Tourism Tuesdays November 11, 2014

  • Alabama Barbecue book signing Friday at Books-A-Million
  • Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism projects 2014 as another record year
  • First trailer for the movie “Selma” is released
  • Scottsboro Boys dazzles at Garrick
  • C.T. Vivian to receive Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award
  • Kenny Chesney’s Flora-Bama-Jama on CMT Friday
  • Hidden Alabama: Space Camp and beyond
  • Mystery Rock tourism fiction focuses on Alabama Gulf Coast
  • Frontier Days: a snapshot of the past
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Alabama Barbecue book signing Friday at Books-A-Million

Author Annette Thompson and photographer Art Meripol will be signing copies of the Alabama Tourism Department’s new book Alabama Barbecue at the Brookwood Village location of Books-A-Million on Friday, Nov. 14 from 4-7 p.m.  Jim ‘N Nicks will provide barbecue samples for the public.

More than 75 restaurants in 52 cities across the state are featured in Alabama Barbecue. The colorful 128-page hardcover book was produced by the Alabama Media Group in cooperation with the Tourism Department and covers the state by geographic region.

State tourism director Lee Sentell, who wrote the introduction, will promote the book on WBRC Fox6 on Wednesday at 8 a.m. “The book will be a great Christmas gift for a lot of people,” he said.

The book is designed as a road trip guide for barbecue lovers. Included in the book are legendary barbecue restaurants like Big Bob Gibson in Decatur, Jim ‘N Nick’s in Birmingham, Saw’s in Homewood, Bob Sykes in Bessemer, Dreamland in Tuscaloosa, Archibald’s in Northport, Dobbs in Dothan and The Brick Pit in Mobile. Newcomers Smokin’ on the Boulevard in Florence, Smokey C’s in Decatur and Hog Wild in Gulf Shores made the book. The book also recognizes the “Top Ten Barbecue Folks” in the state and has a recipe section.

Alabama Barbecue is available at Books-A-Million stores across the state and online at and  The retail price of the book is $20.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism projects 2014 as another record year
By Dennis Pillion,, Nov. 7

The three-year trend of increasing tourism on Alabama’s beach towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach appears to be continuing in 2014.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism group has projected that lodging revenue for 2014 will reach $375 million for 2014, which would be a 7.1 percent increase from last year’s record $350 million. The figures are taken from lodging tax records provided by state and local governments through the end of October.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism president and CEO Herb Malone said that with 10 months of data and only November and December left, the group was confident that the final tally would show between 7 and 7.5 percent improvement over 2013 number.

“We have a good feel for where we are and we know where we’ve been in the past,” Malone said. “We know what the annual increase has been so far and we feel like it’s a good trend.”

Malone announced the new projections at LuLu’s in Gulf Shores during the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber first Friday breakfast meeting with more than 200 local business representatives on hand.

“Lodging revenue is the one number we can really get our hands around (to measure tourism),” Malone said. “In retail sales, you’ve got building supplies and local residents shopping factored into that, but the vast majority of the hotels, condos, beach houses, bed and breakfasts and RV parks we can track through the lodging tax.”

The upward trend continued since the down year of 2010 when the community was dealing with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and clean-up. In 2011, the lodging revenue figure was $280 million, then $325 million in 2012 and $350 in 2013. In each of the three years before the spill, the total was between $230 million and $236 million.

Malone said during the Chamber meeting and in an interview after that sports tourism was an increasingly important piece of the puzzle for tourism in the area, citing events like the SEC Soccer Championships, and the NAIA National Track and Field Championships, as well as high school and youth sporting events.

The tourism bureau reported that the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission will host a total of 95 events in 2014, generating a projected 76,000 lodging room nights to the area. That total is up 6.4 percent from 2013. The group said 220 meetings booked through the end of the year are expected to generate 58,000 room nights, also a 6.4 percent increase over last year.

“Sports tourism has been one of the fastest growing elements that we’ve had,” Malone said. “If you look at the seven or eight year trend that we’ve been tracking, that’s been outgrowing everything else that we do. A lot of that is a testament to the quality of the facilities that both our cities have invested in and the great teamwork that happens between them.”

To read this article online, go to:


First trailer for the movie “Selma” is released

WSFA 12, Nov. 7

The first movie trailer for the Oprah Winfrey’s film “Selma” is being released to the public. The two-and-a-half minute long teaser video follows Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. on his journey for racial equality and the attempt to march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the city for which the movie is named.

The 1965 attack on the bridge by white Alabama State Troopers upon unarmed blacks and their white supporters as they attempted to march to Montgomery earned it the name “Bloody Sunday”. The event is credited with being a crucial moment that led President Lyndon Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Historians basically say there’s three pivotal points in American history, the American revolution, the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement,” says Brian Jones at the Alabama Tourism Department. “To actually go and walk in the footsteps and actually be where history happens, you have to come to Montgomery, you have to come to Selma.”

While the movie looks at the civil rights event that happened on the bridge, it also focuses on the relationships among King, President Johnson, and Alabama Governor George Wallace.

Jones is excited about the impact the movie can make on those who are not-so familiar with the events.

The timing of the movie’s release could have a major impact on Montgomery’s plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march. Already, major preparations are underway for a big crowd. This movie hitting theaters just two months before could bring even more people in.

“It’s sort of like a living invitation for people to come back and not only value the history, but to see where Alabama and to see where Montgomery is today.” Jones says.

Filming for the movie took place in both Selma and Montgomery in June with Winfrey and Cuba Gooding, Jr. taking major roles. More than 700 people took part in the filming as the Alabama cities were transformed back to a 1960s setting for the movie.

The movie is expected to be released in January 2015, just prior to the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”.

To read this online and watch the trailer, go to:

Scottsboro Boys dazzles at Garrick

By Rebecca Donn, London, West End, Oct. 21

The West End transfer of the Young Vic production is ‘fierce, bold and relentlessly entertaining’

Catherine Love

Rarely do form and content dance such an intimate, dangerous tango as in The Scottsboro Boys… Nothing about the Scottsboro Nine’s case makes it obvious material for a musical, but then Kander and Ebb aren’t about obvious… murderesses and Nazis don’t seem like ideal toe-tapping candidates either, yet Chicago and Cabaret are now undisputed classics. It’s easy to see The Scottsboro Boys soon inhabiting the same territory with its brilliant blend of incendiary rage, black humour and infectious tunes. That’s not to mention Stroman’s dazzling choreography, in which not one step is wasted… Stroman’s production manages to be at once fierce, bold and relentlessly entertaining… the same fury that simmers beneath Kander and Ebb’s score glints through the grimaces of the uniformly excellent cast.

To read more reviews, go to:

C.T. Vivian to receive Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) will present its highest honor, theFred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award, to Dr. C.T. Vivian, distinguished author, organizer, and civil rights pioneer, at its annual awards dinner on Fri., Nov. 14, in the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel Ballroom.  The celebration begins with a 6:00 p.m. reception followed by dinner and the awards program at 7:00p.m. The annual event recognizes individuals for their service to civil and human rights causes around the world and is named for the leader of Birmingham’s Civil Rights Movement, Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth.   For ticket information, call 205-328-9696 x 236.

“We are pleased to pay tribute to Fred L. Shuttlesworth by honoring a civil rights pioneer who pushed our nation towards greater justice and equality,” stated BCRI Interim President and CEO Priscilla Hancock Cooper. “With a legacy of activism that began in 1947 with the desegregation of lunch counters in Peoria, Illinois, and continues today as founder of the C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute, Dr. Vivian remains an inspiration and example to all.”

In 2013, Dr. Vivian was recognized by President Barack Obama who awarded him this nation’s highest civilian honor- The Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian began his career as a Christian journalist and rose to prominence as a civil rights activist working closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was the National Director of Affiliates and strategist for Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) at the time of the SCLC’s Birmingham Campaign in 1963.  “Alabama gave us our freedom,” Dr. Vivian said in a 2013 interview with BCRI’s oral history project. Founder of the C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute, Inc., Vivian has provided civil rights counsel to Presidents Johnson, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama, and he continues to lecture on racial justice and democracy throughout the world.

Kenny Chesney’s Flora-Bama-Jama concert footage on CMT Friday
By Dennis Pillion,, Nov. 5

If you were one of the 40,000-plus people who packed out the Flora-Bama for Kenny Chesney’s free concert this August, or even if you weren’t, footage from the Flora-Bama-Jama will make its way to the airwaves of CMT starting this week.

According to a release from the network, on Friday CMT and CMT Pure will begin airing the clip for “Flora-Bama,” a song Chesney wrote with David Lee Murphy about the famous beach bar on the Alabama-Florida state line. Murphy appeared on stage with Chesney during his Flora-Bama-Jama performance.

The hour-long special “Kenny Chesney: Live from the Flora-Bama” will air for the first time on CMT on Nov. 14 at 9 p.m. central time and re-air Nov. 16 and at 8 a.m. Additional airings across CMT’s platforms – online, Pure, Video on Demand and Palladia – are being scheduled, according to the release. The special is expected to feature some of the 32-song set, plus some additional content filmed at the Flora-Bama.

Tens of thousands packed the beachfront stage area at the Flora-Bama for the show, and many more watched from nearby condominiums, parking garages and a flotilla of boats in the Gulf near the stage. Organizers gave out around 35,000 free wristbands for the event, which disappeared in minutes from Chesney’s web site.

Despite the large crowd and last-minute nature of the show, organizers kept traffic disruptions to a minimum by eliminating on-site parking and using shuttle buses and diverting through traffic off the beach road.
Chesney told through a publicist that “It takes a special place and very special people to pull something like this off in a matter of weeks, but that’s Orange Beach, Perdido Key and the surrounding counties: nice people living in paradise, pulling together to make something happen.”

Merchandise at the show billed the event as “Kenny Chesney’s First Annual Flora-Bama-Jama,” although organizers have not said specifically whether there will be a similar event next year or what Chesney’s involvement would be.

To read this article online, go to:

Hidden Alabama: Space Camp and beyond
By Megan Parks, USA TODAY, Nov. 3

Few living outside the Heart of Dixie are aware of the state’s natural beauty, record-setting attractions and the vital role one sleepy northern Alabama town played in the great Space Race. Whether simply passing through or visiting for several days, don’t miss these top Alabama attractions.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center: Huntsville

Although most people think of Cape Canaveral, the U.S. Space Program was actually conceived in Huntsville, Ala. The Apollo mission that sent our first astronauts to the moon was meticulously planned in this sleepy town. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center holds one of the world’s largest collections of rockets and space memorabilia, not to mention IMAX and 3-D theaters, interactive exhibits and space travel simulators.

And you are in fact never too old to go to Space Camp! The U.S. Space & Rocket Center offers a two-night adventure for adults in addition to its trademark kids’ Space Camp programs. But if you are more of a Top Gun fan than Armageddon, don’t fret. The center’s Aviation Challenge Program offers a taste of jet fighter pilot training, including land and water survival training.

Other Top 10 attractions and events included:

USS Alabama Memorial Park: Mobile
Horse Pens 40: Steele
Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge: Central Alabama – multiple locations
Mardi Gras: Mobile
The American Village: Montevallo
Hangout Music Fest: Gulf Shores
Barber Motorsports Museum: Birmingham
Robert Trent Jones (RTJ) Golf Trail at Ross Bridges: Birmingham

To read the entire article and find out more about the places listed here, go to:

Mystery Rock tourism fiction focuses on Alabama Gulf Coast
Middle school novel encourages tourism for the family

City, State: Mystery Rock, the new middle school adventure book by author Kathryn C. Lang, features three brothers who discover a rock uncovered by a recent hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast. They decipher the clues presented by the rock and the clues lead them to several locations along the Alabama Gulf Coast – starting at Gulf State Park and continuing to Fort Morgan, over the Bay on the Mobile Bay Ferry, to Fort Gaines, and all around Dauphin Island.

“It was an adventure writing and developing Mystery Rock,” Lang said. “The whole family got involved. We took the time to travel down to the area as a family and experience the locations. That is exactly what I want to encourage with the book and with the letterboxes that go along with the book.”

Lang and her family planted letterboxes that correspond with the locations in the book. She also launched a family travel blog – – to record their own journeys planting the letterboxes and following the paths set out in Mystery Rock.  “We have so many amazing sites right in our own backyard. I wanted to feature the locations and the events in a way that would encourage families to get excited about them and go experience them together,” Lang shared. You can learn more about the book and about letterboxing by visiting

Connecting tourism and literature has been a goal of Lang since she was introduced to the SouthEastern Literary Tourism Initiative (SELTI).  With background in tourism and a love for the written word combined with an awe for the wonders of her home state, Lang took the position of Executive Director of SELTI with the vision of bringing the publishing industry and tourism industry together for mutual growth and support. The launch of the middle school novel, Mystery Rock, brings tourism fiction to the interactive age with links to locations and hidden letterbox clues included in the novel.

Lang won the first SELTI short story contest in 2012 by featuring a mystery at Moundville Archaeological Park.  Digging Up Bones became the lead for her third Big Springs novel, but Lang wanted to do more to create a buzz about the location, activities and events. “It can be more than just writing about a great location or an interesting event – tourism literature can bring the place alive and drive the tourism to that location,” Lang said recently.

Senator Clay Scofield presented the 2012 and 2013 SELTI awards – both featuring North Alabama locations.  Sen. Scofield was instrumental in passing Senate Resolution SJR25 encouraging tourism literature.  “Now imagine what the impact would be on Alabama if all our writers were focusing on real tourism attractions in their stories across the state.  Here in the South we’ve always had the nation’s best storytellers, but in these difficult economic times our storytellers might even help the state by attracting more tourists,” Sen. Scofield shared at the 2012 SELTI awards at the Moundville Native American Festival.

The Honorable Bradley Byrne presented the 2014 SELTI award – the contest focused on the Mobile Bay area. Congressman Byrne expressed his enthusiasm over the potential that tourism literature could provide for Alabama saying “innovative methods of encouraging tourism would benefit all involved.”

Mystery Rock releases on Nov. 22, in electronic and print formats.  You can pre-order your copy through or through Lang’s author website at  The clues for the letterboxes will be posted on and


Frontier Days: a snapshot of the past

By Matt Okarmus, Montgomery Advertiser, Nov. 8

A historical site became a living and breathing classroom recently with Frontier Days at Fort Toulouse-Fort Jackson.

Taking place at the Wetumpka park, Frontier Days is a five-day event set to conclude Sunday. This year’s version kicked off Wednesday with the first day of field trips from local schools.

“We will have about 10,000 people here through the week,” said Ove Jensen, site director.
Started in 1996, Frontier Days has seen repeat visitors in unique ways.

“We’ve been doing this so long that we’ve had teachers come that said they first came as elementary students,” Jensen said.

As the park approaches the 20th anniversary of the event, Jensen looked back on how it started saying it was a conversation about the importance of life in the 18th and 19th centuries.

“We try to look at is a snapshot, see how people were living while they were here,” Jensen said.

The park is transported back to the 1700-1820 period, when the South transitioned from Creek Indian lands to military forts and civilian homesteads, the park’s website states.

Jensen spoke of the importance of the time period.

“People came here because of the rivers, including the military importance of those rivers,” he said. “It was just before the local cities began to take importance.”

Around the park were volunteers dressed in period attire, showing examples of everything from shooting arrows to cooking meals.

Cathy Price made the drive from Clay County to take part in the festivities, showing how to process acorns into food. It was her first time as a volunteer, but not her first visit to Frontier Days.

“After coming for several years as a spectator, I wanted to be a part of it,” she said.

Price said she was given reading lists to study and she spent Saturday explaining facts about using acorns as food, including that they must be soaked in water before being eaten and that they can be used in soups and stews.

She said she had “a lot of fun” and enjoyed getting questions.

“Though most people just weren’t aware you could eat acorns,” Price said.

Jensen said the interactive experience is the highlight of Frontier Days.

“Instead of just reading about history, you are seeing, smelling and hearing it,” he said.

To read the entire article, go to:

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Dec. 2 – 4                    Travel South International Showcase, New Orleans
Dec. 5 – 8                    Travel South International Super FAM to Alabama

January 27-28            State-wide Tourism Committee/Board Meetings, Wind Creek Wetumpka


Tourism Tuesdays 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