• Barber Motorsports stars in new Xbox game commercial
• U.S. Space & Rocket Center joins Smithsonian magazine’s ninth annual Museum Day Live!
• Big week at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
• Auburn University’s Samford Hall on Broadway
• Auburn University’s Rural Studo’s $20,000 home featured in Time Magazine
• Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge celebrates 75th Anniversary
• EarlyWorks Museum Complex named Organization of the Year
• Alabama Tourism Department hosts Tourism Workshop in October
• Registration for Travel South Domestic Showcase is open
• Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Barber Motorsports stars in new Xbox game commercial
by Stan Diel,, Sept. 20
Microsoft kicked the marketing campaign for its newest Xbox driving game into high gear with a stunning video shot at Birmingham’s Barber Motorsports Park. Producers used the track to build what they call the world’s biggest “zoetrope,” which is a cylindrical version of a flip book.
Individual frames of video from the game Forza Motorsports 5 were placed around the track, and Top Gear host Tanner Foust was tapped to drive the circuit in a McLaren MP4-12C at speeds of up to 120 mph. A video camera mounted on the supercar shot footage as the car flew past the signs, making the images, each slightly different than the one before, appear to move.

Foust told the BBC that it took painstaking effort to get the complex plan to work. “This was the sort of cocktail napkin idea that never comes to pass because it’s incredibly involved,” he said. “And it would have been very easy to do it in CGI, but we did (it) 100 percent for real and it’s very, very cool.”

Don Erwin, vice president for corporate development at Barber Cos., said the decision to make the commercial at Barber was a win for the city. “We feel honored that they could have filmed this anywhere in the world, but chose to do it in Birmingham, Alabama,” Erwin said.
The game is scheduled for release Nov. 22.

To see the video, go to:

U.S. Space & Rocket Center joins Smithsonian magazine’s ninth annual Museum Day Live!
Free Admission for all participants presenting a “Museum Day Live!” ticket on Sept. 28. Fun for the entire family to visit the Red Bull Stratos exhibit and Black Holes

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center will open its doors free of charge on Saturday September 28, 2013, as part of Smithsonian magazine’s ninth annual Museum Day Live! A nationwide event, Museum Day Live! offers free admission to visitors presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket at a participating museum or cultural institution.

Inclusive by design, the event represents Smithsonian’s commitment to make learning and the spread of knowledge accessible to everyone, giving museums across all 50 states the opportunity to emulate the admission policy of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. Last year’s event drew over 400,000 participants, and this year’s event expects record-high participation.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center offers more than 1,500 artifacts and is one of the most inspirational facilities when it comes to telling the story of America’s Space program. For more than 40 years, millions have visited the museum to see the permanent rocket displays and experience world-class traveling exhibits. Currently, guests can enjoy the world-famous Red Bull Stratos exhibit, on display through Sept. 30. This dynamic exhibit is traveling to only five locations around the world and this is your opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with the capsule that took Felix Baumgartner to the edge of space.

The Museum Day Live! ticket is now available for download at Visitors who present the Museum Day Live! ticket will gain free entrance for two at participating venues for one day only. One ticket is permitted per household, per email address. For more information about Museum Day Live! 2013 and a list of participating museums and cultural institutions, please visit

Big week at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
The only three remaining Flying Tigers will be in Huntsville to visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The Flying Tigers were a group of American officers/pilots who volunteered to fly for China in World War II. There were only 100 of these pilots and three are still alive. They will be visiting the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville this Fri., Sept. 27, to discuss their life’s mission. “We are certainly honored to have these true world heroes,” stated Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. “This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime event for these individuals to be visiting our campus and speaking to the general public. They will discuss their missions this Friday in the Space Center’s 3-D Theater at 3:00 pm. Enjoy spellbinding tales of bravery from the AVG Flying Tigers. This is a free event.

Also this week, USS&RC is hosting 190 visually impaired students from all over the United States at Space Camp. This is a very powerful, impactive week for everyone who works at the U.S. Space & rocket Center and in the lives of these young people. Dozens of chaperones have travelled with them from around the country to spend the week here.

Auburn University’s Samford Hall on Broadway

Julian Crouch has never been to Auburn, but you’d never know it from his set design for the new Broadway musical “Big Fish.”

The British designer, who directed and designed “The Addams Family” on Broadway among other theater, film and ballet projects, has created an authentic-looking Samford Hall and Auburn University sign for Act I of the show, based on Birmingham native Daniel Wallace’s book.

To read the entire article and see video and a rendering on the set, go to:

Auburn University’s Rural Studo’s $20,000 home featured in Time Magazine
Lessons from the rugged frontier of low-cost design where a house comes cheaper than a car
by Belinda Luscombe, Time Magazine, Sept. 30
For most people, architects and inexpensive home design go together like gourmet chefs and Hot Pockets–neither is the better for it. Then again, most people have not been to Hale County, Alabama. In this wet western part of the state, architects, students and volunteers have been perfecting the art of deeply discounted domestic design for 20 years.

The Rural Studio, an arm of Auburn University’s architecture department, has designed and built many pieces of local infrastructure–churches, libraries, Boys & Girls Clubs, even farmers’-market stalls–often using unusual materials, including carpet tiles and hay bales.

To read the entire article, go to:,9171,2152411,00.html#ixzz2fkUZt1dA

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge celebrates 75th Anniversary
a day filled with nature hikes, programs, and games
Seventy-five years ago, the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge was established, and today serves as a home to some of the United States’ most precious wildlife resources. Set for Oct. 5, a birthday celebration is planned to commemorate the establishment of the refuge and to highlight the refuges’ history and success as a natural resource management demonstration project. Hosted by the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association, the 75th Anniversary Celebration will include guided bird-watching field trips and nature hikes, children’s nature programs, bird banding, arrowhead making, lasershot games, hot air balloon tethered rides, archery, and hay rides.

Larry and Cheryl Battson, founders of Wildlife Educational Services will present their live wildlife program in three scheduled programs. They have worked with Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and their animals have appeared on television programs such as The Tonight Show, Oprah, and the Today Show.

The Teddy Roosevelt Show, featuring Joe Wiegand, entertains audiences nationwide with a reprisal of President Theodore Roosevelt (T.R.). As a one-man theater show, Joe’s T.R. shares stories full of adventure, laughter, and inspiration.

Exhibitors including Alabama Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, TVA, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Natural Resource and Conservation Service, Alabama’s Mountains, Rivers and Valleys Resource conservation and Development Council, and the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association also will be on hand to share information. All activities and programs are free to the public.

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938 by Executive Order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as an experiment to determine the possibility and feasibility of attracting migratory birds onto a multipurpose impoundment. Soon after, ducks began wintering on the refuge and the project was deemed a success. Today, the refuge hosts over 600,000 visitors annually who come to fish, hunt, and observe wildlife in its natural setting. Covering 35,000 acres, it attracts thousands of wintering waterfowl each year and is home to Alabama’s largest wintering duck population. The Refuge also supports the state’s largest concentration of Sandhill Cranes.

For more information on Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, visit
The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is located at 3121 Visitor Center Road in Decatur.
For more information on the 75th Anniversary Celebration, visit

EarlyWorks Museum Complex named Organization of the Year
The Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA) has honored the EarlyWorks Family of Museums with the 2013 Organization of the Year award. The award is among 10 that comprise the PEAK Awards that were presented on Sept. 19 during the AMLA Annual Meeting at the Huntsville Marriott in Huntsville.

Representing the highest achievement in North Alabama tourism, the annual PEAK Awards honor individuals and organizations that have had a major impact on tourism in the 16 northernmost counties of Alabama. The Organization of the Year award is presented to the AMLA member organization that has contributed significantly to the betterment and development of tourism in North Alabama in the past year.

The largest hands-on history museum in the South, the EarlyWorks Family of Museums comprises Alabama Constitution Village, the Huntsville Depot and Museum, and the EarlyWorks Children’s History Museum. The complex of museums educates, informs, and entertains approximately 150,000 visitors annually, and throughout the years has been a continual leader in supporting historical content and its application. Staff members, led by Executive Director Bart Williams, have maintained a high level of consistency in managing the facilities and have upheld extremely high standards as they relate to customer service. They have also managed themselves through the difficult economic downturn in recent years by maintaining financial support for their facilities through grants, private supporters, and by hosting community events such as Santa’s Village and WhistleStop Weekend.

“The PEAK Awards recognize the best of North Alabama’s tourism and travel industry, and this year’s nominees and winners have all done an exemplary job in delivering an exceptional visitor experience,” said Tami Reist, President/CEO of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. “It is important we take the time to celebrate the achievements of our local tourism leaders, attractions, festivals, and front-line workers who all work tirelessly to make North Alabama a must visit destination.”

The full list of awards and winners is as follows:
Organization of the Year – EarlyWorks Family of Museums; Event of the Year – Boom Days Heritage Celebration; Attraction of the Year – Spring Valley Beach Water Park; Good Neighbor Award – Cullman City Parks and Recreation; Northern Star Award – Jeremy Reed, Courtyard by Marriott; Young Professional of the Year Award – Kayla Worthy, DeKalb Tourism; Tourism Professional of the Year – Judy Ryals, Huntsville/Madison County CVB; Lasting Impression Award – Tom Hendrix, Florence and Tigers for Tomorrow; Chairman’s Cup – Gloria and Jamie Cooper, ZTV-11; President’s Award – Beverly Stallings, Fort Payne

Alabama Tourism Department hosts Tourism Workshop in October
The Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) will host a Tourism Workshop on Wed., Oct. 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Johnson Center for the Arts, located at 300 E. Walnut St. in Troy. This workshop event is for tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in their area. Come learn about the many programs and services the ATD offers.
Lunch, sponsored by the Alabama Tourism Department, will be provided.

To register or if you have questions or need additional information please contact Rosemary Judkins at Rosemary.Judkins@Tourism.Alabama.Gov or 334-242-4493.

Registration for Travel South Domestic Showcase is open
Travel South Domestic Showcase is scheduled for Feb. 23-26, 2014 in Charleston, WV. Travel South Showcase is the only regional Marketplace focused solely on the cultural, musical, artistic and culinary heritage of the south.

For registration information:

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events
Oct. 16 ATD Tourism Workshop
Dec. 3-6 International Showcase, Nashville
Feb. 23-26, 2014 Travel South Domestic Showcase, Charleston, WV
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: