• Attendance figures deadline is Friday
  • Airbus named title sponsor of LPGA Tournament in Mobile
  • Good Towns: The Shoals, Alabama
  • ‘We were not going to let them kill Martin if it meant every one of us dying’
  • The South: four places to discover Martin Luther King Jr.’s life
  • Cahawba, state’s first capital, still attracts tourists
  • Gaineswood to hold special tour
  • Big Fish musical folds on Broadway
  • End of a trail: group ends ‘Tears’ ride
  • Save the date: Randy Owen to host celebrity golf tournament June 7
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events



Attendance figures deadline is Friday
The Alabama Tourism Department is asking representatives from state attractions and events to turn in their attendance figures for 2013. The deadline for turning in attendance figures is Friday.

These attendance figures are used by state tourism in economic impact studies and are the basis for the annual “Top 10” listings of tourism destinations. The figures serve as an invaluable guide for state government, local organizations and the media. They are also distributed in press kits to travel writers and group tour operators.

In order for you to be counted we must have your data by Fri., Jan. 24. The reporting process has been streamlined to allow you to enter your attendance figures directly online. The entire process should take less than 5 minutes to complete.

Please follow this link to enter your attendance figures:

Note: There is only one event or attraction per online form and only one classification can be chosen.  The Alabama Tourism Department reserves the right for final determination of classifications.

Airbus named title sponsor of LPGA Tournament in Mobile Jan. 21

While their first U.S.-based aircraft assembly plant is under construction at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, Airbus is venturing into another international project with local connections – professional women’s golf. Airbus will be the title sponsor for the LPGA tournament in Mobile this spring. The tournament will be known as the Airbus Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and will be held May 22 – 25 at RTJ Magnolia Grove in Mobile.

“Mobile has a strong legacy of hosting the best women’s golfers in the world,” said John Cannon, president of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. “With Airbus as the new title sponsor, this tournament will be an even larger international event. Not only will we get to see some of the world’s best athletes compete, but the international exposure and economic impact are tremendous. With the Airbus LPGA Classic on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in 2014, the eyes of the international golf community will be on America’s original golf trail.”

“Without a doubt, the past few years have been very exciting for Mobile, Alabama. The announcement that Airbus would be assembling A320 Family aircraft in its first U.S.-based production line in Mobile capped a long campaign that brought the community, elected officials and business together and put Mobile on the international stage within the aviation community. Now, Airbus is proud to combine its name with another event which puts Mobile on the international stage in another arena: ladies professional golf,” said Allan McArtor, Chairman of Airbus Americas and effective March 1 Chairman and CEO of Airbus Group Inc.

“The event in Mobile has become a fixture on the LPGA Tour schedule and we look forward to working with Airbus to continue a first-class event,” said LPGA Tour Commissioner, Mike Whan. “The southern hospitality of Mobile sponsors, volunteers, and fans is second to none on the Tour!”

“It is great to hear that Alabama will again host some of the most talented golfers in the world next year,” said Director of Alabama Tourism Lee Sentell. “In a short time, Alabama went from not being a golf state to becoming a destination that attracts some of the best tournaments and lots of fans. The substantial economic impact is important to our tourism industry.”

For more about Airbus, go to:

Follow the LPGA on its television home, Golf Channel, and on the web via:, and

Good Towns: The Shoals, Alabama

Jan. 14

Welcome to the Shoals! We’re highlighting this special area of Alabama, including the cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, and Sheffield, as our newest feature in the Good Towns series. Spotlighting special towns across the country, Good Towns is about the character, the history, the people, the unique things that make a town a special place. We hope you enjoy this story about the Shoals area in Alabama, and we invite you to share your thoughts and ideas for the next Good Town.


The Shoals area—Florence, Tuscumbia, Muscle Shoals, and Sheffield—is clearly a special place. It shapes, and is shaped by, the people who invest their lives here. Whether the song of the river or the arts of the community or the heritage of its ancestors, the vibrancy of the area is strong and beautiful and is sure to leave a lasting memory with any who have visited.

To read the entire story, go to:,-Alabama


‘We were not going to let them kill Martin if it meant every one of us dying’

by Charles Dean,, Jan. 20

Theresa Burroughs is gratified that America has set aside a day to honor King but the 81-year-old Burroughs doesn’t need this special day to remember King. She remembers King every day, memories of being with him in places like Montgomery, Selma, Birmingham, and most especially in King’s visits to her hometown of Greensboro and to her beauty shop where King would meet with organizers and leaders of the “movement” in west Alabama.  The “movement” is how Burroughs refers to the civil rights struggles, especially as they date from the 1950’s and up to 1968 when King was killed in April of that year in Memphis.

She remembers a dark night in Greensboro in late March of 1968, just two weeks before King would be killed. It was a night that King might well have died at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan had it not been for friends and supporters like Burroughs and many others who hid him as roving Klansmen in cars and trucks scoured Greensboro and Hale County looking for King who was reported to be meeting nearby with leaders and organizers .

Eventually it was decided to hide King in a small wooden house on the outskirts of Greensboro. The house belonged to Burroughs’ family. There King was brought where he was surrounded by a number of armed black men.  “We were not going to let them kill Martin if it meant every one of us dying,” said Burroughs, who stayed with King in her family’s house, along with several others.   “We were grateful to the Lord for keeping Martin safe with us that night,” said Burroughs.

Today the house King took refuge in is the Safe House Museum, looked over each day by Burroughs who lives just behind it on Davis Street. It has become a place to remember not just King but all the others who marched with him, who risked everything to be free, said Burroughs, who was arrested six times during the civil rights battles. She was one of the first marchers to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965 on what was to be a march to Montgomery to rally for voting rights. She was badly beaten that day by Dallas County deputy sheriffs and state troopers.

Burroughs said the nation setting aside King’s birthday as a national holiday honors not only him but all those who fought for freedom for so long.

To read the entire article, go to:

 The South: four places to discover Martin Luther King Jr.’s life

by Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 20

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a good time to reflect on the events that led to the Civil Rights Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson signed 50 years ago in July.  The stories that played out for King and his followers on the streets of Southern cities such as Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta remind us of the enormous sacrifice that fueled the movement. Here are four places to learn about King and the historic events that transpired in the 1960s.

Alabama Civil Rights Trail: A free smartphone app, created by the Alabama Tourism Department, offers itineraries to key civil rights sites across the state in Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, Tuskegee and other cities. It also features a time line of events leading up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

To read the entire article and see the other three sites, go to:,0,3284915.story#axzz2qyX6vbdC


Cahawba, state’s first capital, still attracts tourists

by Al Benn, The Montgomery Advertiser, Jan. 5

Cahawba, Alabama’s first capital may be a ghost town today, but supporters continue to work hard to make it a destination for visitors interested in state history.  The latest example is the recent arrival of interpretive panels that illustrate the town’s background when it was the center of Alabama politics and commerce.

With a new year just arrived, worn-out, handmade creations are being removed and replaced by more attractive signs made possible by a grant from the Alabama Historical Commission.

Site Director Linda Derry said each sign draws attention to a historic location as well as “subtle clues” left behind in the landscape by those who once lived at Cahawba.

“For the first time, we’ll be able to display actual photographs on location so visitors can see missing structures and town residents,” Derry said.  She said an added feature of the new signs is a “QR” code that can be read by smart phones, offering “options for hearing more stories, seeing photos and learning more of the park’s secrets.  We are currently compiling stories and photos to be part of the upcoming cell phone tours.”

Cahawba was carved out of the wilderness in 1819 and built atop the remains of an earlier ghost town occupied in the 16th century.

Although it lost its capital city designation in 1826 when the state seat of government was moved to Tuscaloosa before the eventual shift to Montgomery, Cahawba remains the “capital” of Dallas County.

To read the entire article, go to:


Gaineswood to hold special tour

A tour at Gaineswood will give visitors a chance to see some areas of the mansion that are not usually seen.

During the “Up, Down and All Around” tour, the “ring,” the circular observatory that sits atop the house, will be open for tourists to see a panoramic view of Demopolis.

Gaineswood also has an “English basement,” which means there are windows at ground level that provide light and ventilation to the basement area. This area is filled with folklore as the basement plays a role in “The Unquiet Ghost of Gaineswood.”

“This tour is an opportunity for people to see beyond the first and second floors of Gaineswood, the only spaces open to the public during a regular tour,” says site director Eleanor Cunningham. “Visitors often request to see the basement or observatory, but it isn’t possible for us to open those areas regularly.”

The tour will be held Sat., Feb. 1, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for students age 6-18. This tour is not recommended for children under six.  Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.

For more information about the tour, contact Gaineswood at (334) 289-4846.

To see this article, go to:


Big Fish musical folds on Broadway

The Broadway musical “Big Fish” has failed to hook an audience and closed on Dec. 29.

The $14 million show based on a book and movie about an eccentric storyteller, opened on Oct. 6. Its early demise marks a high-profile flop for its Oscar-winning producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen (“American Beauty”), Tony-winning director-choreographer Susan Stroman and two-time Tony-winning star Norbert Leo Butz.  Editor’s note: Norbert Leo Butz was an MFA student at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival a number of years ago.

The production drew attention in Alabama because of two scenes showing the campus of Auburn University where the romantic leads meet.


End of a trail: group ends ‘Tears’ ride

by Russ Corey,, Jan. 16

Tourism officials say it’s too early to tell if the demise of the Trail of Tears Remembrance Motorcycle Ride will impact attendance at events commemorating the forced removal of Native Americans from their homelands.

Each September, thousands of motorcycle riders descend on the Shoals to participate in events recognizing the Trail of Tears, the name given to the U.S. Government’s relocation of Native Americans in the Southeast to Oklahoma after the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

The annual Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride began in 1994 to mark one of the trails used during the 1838 removal.  The first ride departed from Chattanooga and ended in Waterloo, but in 2007, a falling out between the organizers led to the creation of the Trail of Tears Remembrance Ride.

Bill Cason, one of the organizers of the original ride, announced on Jan. 15, the Trail of Tears Remembrance Motorcycle Ride is ending.

Assistant Tourism Director Allison Stanfield said it’s too early to determine if the loss will impact attendance at the events held in Waterloo and Florence’s McFarland Park.

“It’s sort of hard to predict how many people may or may not come,” Stanfield said. “A lot of riders who love to do the ride will hopefully join the other ride. We will still have a large influx of motorcycles on that day.”

She said many people simply ride to the Shoals on their own to participate in various events.

The Trail of Tears Commemorative Motorcycle Ride will be Sept. 20. It will depart from Bridgeport and end in Waterloo, according to the ride’s official website.

That ride is organized by Jerry Davis, who along with Cason helped organize the original ride 20 years ago.

Cason said the organization has accomplished its goals, such as providing college scholarships for Native Americans, placing historical markers in areas along Trail of Tears routes, including in Oklahoma, marking new trails and making donations to other educational projects.

Cason said, “We had good rides every year. We just thought we couldn’t do any better than we’ve done already.”

To read the entire article, go to:


Save the date: Randy Owen to host celebrity golf tournament June 7

Randy Owen will host a celebrity golf tournament at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center on June 7, in Muscle Shoals.  There will also be a concert at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center that same evening.  This golf & music event will benefit the Boys & Girls Ranches of Alabama.

For more information about the charity, please visit


For a list of past celebrity participants, the sponsorship options available, and to register visit:


For questions and/or inquiries, please contact Alison Owen and Penny Precopia.

Alison Owen, Tournament Director,

Penny Precopia, Tournament Coordinator,


Alabama Tourism Department upcoming events

Jan. 22-26                   Louisville Boat, RV & Sport Show, Louisville, KY

Jan. 23-27                   Cincinnati Travel, Sports & Boat Show, Cincinnati, OH

Feb. 14-23                   Indianapolis Boat, Sports & Travel Show, Indianapolis, IN

Feb 16-20                   National Tour Association (NTA) – Los Angeles, CA

Feb. 23-26                   Travel South Domestic Showcase, Charleston, WV

Mar. 11                       2014 Legislative Tourism Bash, RSA Activity Center, Montgomery

Mar. 27-30                  Nashville Southern Women’s Show, Nashville, TN

April 3                        ATD Workshop in Tuscumbia

April 5                        Annual Spring Walking Tours begin

April 17                      To Kill a Mockingbird statue unveiled, first play of season, Monroeville

May 3-6                      Alabama League of Municipalities, Mobile

May 8 – 11                  Int’l Food & Wine Travel Writers Assoc. Conference, Montgomery



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.

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To subscribe to the weekly Alabama Tourism News, please contact Peggy Collins at:

Alabama Tourism Department