Alabama Tourism Department News July 9, 2014

  • Alabama Tourism promoted at UK music festival
  • Leading newspaper in UK publishes story on Alabama Civil Rights Trail
  • Art of Alabama Food on exhibit at The Wharf in Orange Beach
  • Alabama Restaurant Week signups jumps to 78 restaurants
  • 2015 Vacation Guide deadline July 9
  • Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism
  • The Alabama Tourism Department presents Alabama Road Trip giveaway
  • Mardi Gras story wins Alabama Tourism Department fiction contest
  • U. S. Postal Service commemorates 150th anniversary of Battle of Mobile Bay
  • United Nations agency honors the Alabama Civil Rights Trail
  • Dauphin Island places seventh in USA TODAY ‘best U.S. island’ poll
  • Guests relive black history with Old Cahawba tour
  • History of life in the Muscle Shoals
  • Alabama Music Hall of Fame to honor Edwin “Peck” Rowell
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Alabama Tourism promoted at UK music festival

Alabama was front and center at this year’s Maverick Music Festival at Easton Farm, located in the English town of Suffolk about two hours train ride from London.  The festival is held each year on the 4th of July weekend.

The Maverick Festival is a celebration of Americana music and Muscle Shoals “Swamper” David Hood welcomed music lovers to the new ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ stage and also held a question and answer session with Muscle Shoals musician Hannah Aldridge after the screening of the Muscle Shoals movie which was also shown twice at the festival.

The Alabama Tourism Department was an official sponsor of the event that included over 50 performers during a three-day lineup.   More than 3,000 American music lovers attended the festival.  The Alabama Tourism Department’s UK In Market Representative Della Tully and tour operator Ultraviolet Music Travel were at the festival in a special Sweet Home Alabama booth to respond to people inquiring about trips to Muscle Shoals and other areas in Alabama.

Muscle Shoals’ David Hood Interviewed by the BBC, twice

Before heading to London for the Maverick Music Festival, David Hood was interviewed by the BBC.  Hood was interviewed at the 3614 Jackson Highway, the original Muscle Shoals Sound Studio location.  They also interviewed his son Patterson Hood for a feature on Southern music.  Then a few days later, while in London, David Hood was again part of a BBC interview.  This one centered on Muscle Shoals and the Maverick Festival.

He was interviewed by BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Stephen Foster ahead of his appearance at the Maverick Festival.

To hear the interview, go to:

Leading newspaper in the UK publishes story on Alabama Civil Rights Trail

The Telegraph, one of the leading newspapers in the United Kingdom, has published a lengthy article on the Alabama Civil Rights Trail.  The story by Nigel Richardson is the result of the efforts of the Alabama Tourism Department’s UK In-Market Representative Della Tully.  Individual tourism offices in the cities Richardson visited assisted him during his visit. The Telegraph was founded in 1855 and has a circulation of more than 500,000.  The article includes a call to action to book a trip to Alabama as well as links to many Alabama Civil Rights attractions.

 Cities included in the article are; Tuscaloosa, Selma, Birmingham and Montgomery.

The Alabama Civil Right Trail is a part of the Alabama Tourism Department’s tourism efforts that includes a printed brochure, dedicated web pages and a mobile app.

To see Nigel Richardson’s article, go to:

Art of Alabama Food on exhibit at The Wharf in Orange Beach, July 7

Prepare your palette and eye for art as The Art of Alabama Food is on exhibit at The Compleat Studio at The Wharf through Aug. 9. Featuring 36 professional food shots from the “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die” brochure and as part of the Alabama Tourism Department’s (ATD) “Alabama Food” campaign, the exhibit celebrates chefs and restaurants that represent the state’s trademark twist on Southern cuisine.

“The Year of Alabama Food exhibit highlights what Alabamians already know and what the rest of the world needs to see – our state is home to a wide diversity of culinary offerings and renowned chefs worth celebrating!” Joanie Flynn, vice president of marketing for Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, said. “Along with the Alabama Tourism Department, The Wharf and The Compleat Studio, our beach area is excited to host not only a stunning exhibit but also a variety of fun ‘foodie’ events.”

Lee Sentell, ATD’s director, echoes the importance of this exhibit and coinciding events for state tourism.

“With a large pool of culinary talent and innovative restaurants, it’s an exciting time for Alabama food,” Sentell said. “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.”

Bob Baumhower, former University of Alabama football standout and Miami Dolphin, proudly serves as the “head fry cook” and owner of Aloha Hospitality, the umbrella company over many restaurants around the state. Through his passion for the area and exposing people to the state’s varied flavor profile, Baumhower encourages locals and beachgoers to discover the area’s culinary offerings.

“Alabama is a dream destination for food lovers, and we believe the world needs to know it,” Baumhower said. “We decided that this exhibit had to be shared with as many people as possible and began a campaign to help bring this exhibit to The Wharf in Orange Beach, the gateway to Alabama’s beaches.”

The showcase itself will be open to the public Wednesdays through Saturdays through Aug. 9 from 4-10 p.m.

For more details on The Art of Alabama Food and the complete schedule of events, visit I Love Alabama Food or Art of Alabama Food. Visit Alabama Tourism online.

To read the entire article, go to:

Alabama Restaurant Week signups jumps to 78 restaurants

Seventy-eight restaurants are now participating in Alabama Restaurant Week.  “This is a great beginning”, said Grey Brennan, Regional Director for Alabama Tourism Department.  “I’d ask that CVBs, Chambers of Commerce and other parties forward this notice to additional restaurants to they can also join in this restaurant promotion.”

 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.

This year’s 10-day event is set for Fri., Aug. 15 through Mon., Aug. 24.

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 is asked to enter their fixed price meal offering by 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.

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.

2015 Vacation Guide deadline July 9

Please update your information for the Vacation Guide listings, on the industry partner website:, by July 9.

For information about the publication or updating your listing, contact: Pam Smith at or 334-353-4541.

Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism

The annual Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism is just over two weeks away.  If you have not made your reservation yet, the Hotel at Auburn University’s $125 rate will not be available after July 7.

Please consider making a donation(s) to the Silent Auction and/or the Third Annual Wine & Craft Beer Pull.  The tourism industry’s contributions to these events over the past 25 years have made more than $250,000 for the Alabama Hospitality & Tourism Industry Scholarship Fund.

For more information and to register, go to:

The Alabama Tourism Department presents Alabama Road Trip giveaway

PRWEB, July 7

The Alabama Tourism Department announces a six-week Road Trip Giveaway with chances to win travel packages to Gulf Shores, Mobile, Huntsville, the Shoals, Birmingham and Montgomery. The winner of the grand prize will get to plan their own customized Alabama Road Trip.

“This road trip promotion is designed to highlight the variety of travel experiences available in Alabama,” said state tourism director Lee Sentell. “There is something for everyone, from a gulf coast beach vacation, to playing on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, to fine dining in Birmingham, to trips to North Alabama for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville and tours of the recording studios in Muscle Shoals.”

Prize package descriptions, complete rules and instructions on entering are available at To learn more about Alabama Road Trips, visit or download the Alabama Road Trips app, available on iTunes or the Google Play Store.

The Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) helps ensure that Alabama’s economy gains maximum benefits from tourism. More than 24 million travelers spent a combined total of $11 billion in the state in 2013, supporting the jobs of more than 163,000 Alabamians. The agency was created in October 1951 by legislative act to promote travel to and through Alabama. It does this both nationally and internationally. ATD is funded by one-fourth of the 4 percent state lodgings tax collected by hotels, motels, campgrounds and other accommodations.

For more information and a list of road trips, go to:

Mardi Gras story wins Alabama Tourism Department fiction contest

Mary S. Palmer’s Mardi Gras short story “Raisin’ Cain” won the Mobile Bay SELTI Tourism Writing Contest sponsored by the Alabama Tourism Department.  The fictional story is set in Mobile’s real Joe Cain Day Parade during the two-week Mardi Gras celebrations.  Palmer won a $500 prize from the Alabama Tourism Department through the contest, and her story was published online by the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative (  “Raisin’ Cain” includes links to websites where readers can learn more about Mobile’s Mardi Gras celebrations and other nearby tourism attractions like the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Bellingrath Gardens, and even Mobile’s Renaissance Faire, all of which were featured in short stories that made up the six finalists in the contest.

“This contest is a wonderful way for us to showcase how fiction writers across the state can publicize their work while helping to bring in new tourists to their local communities,” said Brian Jones, public relations director for the Alabama Tourism Department.

Palmer has published several novels and also teaches English in the Mobile Bay area for Faulkner University, Huntingdon College, and Faulkner State Community College.

“If colleges and universities in Alabama started teaching tourism fiction, there is a good chance that the impact on tourism would be tremendous,” said Palmer.  “It would show the business community how English could be important in reviving economic development.  In turn, the business community might be influenced to provide funding for tourism fiction programs once they saw that it benefited them.”

“Universities have made important contributions to the SELTI tourism fiction contests,” said Patrick Miller, founder of SELTI.  “But no university has ever taught a course in tourism fiction. A history professor at the University of Alabama Museums helped to create the first SELTI contest at Moundville.  English professors at UA helped to judge the Moundville SELTI contest, and during the Lookout Alabama SELTI contest, a Jacksonville State University professor developed the first academic grading standards for tourism fiction.”

“College students could very well be the future of tourism fiction—if someone teaches them how to write it,” said Palmer.  “And Alabama could be right in the center of that, blooming like a camellia, our state flower.”

“One of the most exciting aspects about the SELTI contests is beginning to experiment in a new genre—tourism fiction— that could someday revolutionize the publishing and tourism industries by combining their strengths in a seamless way,” said Miller. “Universities teaching tourism fiction across the country could play a huge part in that.”

Technology is also playing a vital part in tourism fiction along with writing style and content, said Miller.  Modern e-readers like the Kindle and iPad tablets have web browsers, which means that publishers could embed links into novels that lead readers to related tourism websites about the places in the stories.

“Readers could instantly browse websites through links inside a tourism novel about the places their favorite characters interact, like hotels, restaurants, and tourism attractions,” said Miller.  Blind Fate, Miller’s suspense novel set in Montgomery, was featured in USA Today for being the first to include such a tourism guide with embedded tourism links.

“Tourism attractions all over the country and the world would make wonderful settings for novels,” said Miller.  The tourism fiction grading standards developed for the SELTI contests are available for anyone to review and adapt to their own city or state by visiting the SELTI website.

To link to the final story published on SELTI with all the tourism links, go to:

U. S. Postal Service commemorates 150th anniversary of Battle of Mobile Bay

On July 30, the Postal Service will continue its commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  A souvenir sheet of two stamp designs — Battle of Mobile Bay, AL, and Petersburg, VA, Campaign — will be issued.

In Alabama, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe will serve as dedicating official for the First-Day-Of-Issue (FDOI) stamp ceremony at the History Museum of Mobile, 111 South Royale Street in Mobile.  The dedication ceremony is free to the public.

One stamp depicts Admiral David G. Farragut’s fleet at the Battle of Mobile Bay, AL, on Aug. 5, 1864. The second stamp depicts the 22nd United States Colored Troops engaged in the June 15-18, 1864, assault on Petersburg, VA. The Petersburg Campaign stamp will be dedicated in Virginia on July 30.

Both Civil War stamps are being issued as Forever stamps which always will be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

United Nations agency honors the Alabama Civil Rights Trail

UNESCO, the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture, has named Alabama’s key civil rights locations a “World Memory Site.” Birmingham Mayor William Bell made the announcement at a news conference with Lee Sentell representing Gov. Robert Bentley at the historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The church, Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge were also included.

The designation is a step toward the goal to gain “World Heritage Site” status. The World Heritage Convention’s mission is to identify, safeguard and promote unique cultural and natural heritage around the world deemed to possess outstanding universal value for all humankind. Visitors’ trips to the Alabama Civil Rights Trail will be enhanced by deeper insight and information about these intriguing destinations while supporting their conservation through sustainable tourism, Sentell said.

The Alabama Tourism Department produced a handsome presentation book that Bell presented to President Barrack Obama on a trip to the White House.


Dauphin Island places seventh in USA TODAY ‘best U.S. island’ poll

By Cassie Fambro,, July 1

Dauphin Island, Alabama’s own sunset capital of Alabama has been named the seventh best island in the country as a result of a USA TODAY.

“My first thought upon learning of the nomination was that it was an honor for our community to be included in the early list of twenty,” stated Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier.

“However, being selected by readers of the USA TODAY Travel as the seventh best island in the United States is an incredible accomplishment and speaks to the tremendous importance of our unique island community, especially considering the competition included some of the most preeminent vacation destinations in the country,” he said.

First place went to Puerto Rico. USA TODAY highlighted that “the island is home to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Estuarium, where visitors can learn about fresh- and saltwater species native to the state.”

“This recognition is something everyone along Alabama’s Gulf Coast should be proud of and helps carry our message that the sunset capital of Alabama is a special place worth protecting,” said Collier.

To see this article online, go to:

Guests relive black history with Old Cahawba tour

By Sarah Robinson, Selma Times Journal, July 5

For at least the second time this year, Old Cahawba Archaeological Park has given the public a chance to relive black history with an informative tour around the area.

The park held a tour this weekend explaining the history of how former enslaved residents of Old Cahawba and areas close by played a vital role in rebuilding the region post Civil War. Led by archaeological interpreter Jack Bergstresser, the African-American Community After Emancipation Tour awed those who ventured it Saturday morning.

“I think it’s really neat, “ Bergstresser said in response to attracting residents from outside of the area. “I’m glad the word got out.”

During the one-hour tour, Bergstresser showed guests the one-room schoolhouse built by the black community, the ruins of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Negro Burial Ground where deceased slaves were buried, the Dallas County Courthouse where African-Americans registered to vote for the first time after years of being denied that right and more.

California residents Sylvia and Levi Bennett came to Selma to visit family and friends this Fourth of July weekend. When they heard about the African-American Community After Emancipation Tour, they eagerly made plans to join.

Bennett said she was shocked to learn that Old Cahawba was once home to Alabama’s state capitol, and she was looking forward to learning what other great historical facts the area has to offer.

“I also didn’t realize the impact that slavery had in this particular area,” Sylvia Bennett said. “I just wanted to find out a little bit more. I’m generally interested to see what all it entails.”

Read more:

History of life in the Muscle Shoals

 Dr. Johnson, Professor Emeritus of the University of North Alabama, will be signing Life in the Muscle Shoals (ISBN-13: 978-1-934610-92-3) at the Decatur Books-A-Million on Sat., July 19, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.  Because Dr. Johnson is not only a historian and scholar, but also a captivating storyteller, Life in the Muscle Shoals is a combination of textbook accuracy and campfire romance.  It is a most enjoyable way to learn the history of Muscle Shoals.

Dr. Johnson tells his story chronologically, beginning with the first occupants of Northwest Alabama – Native Americans and early white settlers – and the inevitable clashes between them. After laying this historical foundation, Johnson describes the establishment of major landmarks and cities in the area during the antebellum period.  National issues, such as slavery, religion, and education, are explored.  Along with most of the South, the Muscle Shoals area was directly affected by the Civil War and Johnson vividly portrays how the war influenced and altered conventional life temporarily as well as permanently in the Tennessee Valley.   Johnson wraps up his historical narrative with the changes in growth during the post-Civil War years and how the Muscle Shoals area transformed economically, socially, and culturally.

 Perhaps Johnson’s most engaging characteristic is the attention given to all aspects of “ordinary” life woven throughout his historical research.   Although Johnson does not skimp on the larger issues that faced the American inhabitants of Northwest Alabama, he also features engrossing stories of local consequence.  History buffs will be delighted with the tales of the famous and infamous who left their footprints permanently embedded in the rich soil of the Tennessee Valley:  David Crockett, Andrew Jackson, Jesse James, and Jesse Owens, to name a few.   Johnson’s Life in the Muscle Shoals, therefore, offers a unique and impressive two-fold perspective:  the historical importance of the Tennessee Valley area from a national point of view and the personal significance that same history has on its local citizens.

 The book is available at:

Alabama Music Hall of Fame to honor Edwin “Peck” Rowell 

For every artist appearing on stage there are many individuals that have made that appearance possible.  People who teach, support, and expose the talents of these artists, and Edwin “Peck” Rowell will be recognized as such with an unveiling of an exhibit at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame July 19, at 1 p.m.,” said Dixie Connell Griffin, Manager.   He will be available to sign his book, A Place I Couldn’t Leave.

A native of Loachapoka, Rowell has spent much of his life entertaining people in the east central Alabama community and offering the opportunity of future stardom to those working with him. Among those who passed through Rowell’s band on their way to Nashville were Mike Johnson, who is the reigning Academy of Country Music Steel Guitar Player of the Year, Charlie Whitten, who worked with Martina McBride and the Judds, Jimmy Peppers, Joe Gibson, Lamar Morris, and his son Ernie Rowell, bass player and front man for George Jones, Ray Price and Mel Tillis.

As the youngest of nine children, Peck grew up on a farm, in a family with a strong musical heritage.  His father taught him guitar, and his grandfather taught him fiddle.

After his discharge from the Air Force at the end of WWII, Rowell began play in a band put together for parties and special occasions. This led to him forming The Covered Wagon Boys, which he fronted for the next 32 years.  The Covered Wagon Boys played for 10 years at “The Wagon Wheel” in Opelika; Rowell then built the Blue Creek Recreation Center on Lake Martin. He operated the venue for 22 years, bringing in many of the stars of Country music to headline shows.  Some of the stars that performed were Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Mel Tillis, Connie Smith, Charlie Louvin, Ray Price, Bill Anderson.

Rowell was also a country music disk jockey, working a five year stint at WJHO radio in Opelika in the early 1950s. He was recognized for his work as “Deejay of the Week” by WSM radio in Nashville.

Peck Rowell spent a lot of time over the last couple of years completing a book telling his life story.  It chronicles simple country life in Loachapoka.  It tells how he influenced the music of his time-recording, playing, writing, and promoting what he loved-country Music.  Although he loved Nashville, he could never leave home to chase that dream, even as he encouraged countless others to do just that-even his own son.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

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

Aug. 15 – 24               Alabama Restaurant Week

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.

The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to:

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

Alabama Tourism Department