Alabama Tourism Department News June 17, 2014

  • Alabama food exhibit opens in Birmingham at Pepper Place
  • 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before you Die mobile app active
  • Alabama Restaurant Week signup underway
  • Sign-Up for April Walking Tours 2015
  • Iron Bowl featured on USA Today’s 10-item sports bucket list
  • UK market gets updated Deep South website
  • Battle of Mobile Bay 150th Anniversary
  • Lyric on schedule to open next summer
  • Ave Maria Grotto is one of 10Best / USA TODAY Readers’ Choice nominations
  • Resident calls for preserving Eufaula’s aesthetic appeal
  • 2015 Vacation Guide & Calendar of Event deadlines
  • Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Alabama food exhibit opens in Birmingham at Pepper Place

By Bob Carlton,, June 11

The Art of Alabama Food, a photo exhibit that features many of the state’s iconic dishes, has made its way back home after exhibitions in New York City, New Orleans, Nashville and Atlanta.

The exhibit, which includes images of 36 dishes featured in the Alabama Tourism Department’s “100 Dishes To Eat in Alabama Before You Die” campaign, opened at Pepper Place in Birmingham last week and runs through June 28.

“With a large pool of culinary talent and innovative restaurants, it’s an exciting time for Alabama food,” Alabama Tourism Department Director Lee Sentell said in a media release. “This one-of-a-kind exhibit features images of signature dishes from restaurants across the state. It’s a great representation of Alabama’s unique food culture.”

In Birmingham, the exhibit is on display in a gallery space in Suite K, near Terrific New Theatre, in the Pepper Place complex at 2821 Second Ave. South.

Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

After Birmingham, The Art of Alabama Food will travel to Orange Beach, where it will be displayed at The Compleat Studio at The Whaf from July 2 through Aug. 9. Those hours will be 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Future tour stops will include Florence, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile and Dothan.

To see this article online, go to:

100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before you Die mobile app active 

By Donna Francavilla, ABC 33/40 Birmingham, June 12

What’s your favorite Alabama special dish?

The Alabama Tourism Department now has a mobile app called, “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.”  The mobile app entices users to sample some of Alabama’s best local restaurants.

Among the favored dishes: Baked grits from Highlands Bar and Grill, broiled seafood platter from The Bright Star, Baby Bleu Salad from the Homewood Gourmet,  Athenian grouper from the Fish Market, a Pork-Stuffed Tater from Saw’s BBQ, and Bouillabaisse from Hot and Hot Fish Club.

The tourism department’s food exhibit has been touring the country.  The exhibit has visited New York, New Orleans, Nashville and Atlanta. The traveling exhibit is now being displayed throughout the state.  Following its run in Birmingham, the Art of Alabama Food will make stops in Orange Beach from July 2 to August 9 and in Florence in mid-August. The exhibit arrived at Birmingham’s Pepper Place today, and will remain until June 28th.

Thirty-six high-definition images of different signature dishes from some of Alabama’s local restaurants and state-wide chains are laid-out gallery-style.  For more information, visit

For video, go to:

Alabama Restaurant Week signup underway

The call for restaurants to participate in Alabama Restaurant Week got off to a quick start last week.  Restaurants in Huntsville and Mobile lead the way with those two areas accounting for 25 of the 31 restaurants participating.

The Alabama Tourism Department is looking for additional restaurants to participate.  “This is great exposure for restaurants in Alabama,” said Grey Brennan, Regional Director for Alabama Tourism Department, “I’d ask that CVBs, Chambers of Commerce and other parties forward this notice to restaurants in Alabama that should participate.”

This year’s 10-day event is set for Friday August 15 through Monday August 24, 2014.

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

Sign up is quick and easy. Restaurants can sign up at 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 you 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.

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.

The following restaurants are listed as participating in the Huntsville area:

1892 East, Below the Radar, Cafe on Wheels Neon Lilly LLC , Clementine’s at Huntsville Botanical Garden, Granville’s Gourmet Ribs and Barbeque, Hildegard’s German Cuisine, Humphreys, J.Gumbo’s, New Market BBQ, Nick’s Ristorante, Ole Hickory BBQ, Peppered Pig, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Sadys Bistro, Scene Restaurant & Lounge, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, The Bottle, The Eaves Restaurant and West End Grill.

In Mobile, the restaurants signed up so far are:

Carpe Diem Coffee & Tea Co, Joe Cain Café, La Pizzeria, Pita Pit, Spot of Tea and The Trellis Room.

Other restaurants participating are:

Josephine Art Center Café in Union Springs, Singing River Bar and Grill

In Sheffield, The Brick Deli in Decatur, Tortugas Café in Trussville, and Tortuous Café in Hoover.

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.

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.

UK market gets updated Deep South website

Alabama Road Trips Now Featured

 After extensive analysis from a panel of testers, an updated and more attractive Deep South USA website has been created. With the introduction of a search facility, easier navigation, and a large map on the home page, the site that includes tourism information on the five southern states of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Mississippi is more user friendly.  The revised website also makes it easier for those viewing to find the Deep South USA blog which is regularly updated.

The website is targeted to potential tourist from the United Kingdom but available to everyone.

The Alabama section of the website now includes a video, the first 40 Alabama Road trips and a call to action to download the Alabama Tourism Department’s Road Trip App among other tourism information.

Besides the 40 Alabama Road Trips, other suggested fly drives & trails featured on the Deep South website include:

Adventures in the South (Atlanta, Fort Payne, Phenix City, Montgomery, Monroeville, Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Mobile)

Civil Rights Tours (Montgomery, Selma, Birmingham, Atlanta)

Music Triangle (Memphis, Tupelo, Muscle Shoals, Nashville)

Hank Williams Trial (from the Alabama Tourism Departments Hank Trail)

State Itinerary (New Orleans, Mobile, Gulf Shores, Montgomery, Birmingham, Huntsville, Muscle Shoals)

Music Tour (Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, Memphis, Muscle Shoals, Birmingham, Mobile, Gulf Shores, Montgomery)

Big Attractions Tour (Atlanta, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Indianola, Memphis, Tupelo, Muscle Shoals, Huntsville).

Current stories on the Deep South website blog include; The One thing that visitors must do in each of the Deep South states (Alabama-U.S. Space & Rocket Center); Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum receiving Guiness World Records status as the world’s largest motorcycle museum; and the Muscle Shoals movie on BBC iPLayer.

Alabama tourism destinations can send their latest tourism news to Della Tully, Alabama’s UK In-Market representative, for possible inclusion in the Deep South USA blog.

To visit the website, go to  To contact Della Tully, email:  ‎

Battle of Mobile Bay 150th Anniversary

The Alabama Historical Commission/Fort Morgan has a new website that tells about Fort Morgan as well as the upcoming 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay.

To see the new site, go to:

Lyric on schedule to open next summer

By Bryan Davis, Birmingham Business Journal, June 11

Organizers who once fought to save the Lyric Theatre from destruction are seeing the restoration of the Vaudeville hall become a reality.

Tom Cosby, who served as a fundraiser for the Light Up the Lyric Campaign which brought the marquee outside the theatre back to life last fall, said the project is moving forward and should be complete by mid-2015.

“We think it’s more important to get it right than to get it done fast,” Cosby said. “We expect now the Lyric will be open at some point next summer.”

The interior has gone through a thorough lead-based paint abatement and is filled with scaffolding.

Cosby said the organization chose to go with a construction manager, Stewart Perry Construction, rather than a general contractor. Bruce Adams, who was involved in the Vulcan Park restoration, will be overseeing the Lyric’s renovation.

“He’s been in the construction business for 30 years and really has a special heart for these historic restoration projects,” Cosby said. “That’s one of the things that really led us to Stewart Perry is that they truly saw this as a legacy project and something that will stand for years to come as a great asset for Birmingham.”

Westlake Reed Leskosky is the architecture firm in charge of the restoration.

“They are considered to be the national gold standard in restoring historic theaters,” Cosby said. “They have restored over 110 of them. They’ve seen it all, and they know what to expect and what to anticipate.”

Cosby said since the Lyric raised the $7 million needed for the restoration last January, an additional $1 million has been donated.

To read the article online, go to:

Iron Bowl featured on USA Today’s 10-item sports bucket list

By Mark Inabinett,, June 13

USA Today’s10 best bucket-list sporting events” includes a tournament going on right now in Brazil – the FIFA World Cup. It also features an athletic event that will take place on Nov. 29 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa – the Iron Bowl.

The USA Today sports bucket list, posted on its web site on Friday, was selected in conjunction with Robert Tuchman, the president of His company offers curated travel experiences with a specialty in sports.

Tuchman said of the bucket list: “These events play on people’s passions.”

The annual football game between Alabama and Auburn belongs on the sports bucket list with the Super Bowl, World Series and other national and international championships, Tuchman said, because: “It shows how important football is in that part of the country. I’ve never experienced anything like it and how it divides not just the entire state, but families.”

Tuchman’s tip for the Iron Bowl is to take in the tailgating as well as the game: “This event is all about the atmosphere and tenacity of the rivalry. Although the game is the must-see, it’s really the pregame tailgate where all the fun is happening.”

In addition to the Iron Bowl, FIFA World Cup, Super Bowl and World Series, the 10-item list also included the Masters, Kentucky Derby, NCAA Basketball Final Four, Daytona 500, NHL Winter Classic and Wimbledon.

That’s what’s on USA Today’s sports bucket list. What’s on yours? What are the sports events you want to take in before your final buzzer?

To see this article online, go to:

Ave Maria Grotto is one of 10Best / USA TODAY Readers’ Choice nominations

10Best / USA TODAY Readers’ Choice recently launched a new category, Best Quirky Landmark.  Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman is one of 20 finalists competing for a spot in the winners list.

Voting is open now, runs for four weeks only and ends Mon., June 23, at 10:59 a.m.

To see the full list of nominees and cast a vote, go to: Nominee supporters can vote once per day, per category.

Resident calls for preserving Eufaula’s aesthetic appeal

By Zoe Powell, Dothan Eagle, June 10

ALDOT’s John Cooper plans to four lane one-half mile through the historic district of Eufaula for $1.2 million plus.

The outcry should be, budget these monies to Eufaula for industrial development!  Proponents of the widening claim businesses will locate in Eufaula with easier access into town.  Nope. Numerous industries—Hughes Missiles, Louisiana-Pacific, Aladan, Beaulieu, Cooper Lighting, TNS Mills—closed due to lack of government contracts, market conditions and cheaper labor offshore, not because they operated on a two lane highway for years.

Mr. Cooper states that if he uses only state funds, he can skirt involvement with or accountability to the Federal Highway Administration.   Is that legal?  Weren’t federal funds originally used too?

It doesn’t take a botanist to know the roots of the large oaks will be damaged by huge equipment and this green space will be decimated.  Once gone…irreplaceable!  Quality of air will be negatively affected.

Residents exiting driveways will be unable to make sharp turns into traffic and the state will “rework” the curbs with a negative impact on trees planted along the city’s right-of-way and an infringement on the safety of pedestrians on adjacent sidewalks.

ALDOT will eventually mow everything down, put in a middle turn lane and install more lights to create “flow.” Lights cause congestion and exacerbate the problem’  Been there, done that…South Eufaula Avenue.  Shameful there and would be shameful here, too!

Tourism is a major industry and impacts the city with much needed revenue. The allure of historic structures will decline with this proposed widening.  If property values decline, over time, the street will be re-zoned for commercial use.  Did I mention South Eufaula Avenue?  Shameful there and would be shameful here, too!

ALDOT will pave a road to ruin. Preserve Eufaula’s culture, history and aesthetic appeal for residents and tourists alike.

To see the article online, 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

Join tourism professionals from around the State of Alabama for the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism, July 19-22, Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center.  Educational sessions, tourism vendors trade show, silent auction, tourism industry updates, legislative update session and networking opportunities will be offered over the 2.5 day conference. Networking opportunities with tourism professionals as well as suppliers to the tourism industry will be offered.

 Visit to view the full agenda, hotel reservations, and registration.  Full conference registration is $350.00.

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


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