Restaurants signing up for Alabama Restaurant Week
• Deadline July 1 to sign-up for April Walking Tours 2014
• Official Alabama Vacation Guide 2014 – June 10 deadline
• Do You Have What It Takes For National Geographic?
• UA to commemorate 50th anniversary of the ‘Stand in the Schoolhouse Door’
• Decatur’s Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q is highest ranking Alabama restaurant on              Southern Living’s new ‘Best Rib-Stickin’ Joints’ list
• Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Birmingham
• Motorcoach groups to come as a result of Alabama FAM tours
• Indiegogo Crowdfunding campaign launched for feature documentary, Brother Joseph & the Grotto
• Sequoyah Caverns to close its doors Sept. 3
• Top Renaissance hotels for meetings located in Alabama
• Save the date – celebrate the all-new Hyatt Regency Birmingham – The Wynfrey Hotel
• USA-BC offering Hospitality and ‘Ecotourism’ classes
• Calling all Bluegrass musicians and enthusiasts
• Group Tour Culture & Entertainment reports group tours roll through Tuscaloosa and discover the only Mercedes Benz museum outside Germany
• Montgomery Area CVB nominates Riverwalk Stadium for VirtualTourist’s 8th Wonder of the World
• Pinson’s Turkey Creek Preserve added to National Trails System
• Kitchen on George executive chef to represent Alabama Gulf Coast at NOAA fish fry in Washington
• CD features Creating a diving reef
• Vote for Tuscaloosa in Benjamin Moore’s “Paint what matters” contest
• Alabama angler lands world record for landlocked striped bass
• Thousands attending seventh annual Preserve Jazz Festival in Hoover
• Ron McConnell Promoted to VP of Convention Sales & Services at MBCVB
• Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism 2013
• Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Restaurants signing up for Alabama Restaurant Week
Forty-three restaurants from across the state have signed up for Alabama Restaurant Week 2013.
The sign up process is quick and easy. Any Alabama restaurant that qualifies (and most quality if they are not part of a national chain) only has to enter their basic information at this time. You have until July 15 to enter your exact fix-priced meal offering.
Sign up at:
See the ABOUT section of for a summary of the rules of the promotion.

Alabama Restaurant Week is August 16-August 25, 2013 promotion and is part of the Year of Alabama Food state tourism campaign.

Restaurants in the Birmingham area are encouraged to sign up for Birmingham Restaurant Week and be included in both Birmingham and Alabama Restaurant Week promotions. Contact James Little of REV Birmingham 205-324-8797

As of midday June 4, the following restaurants had entered at least their basic information at
Athens: LawLers Barbecue
Decatur: Simp McGhee’s, Timbuck 2, Vittone’s, Albany Bristo
Dothan: Ariccia Italian Trattoria & Bar, Basketcase Café, Nektar Café & Wine Bar, Fire Stone Wood Fired Pizza and Grill
Elkmont: Belle Chevre Cheese Shop and Tasting Room
Eufaula: Phil’s BBQ, Water’s Edge Restaurant
Gulf Shores/Orange Beach: Dancing Cup Café, Villaggio Grille, Pelican Sam’s Roost, LuLu’s
Hammondville: Big Jim’s Bama Q
Huntsville: 1892 East, Clemintine’s, Clemintine’s at the Garden, Café Berlin, D&L Bristo, Grille 29, Happy Tummy, Nick’s Restorante, Sage Grille, Shea’s Express, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café
Mobile: 219, Serda’s Coffee Co, The Italian Fisherman, True Midtown Kitchen
Monroeville: David’s Catfish House
Montgomery: Martha’s Place, Wishbone Café
New Market: Daniella’s In the Park, New Market BBQ
Rogersville: Café Savanna
Troy: Milky Moo’s Homemade Ice Cream
Tuscaloosa: Cypress Inn
Tuscumbia: OH! Bryan’s Downtown
For more on Alabama Restaurant Week, contact Grey Brennan
For more on Year of Alabama Food, contact Brian Jones

Deadline July 1 to sign-up for April Walking Tours 2014
Towns interested in participating in the 2014 April Walking Tours should respond with an email giving their town’s name, starting location, and shipping address to:

Towns that have already signed-up include: Arab, Athens, Atmore, Cullman, Decatur, Eufaula, Heflin, Huntsville, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Phenix City, Prattville, Selma, Sheffield, Sylacauga, Tuscumbia and Wetumpka.

The hour long tours will start at 10:00 a.m. each Saturday morning in April. Dates for the 2014 April Walking Tours are April 5, 12, 19 and 26.

“These tours are an excellent way for towns and communities of any size to be involved in a state-wide tourism campaign,” said Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department. “There is no cost to participate and state tourism provides all the posters, brochures and collateral materials. More than 20,000 people have participated in the tours since the beginning of the program ten years ago” he said.

Official Alabama Vacation Guide 2014 – June 10 deadline
The Alabama Tourism Department is preparing the vacation guide for 2014.   So that the listings in the guide will be up to date, we need to find out about new hotels, motels, hotel or motel name changes, bed and breakfast inns, campgrounds, outfitters, etc. that have opened in your area in the past year so that they may be included in the 2014 printed vacation guide.

Please email the new facilities’ names and telephone numbers to: call Pam Smith at 334-353-4541. Please do this by June 10.

Do You Have What It Takes For National Geographic?
The nomination process has started and thirty-eight attractions, natural areas, festival and other points of interest in Alabama have already submitted their nominations for a four-state US Gulf Coast Geortourism MapGuide. Not all those who submit will make the final cut, but you have to submit to be considered by National Geographic for this project. Plans call for some 100 Alabama points of interest, so there is time and room for your nomination. There is no cost to be involved.
The Alabama nominations and their categories that have been submitted so far are:
Festivals and Events: Mobile Mardi Gras, Annual Jubilee Festival, Annual Arts and Crafts Festival (Fairhope)

Community: Shape Note Singing in Henager, Battle-Friedman House and Gardens, Historic Downtown Montgomery, Civil Rights and Civil War, Fendall Hall, The Quilters of Gees Bend, The Hank Williams Trail, Spanish Fort, Downtown Fairhope, Five Points South Birmingham, Restaurants, Olde Towne Daphne

Food or Drink: Tuscaloosa Farmers Market

Historic or Prehistoric Place: Pickens County Alabama Courthouse, Gaineswood National Historic Landmark, Confederate Memorial Park, Hart House (Eufaula), Chattahoochee Indian Heritage Center, Fort Morgan State Historic Site

Local Point of Interest: Largest Craft Mall in West Alabama, Tuscaloosa River Market, The Boil Weevil Statue

Natural Area: Frog Pond USA, Gulf State Park

Museum, Theatre, Interpretive Centre: Jacksonville State University Planetarium, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum, Alabama Museum of Natural History, Anniston Museum of Natural History, Guntersville Museum, Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
Outdoor Adventure: Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge on the Tennessee River, Captain Jack Charters, Alabama’s Inshore Artificial Reef Habitats, Alabama Offshore Artificial Reef Zone, Gees Bend on the Alabama River

Other categories with no Alabama nominations are Accommodations (unique, historic or bed and breakfast), Action Opportunities, and Packaged Experiences. Time to submit your nomination is limited. The 90-day window for submission has been underway for several weeks. Go to  to nominate.
For more information, contact Grey Brennan

UA to commemorate 50th anniversary of the ‘Stand in the Schoolhouse Door’
Fifty years after the first two African-American students enrolled at The University of Alabama following then Gov. George Wallace’s unsuccessful “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” UA will commemorate that historic day and celebrate 50 years of progress with two public events – a program featuring speakers and musical performances on June 11 and an interfaith prayer breakfast on June 7.

“This is an opportunity to reflect on our history, celebrate our progress and look ahead to the next 50 years of change on our campus,” said UA President Judy Bonner.

On Tuesday, June 11, UA will host “Through the Doors: Courage. Change. Progress.” The 6 p.m. event at UA’s Foster Auditorium is designed to recognize and honor the courage and dedication of Vivian Malone and James Hood, the two African-American students who enrolled at UA on June 11, 1963. It will include presentations by current UA students and alumni as well as musical performances.

The program will also recognize UA’s ongoing commitment to change over the past 50 years and its commitment to continued progress in the future.

The program will begin with a 5:30 p.m. reception in the Malone-Hood Plaza outside Foster Auditorium and will conclude by 7 p.m. Individuals attending the program may park in any legal parking space.

The public is also invited to an interfaith prayer breakfast at 7:30 a.m., Friday, June 7 in Sellers Auditorium of UA’s Bryant Conference Center. The program will celebrate the role of the faith community in the civil rights movement. While the breakfast is free, those planning to attend are asked to register at by June 3.

Rev. Christopher Spencer, director of community development in UA’s Center for Community Based Partnerships, will serve as master of ceremonies.

Throughout 2013, UA has hosted a series of activities and events designed to honor the desegregation of the University, and other events are scheduled in coming months.
A special website,, launched in February, is devoted to the anniversary. It also serves as a source of historical information beginning with Autherine Lucy’s attempt to enroll at UA as the first African-American student in 1956.

Decatur’s Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q is highest ranking Alabama restaurant on Southern Living’s new ‘Best Rib-Stickin’ Joints’ list
by Matt Wake,, May 23
Two of the top 10 rib joints in The South can be found in North Alabama, according to Southern Living’s “Best Rib-Stickin’ Joints” rankings.

Decatur’s Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q checks in at number four in the list, which was determined by the votes of 13,000 fans, according to a Southern Living press release, while Dreamland BBQ, whose numerous Alabama locations include Huntsville, Birmingham and, of course, the mothership in Tuscaloosa.

Charleston’s Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ tops the “Best Rib-Stickin’ Joints” tally, which will appear along with the rest of Southern Living’s 2013 ‘Cue Awards in the venerable magazine’s June issue.
Other Alabama restaurants making the 15-eatery list include Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, whose 12 Alabama locations include Birmingham and Montgomery and Tuscaloosa, and, Northport’s beloved and charmingly down-home Archibald’s Drive In (which is this writer’s personal fave).

Southern Living noted Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q’s, “St. Louis-cut spareribs are the perfect marriage of meat, spice and hickory smoke.”

For more on Southern Living’s 2013 ‘Cue Awards, visit
To see the article, go to:

Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Birmingham, Alabama
By Verna Gates, Reuters, May 31
Birmingham is honoring its turbulent past by commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, which killed four young girls, and other historic events that were part of the civil rights movement in the Alabama city.

Today Birmingham is known for fried chicken and James Beard-nominated chefs, and a music scene ranging from blues and country to jazz and opera. It also has one of the finest art museums in the region, home to Old Masters and folk art.

Reuter correspondents with local knowledge help visitors make the most out of a short visit.
For the entire article, which includes a jam-packed itinerary of attractions and restaurants, go to:
Also, see:,0,7056060.story?page=1

Motorcoach groups to come as a result of Alabama FAM tours
More than 5 motorcoach groups are expected to come throughout 2013, beginning in June, to tour Alabama as a direct result of several Alabama FAM tours. These FAMs were hosted by the Alabama Tourism Department, Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma and Tuskegee Convention & Visitors Bureaus. The FAM tours were opportunities to showcase Alabama’s history of Civil Rights and Civil War, which also helped the participants to focus on the need to travel to landmark sites to experience history up close.

Indiegogo Crowdfunding campaign launched for feature documentary, Brother Joseph & the Grotto
Red Clay Pictures has launched an Indiegogo campaign to help raise funding to finish their feature documentary Brother Joseph & the Grotto. Indiegogo is an International crowdfunding website that allows filmmakers as well as other creative artists to raise money from people all over the world by promoting their creative projects. The Brother Joseph campaign gives people the option of playing a role in the making of the documentary. Crowdfunding gives people the opportunity to network and pool money for creative projects.

In addition, funds generated through the Brother Joseph campaign also are tax deductible because of a partnership with the Southern Documentary Fund (SDF), a North Carolina nonprofit that cultivates documentaries made in or about the American South. According to their website, their mission is to inspire documentaries that have the power to change lives, SDF serves as a leading advocate for powerful Southern storytelling, providing filmmakers with professional support, fiscal sponsorship and creative community.

“We are excited about this opportunity with Indiegogo and about the partnership with the Southern Documentary Fund,” said Cliff Vaughn, director, Brother Joseph & the Grotto. “We have outlined many ways that people can become part of our project, which is about the inspiring story about the man whose passion and love for God made his dream a reality in the quintessential Ave Maria Grotto at Saint Bernard’s Abbey in Cullman, Ala.”

Anyone can be a part of this project by choosing how much they want to be involved; funding options range from $10 – $2500 with a campaign goal of $10,000. Funds raised from the campaign will help pay for things like: rare archival footage (like the only known motion-picture footage of Brother Joseph, captured in a Paramount Pictures newsreel and unseen for 70 years) and post-production services (like color grading) to deliver as polished a final product as possible. The campaign also gives funders the option to receive perks with their donation, but the funder can choose not to take the perk.

The documentary’s impact will be felt worldwide because the Ave Maria Grotto is real and a true Southern tourist attraction. It (the documentary) also opens the door to the small but important details in the life of Brother Joseph.

The documentary places Brother Joseph in his religious and historical context, and this is important. He was a folk artist, but he was a Benedictine monk, a fact that influenced both form and content in his art. And the fact that he lived and worked in an Alabama abbey also matters because historical events manifest themselves in the work and legacy of Brother Joseph. To view and donate to the Brother Joseph campaign, please visit the campaign website here:

“The film offers people the opportunity to see a different side of the Ave Maria Grotto through the eyes of the man who built it. It is full of history and little known facts about the Grotto. We can’t wait to release it around Alabama,” Vaughn added.Vaughn anticipates that the feature documentary will be released at an event this October on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey.

Sequoyah Caverns to close its doors Sept. 3
June 3

After forty-nine years of welcoming visitors from all around the world, Sequoyah Caverns and Ellis Homestead will close its doors September 3, 2013. Known for its “looking glass lakes”, Sequoyah Caverns is located in Wills Valley at the foot of Sand Mountain in northeast Alabama and has attracted thousands of families, school groups, and travelers over the years.
“This summer will be the last chance to see the beautiful “looking glass lakes” of Sequoyah Caverns. We would like to thank everyone for your patronage throughout the years, and we hope to see you this summer,” said owner John Jones. The cave and property has been in the Jones’ family since 1841.

Unlike other caves, Sequoyah Caverns is full of “looking glass lakes”, which reflect the thousands of intricate rock formations and nature’s magnificent underground creations. Along with the reflection pools, the Caverns also feature towering stalagmites, waterfalls, and writings on the walls dating back to the early 1800s. The attraction was named Attraction of the Year in 2006 by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. In 2010, it was rated the #1 thing to do in Alabama by and was inducted into the North Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame. Approximately 12,000 people visit the attraction each year.

A trip to Sequoyah Caverns and Ellis Homestead is more than just a visit to a cave. Along with exploring the caverns, the grounds also contain a picnic pavilion and a farm animal corral, as well as offer fishing and hiking the pristine Lookout Point Trail to a view of the beautiful valley below. Other activities include mining for multicolored gems as cool mountain water flows down a hand-made wooden trough and watching farm animals such as oxen, sheep, goats, and horses, milling around the property. A gift shop is also located on the grounds where a variety of souvenirs, handcrafted items, and light concessions can be found.

James Ellis and his family moved to this homestead in 1841 and, over the years, acquired and cultivated hundreds of acres of woodlands. Today, the direct descendents of James Ellis still live here and welcome visitors to the 58 beautiful acres set aside for all to enjoy.

The Cavern is named for Chief Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee alphabet, who taught his writing system in the Willstown community during the movement of the Cherokee Nation to Oklahoma. A historical marker in his recognition stands in Valley Head, only a few miles from the Caverns.

Sequoyah Caverns and Ellis Homestead is located off I-59 north of Valley Head and is open Mon.-Sat., 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with guided tours available daily. Admission is $15.95 per adult, $8.95 per child, and free for children three years and under. Group Tours and Wild Cave Adventures are also available.

For more information, call 800-843-5098.

Top Renaissance hotels for meetings located in Alabama
May 30
Three of the Top 10 Renaissance Hotels in the United States for meetings are located along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama. Conducted by an outside research firm for Marriott International and its Renaissance Hotels, meeting planners are surveyed about their experiences in the 69 Renaissance hotels in the United States. Here is how the Alabama hotels ranked nationally.

#1 – Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa. With 238 guest rooms and 27,000 square feet of meeting space, the historic hotel in downtown Mobile first opened in 1852 and continues to impress meeting and leisure guests today. The Battle House has been known as “Mobile’s Living Room” for generations. The hotel also is a member of Historic Hotels of America.

#6 – Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa. Surrounded by the 4th longest golf course in the world, Ross Bridge is known for great meetings, golf, spa and cuisine. Resembling a Scottish castle, the resort has 259 guest rooms and 15,500 square feet of meeting space. Ross Bridge was named one of the Top 500 Hotels in the World in 2012.

#8 – Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel.Both nautical and modern in theme, Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza offers exceptional service to meeting and leisure guests. With 373 guest rooms and over 44,000 square feet of meeting space, the hotel is also connected to the Mobile Convention Center and is an easy walk to downtown Mobile museum, galleries, restaurants and attractions.

“Hotel guests and meeting planners are surveyed independently and randomly by an outside research company to see how we all measure up,” said Margo Gilbert, general manager of the Battle House. “With such great hotels nationally, it is a real honor to be ranked best of the best at number one,” said Gilbert. “Southern hospitality, a caring staff and attention to detail may be the secret to our success. We have a great team, strong ownership and a commitment to excellence. Having two of the top eight hotels in Mobile and another from Birmingham speaks loudly on how the Retirement Systems of Alabama is improving the image of our state and our reputation in the hospitality industry.” These three hotels are part of the Resort Collection on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Information on the Resort Collection can be found at

Also, see: Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa named brand’s top locale for meetings
by Kelli Dugan,, May 30, at

Save the date – celebrate the all-new Hyatt Regency Birmingham

The Hyatt Regency Birmingham – The Wynfrey Hotel – a $20 million dollar renovation with untouched southern hospitality. The transformation will be completed in June 2013, including all guestrooms, meeting space, Regency Club Lounge, public space, and food & beverage outlets. The hotel now offers 329 oversized, modern guestrooms with features and amenities that allow for a convenient and comfortable stay. All 32,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including the Wynfrey Ballroom and more than 22 meeting rooms, have been elegantly appointed with contemporary updates. A revitalized sense of arrival with an updated lobby coupled with a new restaurant, Merk’s Tavern and Kitchen, and a Hyatt StayFit fitness center, will complement the time-honored southern hospitality that awaits guests at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham – The Wynfrey Hotel.

USA-BC offering Hospitality and ‘Ecotourism’ classes
Contributed (USA-BC) staff reports, June 4, Gulf Coast Visitor Guide

The University of South Alabama Baldwin County will begin offering hospitality and tourism courses in the fall 2013 semester. The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies will offer “Introduction to Hospitality Management” and “Ecotourism.”

According to the University’s course offering, “Ecotourism will present the examination of the interaction of ecotourism with social, natural and cultural environments, as well as the impacts of ecotourism on the environment and global societies. Additionally, Introduction to Hospitality Management includes an overview of management in the hospitality industry and professional opportunities, examination and discussion of concepts and practices, as well as the scope and forms of hospitality organizations, and the global and local trends within these organizations.”
To read the entire article, go to:

Calling all Bluegrass musicians and enthusiasts
In its 12th year, the Rogersville Bluegrass Festival has been designated by the Alabama Legislature as the Official Alabama Bluegrass Music Championship in Banjo, Mandolin, Dobro and Guitar. There are band and fiddle competitions as well.

The festival and competitions promote the area’s Bluegrass roots and provides a performance platform for some of Bluegrass music’s established and upcoming talents.
The fun starts Thurs. night in downtown Rogersville, with informal jam sessions.
The competitions begin Fri. evening and continue all day Sat. Total prizes equal $5,870.
Stan Nelson & Hurricane Creek will entertain Friday evening, and Saturday afternoon.
Admission is $8 Friday, $10 Saturday, or $15 for both days with kids 12 and under free.

For more information, go to:,,, or call the Rogersville Area Chamber of Commerce at 256-247-9449 for more information. To request a brochure, email

Group Tour Culture & Entertainment reports group tours roll through Tuscaloosa and discover the only Mercedes Benz museum outside Germany
Southeastern Article, May 23
When Mercedes-Benz readied its Alabama plant in Tuscaloosa, it combined the best practices of German, U.S. and Japanese automakers. More than 15 years later, the German-based company’s only U.S. plant continues to turn out the M-Class, R-Class, and GL-Class SUVs.
In 2014, a new generation of the C-Class will be produced for the North American market, and a fifth model is coming in 2015.

The Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc., Visitor Center serves as an entry point for groups, offering factory tours and the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

Mercedes-Benz is just the beginning of tour options in Tuscaloosa. The Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission works to customize itineraries for groups.

“One of the things we really pride ourselves on is taking the time to listen to what the tour operator says their clients want to do,” said Tina Jones, director of corporate and group tourism.
“If you close your eyes and think about the best Alabama tour staying overnight in Tuscaloosa, what do you imagine? We can create it.”

Along with sporting events and guided tours of the 175-year-old campus, groups can visit the elegant 1820 Gorgas House and the Alabama Museum of Natural History, now in its second century. Housed in a grand exhibit hall, the shining example of beaux-arts architecture is a walk-through the age of the dinosaurs, the ice age, the coal age and beyond.

The university also has a museum dedicated to its legendary Crimson Tide football team and its equally legendary coach, Paul Bryant, better known as Bear Bryant. The Paul W. Bryant Museum rolls through a century plus of football.

To read the entire article, go to:

Montgomery Area CVB nominates Riverwalk Stadium for VirtualTourist’s 8th Wonder of the World
Voting Now Open Through September 30

The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB), the organization responsible for promoting tourism in the city of Montgomery, announced today that it has entered Riverwalk Stadiuminto’s quest to crown the “8th Wonder of the World.” Public voting is now open at, a leading travel research website and community that is part of TripAdvisor Media Group. Riverwalk Stadium is a modern baseball stadium built into a historic train station in downtown Montgomery. It seats over 7,000 and has 20 luxury suites, with six of those built into the old train terminal and 14 on the third baseline. The stadium also includes picnic areas, playgrounds and a $1 million scoreboard with an LED screen capable of instant replay. Stadium Journey Magazine compared the stadium to those all around the country, of all levels and sports, and named Riverwalk Stadium 18th best experience in the “101 Best Stadium Experiences” of 2012 as well as the second best minor league and fourth overall in professional baseball stadiums.

“Riverwalk Stadiumwas essential to creating an active downtown area to attract visitors to Montgomery who are looking for additional activities when they attend conferences, meetings, military schools or just vacationing. Additionally, the stadium has become a venue to help attract sports events, and thus traveling teams to Montgomery,” says Dawn Hathcock, Vice President, CVB.

With numerous Tourism Boards, Chambers of Commerce and Visitor Bureaus sending in a nomination, the public is asked to vote for their favorite out of the more than 200 submissions. Voters can visit to vote for Riverwalk Stadium and have until September 30 to do so. The wonder with the most votes will be crowned the winner. The winner will be featured in a national broadcast TV segment on a popular syndicated program as well as receive a massive media relations campaign push from VirtualTourist.

“It’s wonderful to have a nomination from every corner of the world so we are thrilled to receive Riverwalk Stadium as a nomination from the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau,” said Giampiero Ambrosi, General Manager of “As one of the best travel guide resources on the web, members and visitors to our site have been to almost every country in the world. We are eager to see which landmark they will choose to be crowned the 8th Wonder of the World.”

To vote for Riverwalk Stadiumfor 8th Wonder of the World, just visit
For more information, visit

Pinson’s Turkey Creek Preserve added to National Trails System
by Jeremy Gray,, June 3
Pinson’s Turkey Creek Nature Preserve Trail System was one of 28 trails in 18 states, and four in Alabama, to be added to the National Trails System, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Parks Service announced Friday.

The 2.13 miles of trails were chosen for their “unique beauty,” the announcement stated.
“The paved Highland Trail provides walkers and bicyclists a moderate climb through the Highland Forest; the easy Boy Scout Trail takes hikers past some of the most scenic reaches along the banks of Turkey Creek; and the Thompson Trace offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing,” the announcement continued.

The preserve is also the home to the endangered vermillion darter fish.
Others in Alabama recently added include the Harvest Square Recreational Preserve Trail System in Madison County; Forever Wild Coldwater Mountain Trail System near Anniston; and the Phenix City Riverwalk along the Chattahoochee River.

The new designations, nationwide, added almost 650 miles of trails to the National Trails System.
“From coast to coast, the National Trails System helps connect American families with the wonders of the great outdoors,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “These 28 new national recreation trails, established through partnerships with local communities and stakeholders, connect federal, state and local lands and waters to provide access to inexpensive, enjoyable outdoor activities for all Americans.”

“Today’s trails span 18 states and join a network of more than 1,200 previously designated trails that total more than 15,000 miles,” said Director of the National Park Service Jonathan B. Jarvis.
The national recreation trail designation recognizes existing trails and trail systems that link communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks across the nation. Communities and other partners supporting the establishment of the new national recreation trails receive a certificate of designation, a letter of congratulations from Secretary Jewell, and a set of national recreation trail markers.

See this article at:

UA’s Continuing Studies Sponsors Civil Rights Photo Exhibit
More than 20 photographs depicting the civil rights movement, including many never publicly viewed before, will be displayed June 3-14 at The University of Alabama’s Bryant Conference Center.

The free exhibit, compiled from the archives of The Birmingham News, is sponsored by the UA College of Continuing Studies, The Birmingham News and, and will travel the state for the remainder of the year, representatives said.

“These images depict one of the most important times in our nation’s history that occurred right here in our state, just 50 years ago,” said Dr. Carolyn Dahl, dean of the College of Continuing Studies. “They represent some of our state’s most courageous citizens during the times in which they lived and died. We are very proud to be associated with this powerful exhibit.”
According to organizers, some of the photos have never been published and were all but lost until and The Birmingham News began planning the 50th anniversary commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”

Images of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church, former Gov. George Wallace’s attempt to block the desegregation at The University of Alabama, students boycotting Birmingham restaurants, and foremost leaders of the civil rights movement are included.
Dahl said she hopes the public will take the opportunity to view the exhibit. “Today, the College of Continuing Studies is able to serve many different segments of people – from the military, to high school students, to our seniors in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute – in part, because of the doors opened by the courageous leaders of the civil rights movement,” she said. “We believe it will help people remember the struggles and sacrifices that led to a better Alabama and a greater nation.”

The exhibit is part of “Through the Doors,” a year-long series of activities and events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of UA in 1963 and honoring the courage and dedication of the two African American students who enrolled in the University on June 11, 1963 as well as the University’s ongoing commitment to change over the past 50 years and its commitment to continued progress in the future.

For more information, visit

Kitchen on George executive chef to represent Alabama Gulf Coast at NOAA fish fry in Washington
By Culinard, Jun. 4
Kitchen on George, a restaurant of Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College in Mobile, is proud to announce that Executive Chef Bradford Brodie has been selected by the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission (ASMC) to represent the Alabama Gulf Coast at the 38th Annual National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fish Fry. The event will be held on June 4, 2013 at the Main Commerce Building, officially called the Herbert H. Hoover Building, in Washington, D.C. where more than 1,200 people are expected to attend.

Brodie will prepare and serve more than 70 pounds of Gulf Coast Shrimp sourced from Southern Fish and Oyster in Mobile, Ala., which will be pan seared and served over creamy white corn polenta grits flavored with Alabama Belle Chevre goat cheese.

“Alabama Gulf Seafood is glad that Kitchen on George in Mobile and Chef Brodie could participate in the NOAA Fish Fry in Washington, D.C.,” said Chris Blankenship, director of the Alabama Marine Resource Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “There’s seafood from all the coasts in the country at this event, and I am sure that Chef Brodie and his dish, Gulf Coast Shrimp with Alabama Belle Chevre City Grits, will represent the state of Alabama and the Gulf Coast well.”

NOAA sponsors this annual event to promote and encourage local seafood consumption and industry. Guests of the Fish Fry include members of Congress and other federal agencies, as well as the general public.

Kitchen on George opened in late 2011 and received “Best New Restaurant” designation in 2012 from Mobile’s Lagniappe magazine. Another Culinard restaurant, Kitchen on Cary, is scheduled to open this month in Richmond, Va.

For the entire article, go to:

CD features Creating a diving reef
Submitted by editor, June 3
How long does it take to create a completely new tourism attraction?
A couple of years? Five years? A decade?

In Alabama in the US, They have achieved that in just under a year.
Alabama is not the first state that comes to mind amongst us when we think of visiting the US. How many of us even know that it borders the Gulf Of Mexico? In fact the state probably got most publicity over here during the clean-up after the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster which revealed to many of us for the first time that it was a tourist area. It attracts lots of Americans to its shores in the summer for its beaches, its fishing and because it appeals to families.

Last July, locals gathered together and set up the Alabama Gulf Coast Reef & Restoration Foundation, a non-profit organisation to raise the $500,000 needed to buy and sink a suitable vessel to create an artificial reef off the coastline. The purpose was to set up a new tourist attraction where scuba divers would come to see the fish and dive on the wreck. The US Coast Guard had already seized a Haitian ship that had broken US maritime laws and a local brought the ship to the area. In the event the foundation raised far more than the money required, everything was put in hand and the ship, re-named LuLu, was towed out and sunk just over a week ago.

Chandra Wright, a nature tourism specialist for GSOBT was one of the first to dive the new wreck. “It was a bit surreal diving a brand new shipwreck that was just sitting on the surface yesterday,” Wright remarked. “We were happy to see good visibility with The LuLu sitting upright and fish already checking out their new habitat. In the coming months, we expect algae and corals to start growing and smaller fish to move in. The smaller fish will bring in the larger fish, and The LuLu will soon be its own marine village.

There are other diving sites off Alabama which contain such unusual things like bridge rubble, tug boats and other structures, CSX boxcars, M-60 military tanks, and oil rigs and jetties which may make the state the place for divers to visit.

To see the article, go to:

Vote for Tuscaloosa in Benjamin Moore’s “Paint what matters” contest
Tuscaloosa is the only Alabama city in Benjamin Moore’s “Paint what matters” contest. If they win, Benjamin Moore Paints will help with a revitalization project on their “main street”. You may vote once a day until June 30.
To cast your vote, go to:

Alabama angler lands world record for landlocked striped bass
The Alabama Tourism Department News reported this catch soon after it happened, and now, it’s official.

On May 13, 2013, James Bramlett of Dora, Ala., received a highly anticipated call from the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). The World Records Coordinator of the IGFA, Jack Vitek, informed Bramlett that his state record, a 69-pound, 9-ounce landlocked striped bass, now holds the world record for that species.

According to Jason Schratwieser, IGFA Conservation Director, the organization was honored to acknowledge Bramlett for his catch. “The new record has generated a buzz among anglers around the world,” said Schratwieser.
Bramlett is surprised by the recognition, but is excited to see the attention cast on Alabama and its fishery. “I got the call at exactly 2:09 p.m., and I couldn’t be happier,” said Bramlett. “I’ve been fishing for a really long time and I’m glad it happened to me, but mostly for my state. This record is for all of us now.”

Bramlett hooked the goliath on February 28, 2013, in the Warrior River, while free-lining shad near the Gorgas Steam Plant. He first saw the fish chasing skipjack about a foot under the water shortly after 11 a.m. A skilled fisherman, Bramlett has caught several trophy striped bass and blue catfish on the Warrior River. He knew right away this fish was something special.

“I had been catching three to five-pound bass all morning, which is fairly common for February,” said Bramlett. “I had never dreamed of a stripe like that coming up. It had the skipjack flying out of the water.”

Bramlett cast his bait after watching the fish feed on the surface. It took only minutes for the striper to hit. Bramlett wrestled the giant for more than 20 minutes until finally hauling the fish into the boat. A river barge captain and his crew witnessed his catch.
“That bait clicker went off and it sounded like grandma’s sewing machine,” Bramlett said. “By the time I picked it up, it had taken at least 100-feet of line. I pulled back and I knew then I had a solid hook set.”

Bramlett’s striped bass shattered the Alabama state record by nearly 15 pounds and eclipsed the previous IGFA world record of 67-pound, 8-ounce, a record that stood for two decades. Bramlett’s catch has been mounted and will be on display temporarily at Sayre Auto Parts at 7192 Bankhead Hwy. in Dora.

Thousands attending seventh annual Preserve Jazz Festival in Hoover
by Martin J. Reed,, June 2
Whether diehard jazz fans or casual listeners, The Preserve Jazz Festival attracts crowds of all kinds.
“My husband and I have been coming for five years,” said Terry Beasley of Birmingham with her husband, Zachary. “He loves the openness, the atmosphere, the environment.”

Hoover’s Susan Sheedy with her husband, Scott, relaxed in a couple of chairs toward the back of the venue in the shade to enjoy the music.

“I read in the paper the founders of this always had a great selection of jazz, and he likes jazz and I like music,” she said. And if it was any hotter, we wouldn’t be out here, but it’s a gorgeous day.”
To read the entire article, go to:

Ron McConnell Promoted to VP of Convention Sales & Services at MBCVB
Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau (MBCVB) announces the appointment of long-time MBCVB staff member, Ron McConnell, to the position of Vice President of Convention Sales & Services. Ron joined the MBCVB in 1996, after serving in an executive capacity with Morrison’s Restaurants, Inc. for over 20 years. His efforts in developing our group tour, military, reunion and law enforcement segments have been instrumental in bringing a great amount of business to the Mobile area and our valued CVB partners over the years.

He will work closely with our team of experienced convention sales managers, as well as with our Marketing & Communications department, to position Mobile Bay as a top destination for meeting planners, tour operators and travel trade professionals.

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.

Nominations for the Tourism Awards are now open. Please use this link to nominate a tourism professional:
The last day for nominations is June 21.
For information and registration, go to:

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events
Aug 4-7 Alabama Motorcoach/Georgia Motorcoach Operators/South Central Motorcoach Association, Birmingham
Aug 17-21 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism – Huntsville, AL (Westin)
Sept 19 Alabama Mountain Lakes Annual Meeting

ATD is currently registering and planning for the following 2014 Consumer Shows:
Cincinnati Boat and Travel Show – Jan 17-19 & January 22-26, 2014
Louisville Boat Show – Jan 22-26, 2014
Indianapolis Boat and RV Show – Feb 14-23, 2014
Nashville Southern Women’s Show – Mar 27-30, 2014
If you are interested in working in the Alabama Tourism Department’s booth, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or