• Alabama State Parks Celebrate 75 Years of Service in 2014
  • Bob Baumhower teams with Alabama State Parks on shrimp and BBQ cookouts across the state
  • New season of CMT show filmed in Alabama premiers Friday
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Sayre, and Montgomery in 2013
  • John Dersham given STS award
  • Conservation with Lucy “Lulu” Buffett in Southern Hospitality Traveler
  • The 2013 Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat is set for Nov. 17-19
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events



Alabama State Parks Celebrate 75 Years of Service in 2014

From the beaches of the Gulf Coast to the Appalachian foothills, Alabama State Parks reflect every facet of the state’s rich natural landscape and in 2014 the state’s park system will celebrate a milestone — its 75th anniversary. Throughout the year, Alabama’s 22 state parks will host a variety of hikes, nature walks and programs, dining and camping specials and various other events highlighting 75 years of service to the people of Alabama.

“Alabama State Parks recently launched a public relations campaign acknowledging the many partners we have in our parks,” said Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks Director. “We hope the 75th anniversary celebration will strengthen our connection with all the visitors and other partners who make these parks possible. Alabama’s park system exists thanks to their support and we need it now more than ever.”

The acquisition of land for public use has deep roots. The National Forest System began in 1891. In 1916, the National Park Service was established to oversee a growing network of parks that included icons such as Yellowstone, Yosemite and Sequoia National Park.

Alabama’s park system began in the 1920s with Cheaha State Park being the longest continually operating facility. There were 11 state parks in Alabama by 1933 including Bromley, Cheaha, Fort Toulouse, Geneva, Little River, Panther Creek, St. Stephens, Sumter, Talladega County, The Lagoons and Weogufka. Many of the original park structures and infrastructure were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) and can still be seen when visiting a modern Alabama State Park. The Division of State Parks, Monuments, and Historic Sites was created to oversee management of the park system in 1939.

See more information about the Alabama State Parks 75th Anniversary Celebration at during the coming months.


Bob Baumhower teams with Alabama State Parks on shrimp and BBQ cookouts across the state

by Dennis Pillion,, Nov. 7

Football legend and restaurateur Bob Baumhower is teaming up with the Alabama State Parks system on a six-event series called Baumhower’s ShrimpFest and Barbecue, taking place at five state parks over the course of the next year. The events will be part of the celebration marking the 75th anniversary of the Alabama State Parks system.

The first ShrimpFest will be held at 3 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 22, at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham and will feature Alabama Gulf Coast shrimp, barbecue and more. The only admission charge for these events is the entrance fees to the park.

Since the event takes place a mere eight days before the Iron Bowl clash between Alabama and Auburn, Baumhower (himself a former Crimson Tide player) said he’s gotten some former players from each side to attend, including Alabama’s Tyrone Prothro and Auburn’s Tom Banks.

“It’s a good example of how business and government and everything in between can kind of come together and do something that’s good for everybody concerned,” Baumhower said at a press conference today at Gulf State Park. “I’ve always been a fan of the state park system, and we decided it would be a great idea to promote our park system through doing some shrimp boils and good, old-fashioned barbecues and having them on-site at the amazing facilities we have throughout the state.”

State Parks Director Greg Lein said Baumhower, as the lead sponsor, is picking up the cost of the food and handling most of the planning for the events.

“We’re lucky that we’ve got a partner like Bob Baumhower,” Lein said. “He’s done shrimp boils on his own for years, so we’ve got a partner who not only has great name recognition, but he also knows what he’s doing when it comes to throwing parties like these.

“Our parks are hosting the events, but he and his people are really doing most of the work.”

The series will pick back up in 2014, with events at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Lake Point State Park in Eufaula, Lake Guntersville State Park in Guntersville, Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville and another event at Oak Mountain.

No dates have been set for the 2014 events, although organizers said they planned for the Gulf State Park event to kick off the series sometime in March.


New season of CMT show filmed in Alabama premiers Friday
CMT’s popular dating reality series “Sweet Home Alabama” filmed in Fairhope is back for an all-new, ten-episode season. This season, eleven city slickers and eleven country guys will live together in a house in Fairhope while vying for the attention and affection of Tuscaloosa native Kelsey Smith. In each one-hour episode, Kelsey will say goodbye to more of her suitors as she searches for her one true love. Season Four of “Sweet Home Alabama” premieres Friday, Nov. 15 at 9/8c.

Bob’s Victory Grill restaurant on McFarland Blvd. in Tuscaloosa will host a premiere viewing party with star Kelsey Smith on Friday night. Smith will be available to greet and sign autographs.

For more information on “Sweet Home Alabama” please see


F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Sayre, and Montgomery in 2013

by Anne Margaret Daniel, Huffpost Arts & Culture, Nov. 13

I hadn’t been to Montgomery, Alabama since the summer of 1996, when I took Amtrak’s sweet old southbound, The Crescent, down from Washington, DC. The F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, on Felder Avenue in a house where Scott, Zelda and Scottie lived in 1931 and 1932, drew me there; I was a graduate student then, writing about Scott for what would turn into a keynote address for the Fitzgerald Centenary Conference at Princeton University that fall. Ten years before, in 1986, the house was to be torn down, but Julian and Leslie McPhillips saved the Fitzgeralds’ old home from demolition and founded the only museum in the world dedicated to Scott and Zelda’s lives and works. The town was quiet and beautiful, the museum evocative and full of items from books Scott inscribed for Zelda’s father to Zelda’s color-filled Modern paintings, and the McPhillipses were most gracious hosts. I vowed someday I’d come back and stay longer.

Nearly twenty years later, Scott and Zelda brought me back again – as the 12th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference met in Montgomery last week. I joined close to 200 Fitzgerald scholars, admirers, students, readers, and teachers from all over the world.  The Fitzgerald Society, sponsors of the Review and of the Fitzgerald conferences, has convened biennially over the past three decades in sites significant to the Fitzgeralds: Baltimore, Nice, Princeton, and now Zelda’s hometown, where the young couple first met in the summer of 1918.

Scott was a young army lieutenant then, stationed at Camp Sheridan, just outside Montgomery. He was waiting on his orders to go to war in France, and, while he waited, writing a novel based on his just-past college days at Princeton. Scribner’s rejected his first drafts of “The Romantic Egotist,” but accepted a rewritten version, under the title “This Side of Paradise,” a year later. During that year, he and Zelda had fallen in love, gotten engaged, and she had broken off the engagement despite Scott’s frequent and sometimes frantic visits to Montgomery. She soon relented, and they married in New York in 1920.

Zelda Sayre had just graduated from Sydney Lanier High School in the spring of 1918. She was a playful, smart, sassy Southern belle, the youngest child of an Alabama Supreme Court judge and his beautiful wife, who was an artist, poet, and — in the terms of her times — viewed as eccentric. At an afternoon tea at Winter Place, a mansion just up the street from her family’s house at 6 Pleasant Avenue, Zelda and Scott most likely saw each other for the first time: according to Joseph Winter Thorington, his aunt formally introduced the two.

Zelda would conjure up that first vision of Scott in the novel she wrote in Montgomery on Felder Avenue, Save Me The Waltz (1932):

I was glad to give my paper on Scott and Zelda in Hollywood at the Fitzgerald Conference last week. It was a pleasure to see so many people there, old friends and new acquaintances and students soon to be professors, and to learn much from the panels and sessions I attended. I was gladder still to have traveled back to Montgomery after many years, and found so much there, old remaining ever new.

To read the entire article, go to:


John Dersham given STS award

The Southeast Tourism Society, which promotes travel in a 12-state region, presented 11 other Shining Example Awards as part of its 30th anniversary celebration in Jacksonville on Nov. 5.

John Dersham, executive director of DeKalb County Tourism in Alabama, received the Rising Star Award given to a tourism professional with fewer than five years in the industry.


Conservation with Lucy “Lulu” Buffett in Southern Hospitality Traveler
by Apryl Chapman Thomas, Southern Hospitality Traveler, fall 2013

When asked what three adjectives she would use to describe herself, Lucy Buffett did not hesitate as she answered with,  “driven, high strung and very unpredictable.”
“I love life,” she adds. “I’m very enthusiastic about life.”

It’s those qualities that have led Jimmy Buffett’s little sister to establish herself as one of Alabama’s culinary ambassadors.

Her journey to this point began with Lulu’s Sunset Grill on Weeks Bay in Fairhope, Ala.

Returning home from Los Angeles to be closer to her aging parents, Buffett needed to get a job. Realizing she was either over-qualified or under-qualified for available positions, she decided to think outside of the box and open a restaurant. (It wasn’t too much of a jump to her, since had been a professional caterer and had a reputation for being a great cook and entertainer.) She describes Lulu’s Sunset Grill as a “high-class dive on the water, where you could enjoy a beer, cheeseburger or seafood.” Her menus were ready as well as the brand new kitchen.

But things didn’t go as planned.

She recalls how her first chef didn’t show up on the first day; and well, the customers, many on vacation, wanted southern style Gulf Coast seafood. With a few adjustments, the small seafood dive was managing well, but in the middle of the fourth year, the lease was up. It was time to make a decision. It was time to Buffett to move on and up.

And move up she did; and she packed up restaurant with her and loaded it on a barge to Gulf Shore where she opened the 500-seat Lulu’s at Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores, Ala. Nearly 15 years later, Buffett is still in awe.

To read the entire article, go to:


The 2013 Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat is set for Nov. 17 – 19

The Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat is set for Nov. 17 – 19, in Orange Beach.  The retreat continues to be a unique opportunity to update the Welcome Center staff on organizations, attractions, accommodations and special events.  The host hotel is the Hampton Inn & Suites Orange Beach.

For registration, costs, and additional information please contact:

Betty Wood, with the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, 251-968-9319 or e-mail


Frances Smiley, Alabama Tourism Department, Welcome Center Supervisor, 334-202-2908 or e-mail:


Alabama Tourism Department upcoming events

Nov. 17 – 19               Welcome Center Retreat, Gulf Shores

Dec. 12                          Welcome Centers – Open House

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:

Alabama Tourism Department