Second annual Alabama Restaurant Week a success
• Birmingham among Fodor’s top 14 places in the world to visit this fall
• The History Channel Magazine features the Birmingham Children’s March and Mobile Trip Giveaway
• Muscle Shoals culture celebrated at Fifth Annual ‘Shindig’
• Legislature decrees winners in fiddle, banjo, other categories at Fiddlers Convention to get ‘state champion’ title
• Civil War re-enactors will help celebrate birthday of Gen. Joe Wheeler
• Dauphin Island and National Shrimp Festival featured on UK website
• Rooms with a view in Alabama
• Diamonds, bagpipes, armor: oh, the things you can see when Unclaimed Baggage lets public open luggage
• Groundbreaking Sept. 11 for restoration on cook’s house at Oakleigh Mansion
• Tree carvings a natural delight
• Registration for Travel South Domestic Showcase is now open
• Travel South International sold out
• Sign-up for International Showcase in Nashville
• Alabama Tourism Department staff on the move
• Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Second annual Alabama Restaurant Week a success
Restaurant participation up thirty percent, viewership to website up sixty percent

Both the public and the restaurants showed overwhelming support for the second year of Alabama Restaurant Week. Alabama Restaurant Week is an Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) marketing event that started in 2012 as part of The Year of Alabama Food campaign. The culinary promotion united Alabama’s diverse range of cuisine during a ten-day date span.
The number of restaurants participating this year grew from 200 to 261, an increase of 30%. Forty-three of the 261 participating restaurants also were part of Birmingham Restaurant Week which was in its fourth year.

The response with the public was tremendous. A Google Analytics reports shows overwhelming success for the Second Annual Alabama Restaurant Week promotion. The report for for the month of August 2013 reports 20,868 visits with 169,422 page views, an increase of 60% in both visitors and page views from the previous year. The peak visitation was the first day of this year’s promotion, Aug. 16.

Visitors to the website could look up participating restaurants by county, city or see a list of all.
Top county searchers in order were Madison (8,952 page views), Baldwin (7,228), Montgomery (5,014), Jefferson (4,695), Mobile (3,620), and Tuscaloosa (2,447).
Top city searches in order were Birmingham (2,803), Huntsville (2,734), Montgomery (1,458), Mobile (864), Hoover (844), Homewood (649), Tuscaloosa (580), Madison (524), Gulf Shores (353) and Decatur (335).

Forty percent of the viewers to were using a mobile device.

Alabama’s Martie Duncan, a finalist on the hit show Food Network Star, visited several of the participating restaurants for ATD and posted Facebook reports.
Grey Brennan of the Alabama Tourism Department was coordinator the promotion. Other staff members working with Brennan were Brian Jones and JoJo Terry.

Birmingham among Fodor’s top 14 places in the world to visit this fall
by Michael Tomberlin,, Aug. 29

Birmingham joins Paris, Chicago, Hong Kong, Mexico City and Munich as places a popular travel guide said travelers should visit this fall.

Fodor’s had Birmingham among five U.S. cities on its list of “14 Best Places to Go This Fall,” joining Miami, Chicago and two Portlands (Maine and Oregon).
The 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement milestones in the Magic City were among the reasons for Birmingham making the list. From Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to next week’s Jazz Festival and Civil Rights Film Festival were cited along with photographer Dawoud Bey’s exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art dedicated to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

Fodor’s encourages visitors to stay at the new Westin hotel at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex and dine at the Todd English P.U.B. at the Uptown entertainment district.

Todd English P.U.B. restaurant and bar in the BJCC’™s new entertainment district, Uptown, is mentioned by Fodor’s list of places to visit this fall in Birmingham. (Tamika Moore |

“Reflect on the city’s legacy at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve,” the Fodor’s list said of Birmingham. “With more than 1,000 acres of greenery, it is one of the largest urban parks in the country. The summit of the Red Mountain overpass has broad views of downtown Birmingham.”

Guiding tourists here this fall is something Birmingham Mayor William Bell said he can get onboard with.
“We are excited to be included in this list as one of only five U.S. cities,” Bell said in a release. “We want the world to know that Birmingham is ready to welcome visitors from around the world as we commemorate 50YearsForward.”

Tourism plays a major role in economic development efforts, Fred McCallum chief executive of AT&T Alabama and chairman of the Birmingham Business Alliance, said.
“I have several Fodor’s guidebooks on my bookshelf from the many years I’ve been traveling,” McCallum said in a BBA release. “This is significant that it has chosen Birmingham as a top destination in the world.”

Jim Smither, president of the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, agreed.
“Fodor’s is one of the most well-respected travel guides in the world,” he said. “Birmingham being one of its top 14 destinations in the world is an extraordinary recognition.”

Al Denson, chief executive of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, hopes the nod from Fodor’s will drive traffic there.
“Birmingham being named a fall destination in Fodor’s is a very positive signal of all the great synergy in our wonderful city,” Denson said. We are “the front porch to a resilient city and community. We look forward to welcoming our guests with a new facility, great local flavors and Southern Hospitality.”

The History Channel Magazine features the Birmingham Children’s March and Mobile Trip Giveaway

The issue of The History Channel Magazine that will soon be in newsstands and delivered to subscribers includes an in depth story titled Children for the CAUSE.

The article by Nick Patterson opens with the statement in large type under a double page historic photograph of children marching in Birmingham with the words, “Despite the misgivings of major Civil Rights leaders, thousands of children took to the front lines to protest segregation in Birmingham, Ala. Their actions, and the harrowing images they produced, were a catalyst for change in America.”

Patterson, a veteran writer and editor whose work includes articles and books on the Civil Rights Movement opening paragraph reads, “In the year 1212, thousands of European children were said to have marched to the Mediterranean Sea on an ill-fated mission known as the Children’s Crusade to peacefully convert Muslims to Christianity (though historians now believe the event has been embellished over time). Centuries later, in 1963, the term was applied to a very different, very real and very successful crusade-thousands of mostly African-American children peacefully protesting segregation in Birmingham, Ala., helping to change the course of a movement that altered America forever.”

The story includes information on Martin Luther King Jr.’s arrest in Birmingham, “…on Good Friday, April 12, King, (Rev. Fred L) Shuttlesworth and Rev. Ralph Abernathy, an Alabama-born minister and close King associate, were arrested. King wrote his famous defense of civil protest, “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” during his incarceration.”

Patterson’s story is one of only three in depth six-page stories in the September/October 2013 issue of the magazine.

The magazine is also promoting a trip to Mobile, Alabama in the same issue. The promotion giveaway includes a stay at The Renaissance Battle House Hotel & Spa, a member of the historic hotels of America, tours of Bellingrath Gardens, the Mobile Carnival Museum, the Hank Aaron Childhood Home, the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Alligator Alley and a Five Rivers Delta Safari adventure.

Muscle Shoals culture celebrated at Fifth Annual ‘Shindig’
The Civil Wars’ John Paul White, J.D. McPherson and others join fashion designer Billy Reid
by Adam Gold, Rolling Stone Music, Aug. 27

On Saturday morning, during a panel discussion titled Telling Stories in the Modern South, fashion designer Billy Reid blushed as he noted a rather surprising statistic – that Alabama has the third most members of the Council for Fashion Designers of America, ranking right after New York and Los Angeles. Speaking in a small but packed event space in downtown Florence, just outside Muscle Shoals, Reid’s statement proved quite an applause line to townspeople in the room. But such a display of local pride might be uncommon in the region. Florence native and fellow panelist John Paul White of the Civil Wars, whose band had the Number One album on Billboard earlier this month, offered a theory.

“We’re taught as Southern[ers] – especially Southern men – that you don’t get above your raisin’,” he explained. “If you ever elevated your status where I was from, that’s who got bullied.”

The talk was part of Reid’s fifth annual Shindig in the Shoals, a hot August weekend of events the designer hosts in his adopted hometown of Florence, to showcase the best the swampy Southern oasis has to offer in the arenas of art, music, food and fashion. It’s a celebration of contemporary below-Mason-Dixon culture that draws on the region’s roots for inspiration.

This year the event boasted musical performances by rockabilly revivalist J.D. McPherson, neo-trad-country duo the Secret Sisters and greasy R&B throwback ensemble St. Paul and the Broken Bones, among others, along with slow-cooked grub from a few of the region’s best chefs and a sold-out, hometown screening of director Greg “Freddy” Camalier’s epic documentary Muscle Shoals, which debuted at Sundance earlier this year and tells the story behind ‘Bama’s legendary Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound studios.
Watch the Muscle Shoals Documentary Trailer.

To read the entire article, go to:

Legislature decrees winners in fiddle, banjo, other categories at Fiddlers Convention to get ‘state champion’ title
by Kelly Kazek,, Aug. 31

Winners in a variety of music competitions at the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention each year will earn the title “State Champion” in that division, a spokesman said.

The Fiddlers Convention, held each October on the campus of Athens State University (ASU), has been named the home to Alabama State Champions for harmonica, bluegrass banjo, dulcimer, old-time banjo, classic old-time fiddling, buck dancing, mandolin, dobro, old-time singing, finger-picking guitar, flat-picking guitar, bluegrass band and old-time bluegrass band, ASU spokesman Guy McClure said.

The Alabama Legislature resolved, with both houses concurring, to make the Fiddlers Convention the official home of those 13 categories.
“As a result, the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention will now be the home to those championships annually and the winners in those categories shall for that year be known as the Alabama State Champions, respectively,” McClure said. The joint house resolution was sponsored by Rep. Dan Williams, R-Athens.

Rick Mould, chairman of the event and vice president of advancement at ASU, said university officials are proud of the decree.
“With the upcoming Fiddlers Convention being our 47th, this distinction is appropriate given our longevity and popularity,” he said.
As many as 15,000 people attend the annual convention and some 200 contestants compete for prize money in 18 categories.
This year’s convention will be Oct. 4 and 5.

Civil War re-enactors will help celebrate birthday of Gen. Joe Wheeler
by Kelly Kazek,, Aug. 30

Civil War re-enactors will help celebrate Gen. Joe Wheeler’s birthday Sept. 7 at Pond Spring, the Lawrence County home where he once lived.
The free celebration hosted by the Alabama Historical Commission is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is a fee for guided tours of the house that run every hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At the event, visitors can sample cake made from a family recipe said to be the general’s favorite.

Re-enactors will fire a working Civil War cannon and folk artists will demonstrate their skills. The Olde Towne Brass Band will play on the front porch of the house from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. The LifeSouth Community Blood Center will also hold a blood drive.
Pond Spring is located three miles east of Courtland at 122280 Alabama Highway 20. For more information, call 256-637-8513 or email
Wheeler was born Sept. 10, 1836.

Dauphin Island and National Shrimp Festival featured on UK website

The Deep South USA website for August showcased Alabama’s Sunset Capital, Dauphin Island. Also promoted on the email that is sent to tour operators and public in the United Kingdom is the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores.

To see a website version of the e-newsletter, go to

Rooms with a view in Alabama
by Tamara Ikenberg,, August 2013

The August 27 edition of the Alabama Tourism News contained an article about skydining in Muscle Shoals, by Tamara Ikenberg with As it turns out, that was number 6 in a series of ten Room with a view in Alabama articles. To enjoy all ten of the articles, go to the following links.

Diamonds, bagpipes, armor: oh, the things you can see when Unclaimed Baggage lets public open luggage
by Kelly Kazek,, Aug. 30

Visitors to the Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC) in Scottsboro can now help unpack some of the lost luggage and decide where its contents go.

The store, featured on dozens of television shows, now offers the “Baggage Experience,” in which visitors are selected daily to help unpack a piece of luggage, viewing the contents and choosing whether the item will be donated, discarded or sorted, cleaned and priced for the retail store.

Unclaimed Baggage purchases luggage from airlines and sells its contents at its 40,000-square-foot retail store only after a 90-day search for the owners has been conducted. Some of the more unusual items found in the luggage include a full suit of armor made in the 19th century, a 5.7-carat diamond ring, a live rattlesnake, an etched headstone and a set of bagpipes.

“UBC sorts, cleans, refurbishes and prices over 1 million unclaimed items each year,” a press release from the store said.

The store, which has been open 40 years, encompasses an entire city block in Scottsboro.
“If you haven’t been to the Unclaimed Baggage Center lately, you will be surprised,” said Brenda Cantrell of Unclaimed Baggage. “With over 7,000 new items stocked daily, new events and specials, as well as a daily UBC Baggage Experience, Unclaimed Baggage Center is the perfect Labor Day weekend destination.”

At Unclaimed Baggage, shoppers might find anything from clothing, electronics and sporting goods to computer equipment, accessories and fine jewelry.

Groundbreaking Sept. 11 for restoration on cook’s house at Oakleigh Mansion
by David Holloway,, Sept. 3

Groundbreaking for The Cook’s House restoration project at Oakleigh Historic Mansion will be held at 10 a.m. Sept. 11.

The ceremony marks the beginning of work on the historic outbuilding; a fund-raising effort has netted $167,000 toward the building’s restoration. The goal for the restoration is $225,000 and donations for the work are still being accepted.
The Cook’s Cottage is one of the last remaining detached kitchens and servant living quarters in the region. It is situated at the rear of the historic mansion, Mobile’s official period house and museum at 350 Oakleigh Place near downtown Mobile.

The house dates to the late 1860s, according to Rhonda Davis, the executive director for the Historic Mobile Preservation Society which is sponsoring the work. “Once the Cook’s House is restored, this modest cottage will open as Mobile’s first African-American period house museum, celebrating the post-Emancipation life experience in Mobile,” she said in a news release announcing the ceremony.

She added that the Cook’s House will be used by volunteers and staff to help tell the stories of the Gaither family who worked at the cottage for decades, she added.
“This unique restoration project opens the door to a broader visitor experience at Oakleigh and will allow us to offer hands-on experiences for children,” Davis said.

To see the article, go to:
For information on the Cook’s House Restoration Project, visit:

Tree carvings a natural delight
by Terry E. Manning, The Montgomery Advertiser, Aug. 31

Shoal Creek rolls quietly through this park, the calm of a recent Sunday afternoon interrupted only by the sounds of children playing in the distance, the gurgle of a nearby fountain, and the occasional attention of curious insects.

Even Mother Nature is observing this Sabbath. The heat and humidity that’s plagued much of the summer is replaced on this day by more moderate temperatures and the occasional cooling breeze. Orr Park, in downtown Montevallo, is a scenic idyll. Then you notice the faces. There’s a bearded gentleman, his face straining with effort as he tries to breach the trunk of a nearby cedar. And there, two others with matching beards, on separate trees.

One seems to be cautioning against his partner’s unflinching glares at passersby.
Just ahead is a large fish swallowing a serpent. In the distance a giant squirrel perches atop a tree stump. And there … a sword-wielding dragon?

They are just a few residents of Tinglewood, a collection of tree carvings that make Orr Park a must-see destination for art lovers looking for an easy day trip.
According to the web site,, the collection originated after a 1993 storm. Artist Tim Tingle offered to salvage damaged, dead or dying trees by turning them into pieces of art. The collection comprises 30 carvings, from tributes to fallen soldiers to animal totems to faces of medieval knights.

The park also includes playground areas, baseball and softball fields, a football field, a walking trail and at least one gazebo that is a popular destination for weddings and outdoor portrait photographers.

A wooden walkway spans Shoal Creek in one end of the park, while a stone bridge a hundred yards upstream offers easy access to those who would like to cool off by rolling up their pants cuffs and wading into the clear waters underneath.
The park is only a block from the town’s Main Street and is open during regular daytime hours.

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.

Please do not hesitate, sign-up today:

Travel South International Showcase – sold out

Registration has been so strong for the Travel South International Showcase in Nashville, Dec. 3-5, 2013, that the show is now at “sold out” status. All supplier booth spaces have been sold and as of Sept. 4, anyone requesting a booth will automatically go on a wait list.

More than thirty Alabama tourism industry experts will attend the showcase. Areas being represented include Florence/Muscle Shoals, Huntsville, Birmingham, Gadsden/Ft Payne, Tuscaloosa, Phenix City, Montgomery, Mobile, Gulf Shores/Orange Beach and the Alabama Tourism Department.

The Alabama delegation will present Alabama as a tourism destination to more than sixty tour operators from around the world during the three day marketing event.

This is only the second year for the regional show in which southern tourism destination marketing organizations, attractions, hotels and state departments of tourism have scheduled appointments with tour companies from around the world.

For more information on Travel South Showcase, go to or call David Kemp at 404-231-1790. For information on Alabama’s international tourism efforts, contact Grey Brennan at 334-242-4459,

Alabama Tourism Department staff on the move
Rosemary Judkins, ATD Group Travel Sales Manager attended the Student Youth Travel Association (SYTA) Annual Conference held in Los Angeles, Aug. 23-27. Judkins promoted Alabama as an education destination and met with several student tour operators.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events
Sept. 19-Alabama Mountain Lakes Annual Meeting
Dec. 3-6-International Showcase, Nashville
Feb. 23-26, 2014-Domestic Showcase, Charleston, WV

ATD is currently registering and planning for the following 2014 Consumer Shows:
Cincinnati Boat and Travel Show – Jan. 17-19 & Jan. 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

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: