Alabama Tourism Department News June 10, 2014

  • Call for restaurants to participate in Alabama Restaurant Week
  • Sign-Up for April Walking Tours 2015
  • Selma movie will film in Montgomery and Selma beginning June 23
  • The modest bus station at the center of a world-changing confrontation
  • Fox News highlights Mullet Toss as ‘a contest you could only find in America’
  • Dothan celebrates 65th Annual Press Thornton Future Masters
  • Huntsville to host 2014 North American Travel Journalists Association Conference
  • Muscle Shoals in running for the Audience Award
  • Atlanta magazine does feature on Fairhope
  • Dauphin Island in USA TODAY’s Readers’ Choice 10Best U.S. Islands
  • USA TODAY profiles Moe’s Bar B Que
  • Friends of Gaineswood celebrates 20th anniversary
  • 2015 Vacation Guide & Calendar of Event deadlines
  • Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism accepting nominations
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Call for restaurants to participate in Alabama Restaurant Week

Restaurants may now sign up at for this year’s 10-day event which is set for Friday August 15 through Monday August 24, 2014. Alabama Restaurant Week is a marketing event that highlights restaurants in Alabama and is part of the overall Alabama Tourism Department’s Alabama Food campaign.

There is no cost to the restaurant or to their customers.

Many Alabama Chamber of Commerce and local tourism organizations have used the Alabama Restaurant Week promotion to help their local restaurants, creating a local restaurant week promotion at the same time.

Sign up is quick and easy. Go to and click on Sign Up Your Restaurant.

A restaurant enters basic information about their establishment and what multi-course meal(s) they want to offer at set prices of $10, $20 and $30 for dinner and $5, $10 and $15 for lunch.

In all cases, the price is per person for a meal consisting of

1)             Starter (examples: appetizer, soup or salad)

2)             Main course (examples: meat, fish or poultry or a vegetarian option, usually served    with vegetables or side dish)

3)             Dessert (examples: cheese, ice cream, fruit, pie or cookie)

(Note: Only 2 courses required at lunch, 3 for dinner meals – exceptions for single food restaurants such as BBQ)

If you signed up last year, first email or call Grey Brennan, 334-242-4459, to see if your last year’s information is still in our database.  It will save time.

The Alabama Restaurant Week set price multi–course meal(s) of $10, $20 and $30 for dinner and $5, $10 and $15 for lunch excludes tax, tip and drink.

A restaurant may participate in all three preset prices for both lunch or dinner, or just one or any combination.  A restaurant does not have to participate in both lunch and dinner.

A restaurant should sign up for the program as soon as a decision has been made by the restaurant to request participating.  This helps start a dialog between the restaurant and the Alabama Tourism Department.  By signing up early in the process, a restaurant increases their chances of receiving publicity.

Each restaurant must enter their fixed price meal offering by the deadline of July 15.

To qualify for participation, a restaurant must be locally owned and operated and/or a restaurant important to the tourism industry and located in Alabama.  Most chain restaurants do not quality. Alabama Tourism Department reserves the right to include or deny any restaurant.

For more information, go to  and or contact, 334-242-4459.

Sign-Up for April Walking Tours 2015

Town interested in participating in the 2015 April Walking Tours should respond with an email giving their town’s name, starting location, contact person and shipping address to  The deadline to sign-up for the walking tours is June 30.

A record 1,900 people participated in this year’s April Walking Tours. Some 32 towns across the state hosted the tours. Towns with the most participants included Florence with 240, Fairhope with 210 and Columbia with 196.

The hour long tours start at 10:00 a.m. each Saturday morning in April. Dates for the 2015 April Walking Tours are April 4, 11, 18 and 25.

“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 eleven years ago” he said.

Selma movie will film in Montgomery and Selma beginning June 23

Pivotal scenes for the film about the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March will be filmed in both cities during the week of June 23, producers say.

In the film, which is about the civil rights movement in the sixties and Martin Luther King Jr.’s stand against racism, British actor Tim Roth will play Alabama governor George Wallace, whose opposition to King led to the famous march from Selma to Montgomery. The picture is being produced by Paramount and helmed by the filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who has worked on projects such as The Middle of Nowhere and The Help. David Oyelowo, who also appeared in Steven Spielberg’s civil rights epic Lincoln, will star as Martin Luther King Jr., and long-time acting heavyweight Tom Wilkinson will play President Lyndon Johnson. Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey are producing.

Cameras are schedule to roll on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on June 23, with a day of filming at the Alabama State Capitol on June 27. Oyelowo will deliver a portion of King’s “How Long, Not Long” speech before hundreds of extras in front of the capitol.

Popular film actor Cuba Gooding Jr. will portray legendary Tuskegee attorney Fred Gray. Gooding previously appeared in “Red Tails,” a World War II drama about the Tuskegee Airmen whose heroism helped end segregation in the military.

Roth, who made a name for himself in Quentin Tarantino’s indie masterpiece Reservoir Dogs, is a performer who very rarely misses his mark, and has shown a strong track record in playing both good and evil characters. Wallace may not be inherently evil per say, but he will be Selma’s antagonist and will be a vessel into which Roth can really sink his teeth.

Interior scenes are being filmed on sound stages in Atlanta, producers said.

The modest bus station at the center of a world-changing confrontation

By Gene Demby,, June 4

It seems odd to suggest that folks should visit a bus station if they’re in the area; most people are trying to get out of a bus station as quickly as possible. But the small, one-story Montgomery bus station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places because it was the site of one of the most harrowing moments of the civil rights movement. In 1961, the Freedom Riders, a group of young activists, were trying to test whether Southern states were adhering to Supreme Court orders to integrate interstate travel, including buses and bus stations. People were not happy about this, and the Riders were harassed and intimidated. Even Martin Luther King Jr. warned them before they began. “You’ll never make it through Alabama,” he told them.

And it appeared for a while that King’s admonition was going to prove soul-crushingly true. In Anniston, Ala., segregationists set one of the Riders’ buses on fire and brutally beat them as they fled the flames. (In a scene recounted in vivid, horrifying detail the mob that had gathered at the bus station in Birmingham, wielding whips and chains, had been told by Bull Connor, Birmingham’s commissioner of public safety, that they would have 15 minutes to beat the Freedom Riders.)

“Arriving early in Montgomery with only a lone motorcycle patrolman escort, the Freedom Riders soon discovered that a crowd of approximately 200 angry protestors crowded the streets and the arrival bay area at the bus station. Among the crowd were several notorious Klansmen who were involved in the Birmingham violence. Reporters greeted the Freedom Riders, but before the first question could be answered, a mob, bearing lead pipes and baseball bats, attacked first the reporters, smashing their equipment, before turning their attention to the Freedom Riders. By this time, some of the Freedom Riders formed a human chain by joining hands. The mob quickly overwhelmed them.

“John Lewis remembered the scene, stating that hundreds of people with makeshift weapons attacked the Freedom Riders. The angry crowd pushed some of the Freedom Riders against a retaining wall, from which some jumped eight feet below to escape. Five African American women Freedom Riders escaped in a cab driven by an African American. Two Caucasian women were pulled from another cab and beaten by the mob. A federal agent attempting to help the two women was hit on the head with a metal pipe and was pushed under a car. Those Freedom Riders, who remained on the loading platform of the station, unable to escape their attackers, received the most serious injuries. The only Caucasian male rider, Jim Zwerg, was attacked viciously, losing consciousness from his beatings, and flung over a railing.”

Lewis, who has been a member of Congress since 1987,. An official in President Kennedy’s Justice Department who was accompanying the Riders was beaten unconscious.

The attacks gained international attention, and the outcry further energized the civil rights movement. King and hundreds of supporters went to Montgomery to show solidarity with the Riders, pleading with President Kennedy to intervene. The White House responded by sending federal troops to protect the Riders.

After the bus station was closed in 1995, it fell into disrepair. In 2011, it was reopened — with artwork and photographs of the Riders adorning the wall — after local advocates fought for the preservation of the empty property.

“The museum may be small, but its significance is monumental,” Myron Thompson, the city’s first black judge, said at the museum’s dedication.

To see this article online, go to:

Fox News highlights Mullet Toss as ‘a contest you could only find in America’

By Dennis Pillion,, June 10

The “Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party” garnered more national attention this morning, when the Fox News show “Fox and Friends” featured the 30th annual Interstate Mullet Toss at the Flora-Bama, as part of host Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s “My America” series.

The report features plenty of the basic information about fish throwing and the history of the festival, or how the crazy idea grew into an annual tradition that attracts tens of thousands of visitors and millions of dollars to the Gulf Coast each year.

Hasselbeck refers to the event as “a contest that you could only find in America,” and the piece features interviews with mullet throwers, (fake) mullet wearers, as well Flora-Bama co-owners John McInnis and Pat McClellan and emcees LeaAnne Creswell and Lisa Mckinney.

“We have about 30,000 people but it’s more than a party and it’s more than throwing fish,” McInnis said during the report. “It’s America. You have a hodgepodge of people from all walks of life, all different backgrounds, coming together for three days and everybody gets along.”

Watch the full report below. The Mullet Toss takes place every year on the last full weekend in April at the Flora-Bama Lounge, on the Gulf-front state line of Alabama and Florida.

To read this article online, go to:

Dothan celebrates 65th Annual Press Thornton Future Masters 

The 65th Annual Press Thornton Future Masters will bring approximately 500 young junior golfers and their families from all over the world to compete.  Official play will begin Sun., June 22, and the final round will be played Sat., June 28.  The 65th champion will be awarded the coveted trophy and blue blazer on the 18th green following the final round.  A complete program of events can be found on the website:  Admission is free to the public.

According to Bob Hendrix, Executive Director of the Dothan Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, “The Future Masters has played an important role in the City of Dothan’s growth for the past 65 years.  The economic impact of the Future Masters is $750,000 a year and has put Dothan on the international golf map.”

Many of today’s PGA players honed their golfing skills in this prestigious junior tournament.

The Future Masters recently announced the publication of a coffee table book of the 65 year history with photos, stories and interesting tidbits of information.  This book is available at the Dothan Country Club Pro Shop, Northcutt’s on Main and the Dothan Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

To order a book, please contact: or call 334-793-7144.

Huntsville to host 2014 North American Travel Journalists Association Conference

Huntsville has won its bid to host the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) conference to be held Sept. 16 – 19, at the Huntsville Marriott.  NATJA is an international association of travel writers and tourism professionals who meet on an annual basis. Approximately 100 people, 40-50 of whom are travel writers, are expected to attend this September. Travel writers in attendance are highly encouraged to write stories in their respective publications about their host city.

Judy Ryals, President/CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the organization tasked with recruiting conferences, meetings and visitors to Madison County, expressed excitement for the conference to convene in Huntsville.

“We are honored to host NATJA 2014 and will work diligently to ensure their conference experience exceeds expectations,” Ryals said. “This conference is great news for our community as it means not only tens of thousands of dollars to stimulate our local economy, but also outstanding coverage highlighting all of Huntsville and Madison County’s exceptional offerings as a visitor destination.”

Helen Hernandez, CEO of the North American Travel Journalists Association, explained why Huntsville was chosen among dozens of other choices nationally.

“The North American Travel Journalists Association is thrilled to be coming to Huntsville/Madison County, Alabama for our 2014 conference,” Hernandez said. “This destination is steeped in civil war history, historic antebellum homes, and has played a pivotal role in our country’s space exploration. Our goal is to share this amazing area with the travel media.”

In 2013, the travel and tourism industry, which includes both leisure and meeting visitors, was responsible for over 14,000 jobs in Madison County. Madison County’s 2.6 million visitors pumped an estimated one billion dollars into the local economy.

“The more conferences we bring to Huntsville/Madison County, the greater the economic impact for our community and the more opportunity that conference attendees will either return for a visit themselves or tell their friends and family that Huntsville is the perfect site for their next meeting or vacation,” Ryals said.

While in Alabama, NATJA conference attendees will also be able to visit other Alabama communities including the Shoals, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and various location in the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association region in special pre or post-conference tours.

For more information, please contact Jessica Carlton, Marketing Manager, at the Huntsville/Madison County CVB, at 256. 551. 2294 or by e-mail at

Muscle Shoals in running for the Audience Award

PBS Independent Lens

At film festivals, the award that often matters most to filmmakers and their subjects alike is the Audience Award. They know they’ve struck a chord when the audience applauds their efforts.

The Independent Lens audience has the opportunity to stand up and be counted by rating each film throughout the season. At the end of the season, the highest rated film is honored.

Muscle Shoals, Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America’s most creative and defiant music. There, FAME Studios founder Rick Hall brought black and white together amidst a cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations.

Winning the Audience Award can be a nice boost (or reboost) for a film and another stamp of approval in marketing, website, etc.

The deadline to vote is 6 p.m. Thurs., June 26.  The winner will be announced Mon., June 30.

To see the entire article, go to:

Atlanta magazine does feature on Fairhope

By Lisa and Chris Mowry,, June 2

Alabama didn’t end up with much oceanfront, but the towns tucked along Mobile Bay provide enough culture, architecture, and good food that visitors don’t miss the white sand. Fairhope, on the eastern side of the inlet, is just five hours or so from Atlanta and in some ways has more in common with Highlands, North Carolina, than sand-and-surf destinations like Panama City Beach. For couples like us, it presents that elusive combination of golf and gallery-hopping.

“We’ve often been compared to Carmel, California,” says Kiefer Wilson, whose wife, Karin, is the third-generation owner of Page & Palette bookstore and adjacent coffee shop Latte Da. Both coastal villages have quaint downtowns with dozens of independently owned fashion boutiques, antiques stores, and restaurants, plus long-standing reputations as art meccas. The annual Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival in March draws some 300,000 attendees, but local galleries and the Eastern Shore Art Center attract art lovers year-round.

Part of the town’s allure is its literary history. Among Page & Palette’s wooden shelves of bestsellers, used books, and art supplies is a section promoting local writers like Fannie Flagg, Winston Groom, Jimmy Buffett, and Rick Bragg. These authors and others have given the area a reputation as a place to write and think.

But Fairhope isn’t all highbrow. Its scenic pier overlooking Mobile Bay, often called the city’s “town square,” is a great place to fish. Walking trails along the water also offer inspiring views, while bike rides through the historic area provide a tour of coastal cottage and French Quarter–influenced architecture.

In fact, there’s plenty of NOLA energy in Fairhope, which is 160 miles east of New Orleans. The Gumbo Shack has been featured on Food Network. A shopping-and-dining district called the French Quarter has the familiar architecture and iron railings of Louisiana. Don’t miss the beignets inside the tall, filigreed green gazebo at Panini Pete’s. And Fairhope’s Mardi Gras is a family-friendly version where krewes toss MoonPies instead of beads.

A home base for Fairhope visitors is often the four-diamond Grand Hotel, a few miles south on Point Clear. The historic inn—built in 1847 and used as a hospital during the Civil War, then as a training base in World War II—has a lodge-like feel, with antique pine floors, a two-story stone fireplace, and high beamed ceilings. Its location on the point makes it handy for water sports, though many guests come for golf. The small on-site spa is quiet and serene, with treatments starting at $45. Dining options include the Grand Steakhouse and the more casual Saltwater Grill. The breakfast buffet is impressive, but we also savored the complimentary afternoon tea, when guests flop everywhere to read a newspaper or plan their next excursion.

Tee Time
Alabama Golf Trail Golfers can choose between the Dogwood and Azalea courses at Grand Hotel’s Lakewood Golf Club, and we enjoyed both. Established in 1947, the club blends the maturity of stately tree-lined fairways with excellent playing conditions, thanks to recent course renovations. Fox squirrels, turtles, and a variety of birds will appeal to nature lovers, and history buffs should take a peek at the Confederate cemetery next to Azalea’s eighteenth tee. Lakewood is the newest stop along Alabama’s acclaimed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, known for high-caliber golf at reasonable prices. Stop at any of the trail’s eleven sites, and you’re within an easy drive of another.

To read the article online, go to:

Dauphin Island in USA TODAY’s Readers’ Choice 10Best U.S. Islands

Alabama has a winner on its hands in 10Best and USA TODAY’s Readers’ Choice contest for Best U.S. Island. USA TODAY’s digital version and its print edition ran a piece on June 6, listing all the winners.  Dauphin Island came in at #7.

All results are posted at:

USA TODAY profiles Moe’s Bar B Que

By Larry Olmsted, USA TODAY, June 5

Every great barbecue joint has an interesting creation story, but the story of Moe’s is stranger than most. Mike Fernandez was a student at University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and inspired by the awesome local barbecue scene at places like the superlative Dreamland, he partnered with Moses Day, an experienced pitmaster, to open Moe’s Original Barbecue in Tuscaloosa. After his mentor and partner passed away, Moe’s closed and Fernandez went to culinary school (Johnson & Wales) to learn a more professional approach to the restaurant business.

Afterwards, he found himself living the ski-bum dream with two good college friends in Vail, Colo., a town bereft of real barbecue, so the three partners started cooking from a home built pit in nearby Edwards in 2001, which immediately became locally popular and morphed into a mobile trailer. The success of the trailer grew into a small eatery followed quickly in 2005 by a move to larger nearby location, still in operation today, in the Lionshead base area of Vail, just steps from the ski lifts. Tucked upstairs in a less obvious shopping plaza, this oldest location of Moe’s Original Bar B Que remains a hidden gem, at least as much as is possible in Vail. If you find yourself at America’s most popular ski resort, winter or summer, it is well worth seeking out. But there is more to the tale.

Because of the trio’s history in Tuscaloosa, they soon began partnering with driven and equally barbecue-obsessed graduates of their alma mater to open outposts of Moe’s wherever the U of A alums found themselves, from Alabama to Maine. Today, less than a decade after moving into their first space, there are nearly 30 Moe’s in eight states (Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Ohio, Nevada and Tennessee), with more outposts opening soon in California and South Carolina. It’s an interesting twist on franchising where prospective owners typically prove their mettle interning in one of the existing Moe’s and then often open with interest-free or low-interest loans and deferred fees from the founders, who often come and help work the new openings to get them up and running.

To read the entire article, go to:

Friends of Gaineswood celebrates 20th anniversary

By Justin Averette,, June 7

Friends of Gaineswood celebrated their 20th anniversary with a gala Saturday night.

“What a cherished, historic home we have here in Demopolis, but it’s something we all can sort of take for granted,” said John Northcutt, Friends of Gaineswood president. “It’s one of the most recognizable homes in the state, and something our community can be very proud of.”

Despite their success during the past two decades, Northcutt said there are challenges ahead for Gaineswood. The state continues to cut funding for the Alabama Historical Commission, which maintains and operates several historic homes across the state.

Gaineswood is one of American’s finest Greek Rival homes. Nathan Bryan Whitfield started construction of the home in 1843, in what would have been the “countryside” of Demopolis, and it was completed on the eve of the Civil War.

The home is on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973.

For more information about Gaineswood or Friends of Gaineswood, call (334) 289-4846.

To read the entire article, go to:

2015 Vacation Guide & Calendar of Event deadlines

In order to have your attractions and events listed in the printed version of the Alabama Vacation Guide & Calendar of Events, they must be entered into the website by June 30, for the Calendar of Events, and July 9, for the Vacation Guide.

The web address is:  If you have any questions, call Pam Smith at 334-353-4541.

Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism accepting nominations

The Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism is rapidly approaching (July 19 – 22). Alabama Tourism is still accepting nominations for outstanding tourism professionals who go above and beyond to promote Alabama.

Categories are: Hall of Fame, Tourism Government Advocate, Tourism Media Advocate, Rising Star, Event of the Year, Professional of the Year, Employee of the Year, Governor’s Tourism Award, Organization of the Year, Tourism Partnership Award, Welcome Center of the Year, Attraction of the Year, and Themed Campaigns.

Please send written nominations to Cynthia Flowers, Alabama Tourism Department, P.O. Box 4927, Montgomery, AL  36103.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

July 19-22                   Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Auburn

Sept. 7-14                   World Leisure Congress, Mobile


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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Alabama Tourism Department