. announces funding of proposed coastal restoration projects
  • Phil’s BBQ and Viper take regional sauce competitions
  • Alabama Vacation Lovers Get a Chance to Enter Road Trip Sweepstakes
  • “Celebration of the Arts” awards ceremony Tues., May 21
  • Tour civil rights sites around South
  • Fitzgerald Museum offers reduced admission during opening weekend of Gatsby movie
  • Hot and Hot Fish Club honors Alabama’s seafood industry with new shrimp salad
  • Parentsmagazine names Gulf Shores one of America’s 10 Best Beach Towns for 2013
  • Bassmaster tourney could have huge economic impact on River Region
  • Guntersville State Park to celebrate campground re-opening May 18
  • River Bend Brewfest and River Jam Music Festival set for May 18
  • Free native wildflower seed packets at Russell Cave
  • Alabama Department of Archives and History announces museum closures and renovations
  • Doubletree Hotel opens new doors for Montgomery convention business
  • April Walking Tours 2013 recap and sign-up info
  • Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism 2013
  • Alabama Tourism upcoming events


Governor Bentley issues Statement on approval of Gulf State Park legislation

May 2

Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday issued the following statement upon the Alabama Legislature’s approval of Senate Bill 231, a measure that will help facilitate improvements at Gulf State Park, including a lodge and meeting facility that will help attract more visitors:

“I want to congratulate and thank the Alabama Legislature for passing the Gulf State Park bill, which supports the enhancement and improvement of one of the state’s greatest assets,” Governor Bentley said. “We have worked hard to secure funding for upgrades to the park facilities on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. This fulfills a promise I made to the people of Baldwin County to upgrade and improve Gulf State Park. The improvements will result in the creation of more jobs and will generate more tourism in our state. I particularly want to thank the bill’s sponsors, Senator Trip Pittman and Representative Steve McMillan, along with the House and Senate leadership and all those who supported the bill. This legislation will benefit the Alabama Gulf Coast and our entire state.”

The Governor’s Press Office can be reached at 334-242-7150.


Gov. announces funding of proposed coastal restoration projects

WALA, May 1

Governor Robert Bentley announced that Alabama will receive nearly $100 million in funding for three proposed coastal restoration projects as part of the ongoing early restoration process following the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

“The Alabama Gulf Coast is one of our greatest natural treasures, and we are committed to restoring and strengthening our coast,” Governor Bentley said. “These projects are designed to strengthen our natural habitat while also encouraging more visitors to explore our beautiful beaches. We have worked hard to identify projects that will benefit the people who live and work along the coast, the people who visit our coast and the natural habitats that exist along our waterways. I want to thank all of our local, state and federal partners who are working with us in this long-term recovery effort.”

Funding for the proposed projects will come from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Early Restoration process. The projects were negotiated with BP and Alabama’s federal and state partners. The project proposals have been approved by BP and the NRDA Trustee Council.

The assessment of overall, long-term losses to Alabama’s coastal resources continues under the NRDA process. Governor Bentley will continue additional efforts to restore losses suffered by the state.

“We recognize that recovery is a long-term process, and these projects represent only a portion of our overall efforts to address the losses suffered by the Gulf Coast and the entire state of Alabama following the oil spill,” Governor Bentley said. “This is an ongoing effort, and our efforts will continue to see that all of the injuries we have sustained are properly addressed.”

“In addition to its catastrophic impact on local fishermen and tourism, the BP oil spill dealt a severe blow to our pristine beaches and sensitive environmental areas,” said U.S. Representative Jo Bonner, R-Alabama. “The recovery will take years, but the approval of these funds will be invaluable in setting right the damage done to our shores. Gulf State Park is vital to our state economy, and the rehabilitation and improvements these funds will provide to the park, as well as to restore Mobile County’s oyster habitat and to protect Weeks Bay, are a tremendous first step to rebuilding and securing these treasures for future generations.”

As part of the trustee approval process, trustees actively sought public input on project ideas through a variety of methods. In the coming months, the NRDA Trustees will provide more information about the proposed projects and will at that time invite public review and comment in accordance with the Oil Pollution Act and all other applicable legal requirements and regulations.

The funding announced Wednesday was negotiated separately from the state’s lawsuit against BP that is currently pending. The funding does not release BP from any claims for monetary damages done to the state.


Phil’s BBQ and Viper take regional sauce competitions

Phil’s BBQ sauce from Eufaula and Viper sauce from Fairhope won the first series of regional Alabama BBQ Sauce-Off competitions on Saturday. The sauces will represent their areas at the state championship on May 18, in Birmingham.

Sauces competing Saturday morning at Market on the Square in downtown Mobile included Viper, Baumhower’s, Saucy Q and Bailey’s.

The Montgomery regional sauce competition was held Saturday afternoon during the Southern Makers festival in downtown. Sauces competing included Phil’s BBQ, Berdeaux’s, Fat Boy’s, Mike & Ed’s, Mike Elliott’s, Noodie’s, and the BBQ Shack.

Staff members of the Alabama Tourism Department collected 34 different brands of barbecue sauce for the statewide contest.

“Southern travelers love barbecue,” said contest coordinator Brian Jones. “When visitors come through an area they want to take some of that love home with them and these sauces are like barbeque passion in a bottle,” he said.

Mobile sauce-off judges included David Holloway of the Press-Register, television personality Christian Jennings and Harriet Shade of SPIRE advertising agency.

Television personalities Melissa McKinney and Heather VacLav joined Allison Griffin of the Montgomery Advertiser, Hunter Lewis of Southern Living and Chris Blankenship of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission in judging the Montgomery competition.

Other regional competitions will occur Saturday at farmers markets in Decatur and Tuscaloosa.

Learn more about Alabama food products, chefs, culinary destinations and events at: and at


Alabama Vacation Lovers Get a Chance to Enter Road Trip Sweepstakes

Giveaway highlights eight luxury vacation packages for up to 32 people

Alabama vacation lovers will get a chance to win free VIP style vacation packages at luxury resorts along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail thanks to this season’s Alabama Road Trip Giveaway. The giveaway is for eight exclusive packages for up to four guests each including luxury accommodations, sponsored by the Alabama Tourism Department and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Resort Collection.

The Alabama Road Trip Giveaway runs from April 22 to Aug. 18. You can access the entry form via The giveaway allows visitors to Alabama to experience the gracious tradition of Southern hospitality from historic Mobile Bay to the state’s only revolving restaurant in Florence to six other luxurious accommodations and amazing destinations in between.

The eight winning packages, each valued at around $4,000, feature two-night accommodations and a whirlwind of extras for up to four guests. The packages, which were donated by the resorts, include multiple meals, tours, spa treatments, free tickets to area events and tourist attractions, rounds of golf, tennis, spending money and much more. Consumers may enter all eight giveaways and may enter once per day while each segment is open. The giveaway will be open to residents of the 48 continental states where valid.

The road trip winners will be randomly selected and announced as each giveaway period ends throughout the spring and summer.

1. The Ultimate Relaxation Vacation at Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, Birmingham; entry continues until May 12, and then a winner is chosen.
2. Center Stage for Southern History at Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center, Montgomery; entry continues until May 26.
3. Perfect Girlfriends’ Getaway at Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa, Point Clear; entry continues until June 9.
4. Where History & the Hits Were Made at Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa, Florence; entry continues until June 23.
5. Golfer’s Dream Getaway at Montgomery Marriott Prattville Hotel & Conference Center at Capitol Hill; entry continues until July 7.
6. Explore the Coast at Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel; entry continues until July 21.
7. Athletics & Adventure Getaway at Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel & Conference Center at Grand National; entry continues until August 4.
8. Ultimate Mardi Gras in Mobile at The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa; entry continues until August 18.
“Travel to Alabama not only generates billions of dollars in economic impact, it also gives people a chance to see just how amazing our state is — from its natural world to the beautiful structures we’ve created ourselves, like the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail,” said Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell. “Alabama is a wonderful place for people to live and to visit.”

According to the most recent travel statistics, approximately 24 million people visited Alabama in 2012, and travelers spent more than $10.5 billion in the state. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail ranked as the number one tourism attraction in 2012 among attractions that charge admission.

You can learn more about what an Alabama travel experience can be at www.Alabama.Travel, which features dozens of road trips you can explore throughout the state of Alabama, or visit Prominent links allow you to then enter the giveaway on or


“Celebration of the Arts” awards ceremony Tues., May 21

The Alabama State Council on the Arts will honor nine outstanding Alabamians at the 2013 “Celebration of the Arts” awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. The event will take place at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, located at 1 Festival Drive, Montgomery. A reception will immediately follow the awards ceremony in the lobby of the theatre. The event is free and open to the public but reservations and tickets are required.

The Council’s “Celebration of the Arts” shines a spotlight on the arts and artists in Alabama. Individuals are recognized for their contributions to the arts in Alabama and beyond. Al Head, Executive Director of the Council stated, “This awards program is an opportunity for the state to showcase the work and support of individuals who are a significant part of our rich cultural landscape and bring great credit to our state through their achievements.”

This year’s recipients include a Pulitzer Prize winning author, an internationally recognized poet, a professor emeritus and cultural historian, a university president and his wife, a dance instructor and artistic director, a playwright, a traditional band, a community arts volunteer and arts patron and a long-time leader in the state legislature. Their contributions to the arts are diverse and far-reaching. Their impact on the entire state has been profound and sustained for many years. This year’s recipients are:

Lyndra Daniel, Birmingham – Jonnie Dee Little Lifetime Achievement Award

Rick Bragg, Piedmont – Alabama’s Distinguished Artist Award

Dr. Wayne Flynt, Auburn – Governor’s Arts Award

Gordon & Geri Moulton, Mobile – Governor’s Arts Award

Jean Prescott Pierce, Birmingham – Governor’s Arts Award

Sonia Sanchez, Birmingham – Governor’s Arts Award

Kitty Seale, Montgomery – Governor’s Arts Award

Excelsior Band, Mobile – The Alabama Folk Heritage Award

Senator J. T. “Jabo” Waggoner, Birmingham – The Special Council Legacy Award

In offering his congratulations to this year’s recipients Governor Robert Bentley noted, “Alabama’s arts community reflects a rich diversity of human resources and endeavors. The arts convey the personality of our state and communicate a unique “sense of home.” From traditional shape-note singers and quilters, to world-class theatre, to some of the finest museums in the Southeast, Alabama is truly a state of the arts.”


Tour civil rights sites around South

By David Aaron Moore, for the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Key events in 1963, from organized protests in Alabama to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, galvanized the civil rights movement that eventually toppled Jim Crow laws in the South. The 50th anniversary of those events is a great time to visit sties pivotal to the end of Southern segregation and that reflect on key events in African-American history.


The City: By car, Birmingham is about two hours and 15 minutes from Atlanta. If you opt to fly non-stop, it’s just under an hour. Founded in 1871, it grew so rapidly from a small town to a booming manufacturing center, it adopted the nickname “The Magic City.” It boasts a metro population of one million-plus and an economy that focuses on medical research, banking and the service industry. With hundreds of restaurants and a multitude of theaters, museums and sports activities available, it’s an entertaining and educational getaway. Referred to by many as the “Cradle of the Civil Rights Movement,” it is home to the 16th Street Baptist Church, which is recognized as one of the key sites in the struggle for African-American Civil Rights.

The Site: 16th Street Baptist Church

Constructed at its current location in 1911, the 16th Street Baptist Church was originally founded in 1873 as The First Colored Baptist Church of Birmingham. It is significant in the civil rights movement for a number of reasons, including its key function as a rallying point for movement leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., and the tragic bombing that occurred there on Sept. 15, 1963, which killed four young girls. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2006, it continues to hold services and offer tours for visitors. 1530 Sixth Avenue North. 205-251-9402www.

Where to Stay: Cobb Lane Bed & Breakfast

Replete with crystal chandeliers, fine china and legendary southern hospitality, this beautifully decorated Victorian style bed and breakfast near Birmingham’s Historic Five Points area, the downtown financial district and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. 1309 19th St. South 205-918-9090.

The Hotel Highland

Located in Five Points South and close to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the Hotel Highland is touted as the city’s premiere luxury boutique hotel . It includes 63 distinctive guest quarters with Brazilian bed linens and handcrafted furnishings. It was voted Birmingham’s top hotel in “Birmingham’s 2011 Best of the Best.” 1023 20th Street South, 205-933-9555.

Where to Dine: Highlands Bar and Grill

Cited as one of the best restaurants in America by the James Beard Association, Opinionated Dining, and others, fans of fine dining have flocked to Highlands Bar and Grill for French-inspired American cuisine since 1982. 2011 11th Ave S. 205-939-1400

Saw’s BBQ

Lauded by locals and websites like Yelp and Urbanspoon as the place to go for barbecue with heaping helpings at a budget price, Saw’s BBQ is legendary for its mouth-watering ribs, chicken and pulled pork. It’s a bit off the beaten path but well worth the drive. 1008 Oxmoor Road. Homewood. 205-879-1937

Montgomery, Ala.

The City:The capital of Alabama was officially incorporated in 1819. If you opt to drive – it’s relatively short: only about two-and-a-half hours. Non-stop flights are less than an hour. Once the capital of the Confederate States of America (prior to its relocation to Richmond), in later years the city would serve as a backdrop for several advances in the civil rights movement, among them the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Selma to Montgomery marches. Be sure to visit to the Rosa Parks Museum.

The Site: The Rosa Parks Library & Museum is located on the campus of Troy University at the corner of Montgomery and Moulton where Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955. It’s 7,000 square feet include interactive multi-media, as well as a replica of a 1950s era Montgomery city bus that highlights Park’s experience. 252 Montgomery St. 334-241-8615.

Where to Stay: Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa

This four-star hotel includes fine dining, a fitness and recreation center and a total of 345 rooms – 50 of those are considered “premium” in case you’re in the mood to live extra large. 201 Tallapoosa St. 334-481-5000.

Red Bluff Cottage

Victorian-inspired B&B includes breakfast, dinner and an amazing view of central Montgomery.551 Clay St. 334-264-0056.

Where to Dine: Michael’s Table

This eclectic blend of soul and comfort food with a modern twist from Chef Michael Hochalter is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. It’s captured numerous accolades for menu and ambiance, including a Top Fine Dining Experience nod from Alabama Magazine. 2960-A Zelda Place. 334-272-2500.

Dreamland BBQ

The legendary Dreamland Café opened in 1958 helmed by John “Big Daddy” Bishop. Inside you’ll find a bar, dining booths, a pot bellied stove and kind-to-your-wallet plates, sandwiches, desserts and more. 101 Tallappoosa St. 334-273-7427.

For the entire article, go to:


Fitzgerald Museum offers reduced admission during opening weekend of Gatsby movie
The Scott and Zelda Museum in Montgomery will celebrate the opening of “The Great Gatsby” movie this weekend by offering half-off admission for visitors who bring in ticket stubs from the movie. The movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel stars Leonardo DiCaprioand Carey Mulliganas the famed couple.

The new novel “Z” about Zelda and Scot’s troubled marriage has also helped bring attention to the Fitzgerald museum. Author Therese Anne Fowler was at the museum two weeks ago for a lecture and book signing. The number of visitors to the museum has more than doubled from the same period last year said executive director Willie Thompson. “This is the only museum in the world dedicated to the Fitzgeralds,” he said.

The museum takes up the first floor of the two-story clapboard and brick house in Old Cloverdale where the Fitzgeralds lived from 1931 to 1932. Local attorney Julian McPhillips saved the house from being demolished to build apartments in 1986. Fitzgerald worked on his novel Tender is the Night and Zeldabegan her only novel, Save Me the Waltz while living there, Thompson said.

Their meeting is described in “Z.” The novelist first met the young socialite Zelda Sayre at a local country club dance when he was assigned to a military base here during World War I. Zelda had grown up in Montgomery as the youngest child of Alabama Supreme Court Judge Anthony Dickinson Sayre. The First White House of the Confederacy, another house museum in Montgomery, was formerly owned by a member of the Sayre family, Thompson says.

The character Daisy Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby” was based on Zelda and her life of privilege Thompson said. Zelda had broken off an early engagement with Fitzgerald after he was unable to convince her that he would be able to properly support her. She agreed to marry him only after his first novel, This Side of Paradise, was published.

As Fitzgerald’s fame grew, the couple traveled the world becoming fixtures of the Jazz Age during the 1920’s. They moved back to Zelda’s hometown of Montgomery after a decade of living in New York and Europe in an attempt to gain some stability in their lives. He battled alcoholism throughout his life and Zelda had been hospitalized with mental illness in 1930. She was hospitalized in Baltimore for schizophrenia after the couple left Montgomery in 1932. They later moved to Hollywood before eventually splitting up. Fitzgerald died in 1940 at the age of 44. Zelda died in 1948 at the age of 48 during a fire at the hospital where she was undergoing electroshock therapy.

The Scott and Zelda Museum has several notable pieces from both of the Fitzgeralds including rare printings of his novels and several of her art sketches and paintings. The museum will be the host site for the 12th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Society Conference in November.

Located at 919 Felder Ave. the museum is open Wednesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1p.m. to 5 p.m. The website is


Hot and Hot Fish Club honors Alabama’s seafood industry with new shrimp salad

by Bob Carlton,, May 01

Since it first appeared on the menu in 1995, the return each year of the Hot and Hot Tomato Salad has been a red-letter occasion at Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club, an annual happening for which food lovers mark their calendars.

This year, though, Hastings is kicking it up a notch, if you will, and adding a second tomato salad to the menu, an entrée featuring fresh Alabama shrimp from Dominick’s Seafood in Bayou La Batre.

“I have a feeling it’s going to be an instant classic,” Hastings says.

Both the traditional Hot and Hot Tomato Salad appetizer and the new Poached Bayou La Batre Shrimp with Hot and Hot Tomato Salad entrée will be available at the restaurant beginning tonight and continuing through the end of September.

Hastings, a James Beard Award-winning chef and Food Network “Iron Chef America” champ, has become one of most visible advocates of the state’s seafood industry, serving on the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission and appearing in promotional spots championing the state’s shrimpers and fishermen.

The shrimp and tomato salad takes up that cause and serves it on a plate.

“We thought it would be a great way to not only create a tomato salad entrée, but also give us a platform to discuss the value, the importance and the real good fortune we have in Alabama to have such a tremendous resource in the fishing community,” Hastings says. “And, of course, Dominick Ficarino of Dominick’s is a big part of that.

“It gives us the chance to tell the story night in and night out about this great fishery that we have and some of the heroes of the fishing community.”

The traditional Hot and Hot Tomato Salad ($12) features a stack of fresh tomato slices arranged with field peas, sweet corn, fried okra, chive aioli and applewood smoked bacon. The restaurant’s signature appetizer, it is one of the Alabama Tourism Department’s “100 Dishes To Eat in Alabama Before You Die.”

The new Poached Bayou La Batre Shrimp with Hot and Hot Tomato Salad entrée ($34) comes with “all of the goodies” of the tomato salad, Hastings says, plus six head-on shrimp that have been peeled and marinated in basil and lemon olive oil.

The tomato salad typically returns to the Hot and Hot menu in early May, depending on when Hastings is able to find what he deems to be the perfect tomatoes from his supplier at the Alabama Farmers Market on Finley Avenue.

“It’s a moving target every year,” Hastings says. “Sometimes, it’s early. Sometimes, it’s late. Sometimes, it’s right on the money. So this year, it will be May 1, which is what we like to try to shoot for.”

Until tomatoes come in season in Alabama around late June or early July, Hastings uses Florida-grown tomatoes for his salad. As the summer progresses, he works his way farther north through September, when tomato salad season ends until the next year.

“Our philosophy is, we don’t think we should be selling tomatoes in October,” Hastings says. “Even if we can get good tomatoes, we feel like there are other things to celebrate in October. So it’s time to say a polite goodbye to the tomato salad and move on.”

Hot and Hot Fish Club is open for dinner from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The address is 2180 11th Court South, and the phone number for reservations is 933-5474.


Parents Magazine names Gulf Shores one of America’s 10 Best Beach Towns for 2013

by Marc D. Anderson, May 06

Parents magazine has named Gulf Shores among the 10 Best Beach Towns for Families in America in its June issue.

The magazine with more than 2 million subscribers, touting that it’s “a leading voice for a community of more than 15 million moms,” ranked the Alabama beach city No. 9 on its 2013 list.

According to a news release, Parents editors narrowed a nationwide list down to 100 beaches based on water quality through reports by the Natural Resources Defense Council. From there the list was whittled down further by checking cities’ lifeguards, restrooms, and amusement areas. Also, cities without extensive recreational opportunities inland were nixed from the list. The last step was making sure the cities had affordable lodging and entertainment — no hotel room starts at a higher price than $289 per night, and several come in below $200.

“Successful family vacations are about finding a balance,” Dana Points, Editor-in-Chief of Parents, said in the release “If you find a spot that has something for everyone, you know you’ve struck gold. This year, our picks have it all: beautiful beaches, great dining, activities for all ages and interests, and all without breaking the bank.”

A video on the magazine’s website shows off attractions from each city. In Gulf Shores, images include the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, LuLu’s at Homeport Marina, Waterville and a Civil War re-enactment at Fort Morgan.

For more information about the 2013 Parents 10 Best Beach Towns for Families and to see the video, visit

The latest recognition comes on the heels of an award-filled year for the city that includes the selection by readers of FamilyFun Magazine as a top 10 tourist town in the U.S., and being named one of the top 5 “Best Gulf Coast Beaches” by the Travel Channel,’s “10 places you should go while they’re still cheap” and Nashville Lifestyles’ “best luxury locations in the U.S. for discerning travelers.” Pleasure Island was picked by Country Roads magazine, a Baton Rouge-based cultural publication, as the “Best Place for a Family Escape.”

For the full list of places, go to:


Bassmaster tourney could have huge economic impact on River Region

by Kala Kachmar, May 4

City officials are hopeful that next week’s Bassmaster Elite Series in Montgomery will have a significant economic impact on the region and serve as a catalyst for bringing other national events to the city.

The four-day competition, which will be held May 9-12, will feature the 100 best bass anglers in the country. The Alabama River Charge is the fifth stop on the competition trail, where fans will be able to watch the weigh-ins and spend time at an outdoor exposition near the train shed in downtown Montgomery.

Denise Welch, event coordinator for the city, said the event will have a $2 million economic impact on the city, which includes food, lodging and tourist activities.

“We have potential to draw people from all over the state,” Welch said. “Sometimes they’ll hold a Bassmaster Elite in two different cities in a state. But this is the only stop in the state of Alabama for the Elites this year.”

Welch said the event likely will also draw people from Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee.

ESPN2 and ESPN Classic will show a one-hour broadcast of the event several times in June and July, and B.A.S.S. will broadcast live leaderboard video, have live blog updates and live streaming coverage at

“The show they do on the national network, there’s no way we could ever buy that,” Dawn Hathcock, Montgomery CVB director, said. “That exposure in itself is well worth having the tournament here.”

The event also will be featured in three of B.A.S.S.’s publications, including Bass Angler Magazine, which has more than 3 million readers, Hathcock said.

“It just increases our opportunity for future tournaments that could be larger and have even more media exposure,” Hathcock said.

Trip Weldon, a Wetumpka native who is also the B.A.S.S. tournament director, said Montgomery is one of 11 stops on the Alabama Bass Trail. Other cities include Anniston, Birmingham, Decatur, Dothan, Florence, Gadsden, Mobile, Muscle Shoals, Scottsboro and Tuscaloosa.

“There’s great fishing on the Alabama River,” Weldon said. “We love being down here on the river. It’s phenomenal what Montgomery has done downtown.”

For the entire article, go to:


Guntersville State Park to celebrate campground re-opening May 18

It has been a little more than two years since a series of tornadoes devastated the campground at Lake Guntersville State Park. The campground has since been renovated and is ready to serve the camping community once again. A celebration is taking place to commemorate its re-opening. The public is invited to attend the celebration on Saturday, May 18, 2013, beginning at 11 a.m. A ceremonial tree planting will kick off the celebration.

The campground has long been a favorite with campers who enjoy its location situated along the shoreline of the 69,000-acre Lake Guntersville. Once a shady haven, the April 2011 tornado toppled or severely damaged most of the trees in the area. Park officials hope that the campground’s refurbishment will make it a favorite place once again.

“The most devastating damage to the park was in the campground, specifically to the trees,” said Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein. “We have planted more than 450 oaks and maples throughout the campground. While it may seem a little stark right now, those trees will soon fill out and I think our visitors will be pleased with the effort we’ve made to restore the campground,” he said.

Following the tree planting, several activities will take place, and all are free. For kids, there will be inflatables, animal exhibits and games. Adult visitors will enjoy looking at antique planes, listening to live music and participating in game tournaments. At nightfall, a movie will be shown.

As part of the re-opening, the nightly rates on all campsites have been lowered beginning May 3. The new rates are as follows: water, electricity and sewer – $19; water and electricity – $17; and primitive – $10. To coincide with the celebration, a “Two for Two” camping special is being offered. Campers who book May 17 and 18 in advance will receive May 19 and 20 for free. Call 256-571-5455 to book a campsite.

Lake Guntersville State Park offers more than 300 improved campsites with seven newly renovated bathhouses, primitive camping area, playground, recreation area, and a fully stocked country store. Each improved site has a picnic table, grill, and fire ring. In addition, all of the lakeside sites now feature 50-amp electrical and sewer hookups. For additional information on the campground or the park, visit


River Bend Brewfest and River Jam Music Festival set for May 18

The inaugural River Bend Brewfest on May 18 at Riverfront Park will be a never-before experienced beer tasting event in Montgomery. The event will feature over 70 locally, regionally and nationally produced craft, seasonal, specialty and microbrew beers for sampling. Tastings will include selections from Good People Brewing Company, Back Forty Beer Company, Rogue Ales and Bell’s Brewery.

Gates will open at 2 p.m. with tastings beginning at 2:15 p.m. Tickets are $20 and include a commemorative tasting glass.

There will be a “Brews Cruise” aboard the Harriott II Riverboat sponsored by the Samuel Adams Brewery featuring selected beers from the Brewfest. Proceeds from the sale of the selected Samuel Adams brews will be donated to the Boston Marathon Victims’ Relief Fund. Tickets are $10 when a River Bend Brewfest wrist band is shown or $20 otherwise. Tickets for both the Brewfest and the Cruise can be purchased at the Riverfront Box Office located at 200 Coosa Street or online at www.funontheriver.neton the event calendar.

A new event, the River Jam Music Festival will be held later that day. The music will begin at 5 p.m. with the final act taking the stage at 10 p.m. The Alabama Roots Music Society (ARMS) and Riverfront Facilities have partnered to create a cool evening featuring local bands, as well as those that have toured regionally and nationally.

Information on both River Bend Brewfest and River Jam Music Festival is available at or by calling Riverfront Facilities at 334-625-2100.


Free native wildflower seed packets at Russell Cave

Sponsored by Legacy, Inc.

Russell Cave National Monument is pleased to announce that through a $500 mini-grant from Legacy, Inc. we are giving away free native wildflower seed packets at the park. Legacy, Inc.’s mission of providing quality environmental education programs for the public compliments our mission at Russell Cave to educate people about the lifeways of the pre-historic cultures who lived here for thousands of years. Therefore many of the flowers selected were found at Russell Cave and have very useful properties that helped the people of yesterday and continue to help us today. They are as follows: giant ironweed, showy milkweed, ox-eye sunflower, brown-eyed Susans, black-eyed Susans, blue chicory, and purple coneflower. Please, stop by while supplies last! And support Legacy, Inc.


Alabama Department of Archives and History announces museum closures and renovations

Sat., May 18, will be the last day to enjoy the Museum of Alabama before it temporarily closes for renovations this summer. The Museum will remain closed until Mon., Aug. 19. These closures are required to ensure the safety of our visitors and collections while renovations and construction is underway.

The Museum will also be closed on Saturdays May 25-Aug. 17. The third Thur. lecture series, ArchiTreats, will continue as scheduled during renovation. All other Department of Archives and History activities and services will continue as normal, and the building will be open Mon.-Fri., 8:30am-4:30pm. The Research Room will continue to be open Tues.-Fri. and the second Sat. of each month, 8:30am-4:30pm.

After a successful capital campaign, the Alabama Department of Archives and History is pleased to announce that construction has begun on Phase II of the Museum of Alabama. The project includes constructing the Museum of Alabama’s new centerpiece exhibit, the highly anticipated Alabama Voices, 1700-2000. Funded by $7 million of private contributions, this exhibit will showcase Alabama’s rich and diverse history from Creek Indians to the rise of Alabama’s automotive industry. The new exhibits are expected to open in early 2014.

Other disruptions and temporary closings on short notice may be necessary due to project activities. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please visit our website or the Archives Facebook page to stay informed about the progress of our construction and renovation projects.


Doubletree Hotel opens new doors for Montgomery convention business

The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau (CVB) is excited to announce that the new Doubletree by Hilton is now open for business in downtown Montgomery.

John Tampa and his hotel development team, that also renovated the Hampton Inn & Suites downtown, have transformed the old Madison Hotel into a contemporary, state-of-the art 131 room property.

Located at 120 Madison Avenue, the property is within walking distance from the Montgomery Convention Center and is included the downtown entertainment district. The addition of this hotel to the downtown inventory is expected to have a sizeable impact on economic development and contribute greatly to convention recruitment efforts.

“We are thrilled to welcome the team at the new Doubletree Hotel to the Montgomery market,” said Dawn Hathcock, Vice President of the CVB. “This property will be significant to our convention recruitment efforts as we will be able to contract with groups that will now bring larger events here rather than other cities because of the availability of more rooms.”

To learn more about the new Doubletree by Hilton, contact the CVB at 334-261-1100.


April Walking Tours 2013 recap and sign-up info

More than 1,700 people participated in the Alabama Tourism Department’s April Walking Tours this spring. Some 23 towns across Alabama hosted the tours across the state. Towns with the most participants included Decatur with 230, Florence with 185 and Cullman with 169.

The hour-long tours started at 10 a.m. each Saturday morning in April.

The tours were coordinated by Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department. “Alabama is the only state in the nation to hold statewide, simultaneous walking tours. More than 20,000 people have participated in the tours since the beginning of the program ten years ago. This program is all about the local tourism offices and chambers and they do a phenomenal job,” said Jones.

Towns wishing to sign up for the 2014 April Walking Tours should respond with an email giving their town’s name and starting location to


North Alabama celebrates National Tourism Week with free ice cream

In conjunction with National Tourism and Travel Week, visitors to the three north Alabama Welcome and Rest Centers will be greeted with free ice cream. Tourism is a $10.5 billion industry in the State of Alabama and members of the North Alabama tourism community celebrate one of the state’s top industries by giving away free cups of ice cream.

“The ice cream promotion is a way for us to meet with travelers and to show our appreciation to them for getting out and visiting the State of Alabama,” said Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association President and CEO Tami Reist. Tourism and travel play a significant role in communities across North Alabama by generating tax revenue when travelers make purchases at local restaurants, retailers, and convenience stores and by overnighting in hotels and motels, campgrounds, and bed and breakfast establishments.”

Members of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association will be greeting and serving Blue Bell ice cream to visitors at the three North Alabama Welcome/Rest Centers.

The I-65 Welcome Center in Ardmore Fri., May 10, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Cullman Rest Area on I-65 Fri., May 10, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

According to Reist, up to 2,400 cups of vanilla ice cream will be distributed at the three centers.

The first full week of May is annually recognized as National Travel and Tourism week, a tradition first celebrated in 1984, according to the U.S. Travel Association. It was established as National Tourism week when the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution in 1932 designating the week to be celebrated in May. Localized events, such as free ice cream, are presented in cities, states, and travel businesses nationwide to champion the power of travel.

For more information on the ice cream promotion or the tourism and travel industry, call Reist at 256-350-3500.


Tourism Day Celebrations at Welcome Centers, and Motorcycle Motorist Day

Celebration time at all Welcome Centers is: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

May 9 – Cleburne Welcome Center

TBA – Lanett Welcome Center

May 10 – Ardmore Welcome Center – Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association

May 10 – Cullman Rest Area – Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association

May 17 – Baldwin Welcome Center

May 18 – Houston Welcome Center

May 18 – Motorcycle Motorist Awareness Day at all Welcome Centers

May 24 – Grand Bay Welcome Center

May 30 – Dekalb Welcome Center

May 31 – Ardmore Welcome Center


Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism 2013

Mark your calendars for the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Aug. 17-20, at the Westin Hotel in Huntsville.

For information and registration, go to:


Alabama Tourism upcoming events

May 4-12 National Travel & Tourism Week – Nationwide

Jul 29 – Aug1 Alabama Motorcoach/Georgia Motorcoach – AMA/GMOA Joint Meeting – Stone Mountain, GA

Aug 17-21 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism – Huntsville, AL (Westin)
Sept 19 Alabama Mountain Lakes Annual Meeting

The Alabama Tourism Department News is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry. The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to:


Alabama Tourism Department