TOURISM TUESDAYS, October 21, 2014

  •  Alabama Bicentennial Commission names committees
  •  Bicentennial Commission unveils logo for “Alabama 200”
  •  ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ voted Greatest Song Ever Written about Alabama
  •  Barber Motorsports Park adds new track and skidpad
  • What a difference a year makes for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame
  • TripAdvisor awards Certificate of Excellence to nine Alabama state parks
  • $70 million Big Spring Square project will add to momentum in downtown Huntsville
  • Alabama’s Captivating Capital
  • Latest Forever Wild Land Trust tract located in Dothan
  • Nine of Alabama’s spookiest cemeteries
  • U.S. Treasury Department greenlights rules governing Gulf restoration projects
  • Poseidon’s Playground to offer variety for divers
  • Quilts at Belle Mont
  • Save the Date for the 2014 Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Alabama Bicentennial Commission names committees

The Alabama Bicentennial Commission announced committees and co-chairs for the state’s bicentennial commemoration at an Oct. 21, press conference at Constitution Hall Village.

The committees will focus on statewide initiatives, local activities and education related to the 200th anniversary of statehood.

“We wanted the committees in place early,” said Alabama Bicentennial Commission chair Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur). “With lead time, the talent on these committees can create programs that will have a lasting impact, especially in areas of education, tourism and economic development.”

Al Head, executive director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts, and Donna Cox Baker, editor-in-chief of Alabama Heritage magazine, will chair the Statewide Initiatives Committee. Their group will oversee traveling exhibitions, publications, documentaries and other statewide commemoration efforts.

Tami Reist, director of the North Alabama Lakes Tourism Association, and Carrie Banks of the Alabama League of Municipalities will lead the Local Activities Committee. Their committee will develop and support local activities, including history projects, festivals and historical marker dedications.

Steve Murray, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and Karen Porter of the Alabama State Department of Education, are co-leading the Education Committee. The committee will include a range of educational entities, including schools, museums and parks.

“We couldn’t be more fortunate to have this level of leadership,” noted Orr. “Alabama is going to set the standard for bicentennial commemorations.”

In late 2013, the Alabama Legislature and Gov. Robert Bentley established the Alabama Bicentennial Commission to promote and coordinate commemorative activities across the state. Executive director Jay Lamar said the commission seeks to encourage communities, schools, businesses and cultural institutions across Alabama to use the bicentennial to explore the state’s history and heritage, as well as create opportunities for the future.

The commission will begin active programs in 2017, following the sequence of events from the creation of the Alabama Territory in 1817 to the actual bicentennial date on Dec. 14, 2019.

For more information, visit or contact Jay Lamar at, 334-353-3163.


Bicentennial Commission unveils logo for “Alabama 200”     

The Alabama Bicentennial Commission recently unveiled a red, white and black logo dominated by a bold numeral 200 with an inset of the state outline to promote the upcoming anniversary of statehood.

The registered trademark will identify corporate sponsors that provide funding for the three-year celebration, chairman Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur said.

The logo, designed by state tourism department art director Tommy Cauthen, was unveiled during a quarterly board meeting at Alabama Constitution Village, the site where the state’s first constitution was written in the summer of 1819.

Executive director Jay Lamar said the commemoration begins in 2017 and culminates Dec. 14, 2019. The group’s website is


‘Sweet Home Alabama’ voted Greatest Song Ever Written about Alabama

By Cort Catliff,, Oct. 20

The polls are closed, folks. For the past three weeks Yellowhammer News readers have been voting for the greatest song ever written about Alabama. It was a brutal battle between old songs and new songs, classic favorites and unexpected underdogs. Plenty were worthy, but there could only be one winner.

Today, we finally have a champion.

Let’s take a look back at the final round.

“My Home’s in Alabama” by Alabama vs. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

It seemed obvious that these two songs would be facing off, and the race was the closest we’d seen throughout this series. In fact, after several days of voting, the two songs had each received exactly 50 percent of the vote. It doesn’t really get much closer than that. But “Sweet Home” pulled away over the weekend. The final tally was 51.1% to 48.9%.

“My Home’s in Alabama” is a sweeping ballad about following dreams, wandering, and eventually finding your way back home. It’s generally considered the song that propelled the band Alabama into stardom. In the beginning we hear the singer reminisce about his days as a young boy in Alabama, but we quickly follow him as he begins a journey across the country trying to make a name for himself in the music industry. No matter where he goes, he always remembers his home and dreams of the day when he’ll make it back to Alabama. “My Home’s in Alabama” is slow and thoughtful–the sound of spending one too many nights on the road.

“Sweet Home Alabama,” on the other hand, is a celebration of the South. Without a doubt, this is the most culturally important song ever written about Alabama–or any state, really. The intro guitar lick is immediately recognizable and infectious. It’s the sound of being on the lake with a cooler packed full of beer. Play this anthem at a party and everyone will be singing it at the top of their lungs within seconds.

Of course, the common thread throughout these songs is the idea of Alabama as home. I’ve only lived in the Yellowhammer State for about two months, but what I’ve noticed more than anything is the pride Alabamians have in their home state.

These songs are so intimately woven into Alabama culture not just because they’re catchy and fun to sing, but because they remind people that Alabama is so much more than just a geographic place to live. Alabamians living elsewhere might be drawn to “My Home’s in Alabama” while Alabama residents might find the celebratory tone of “Sweet Home Alabama” more relatable. But at the end of the day, both songs are saying the same thing: Alabama is indeed home — a sweet, sweet home.

To read the article online, go to:


Barber Motorsports Park adds new track and skidpad

By Bryan Davis, Birmingham Business Journal, Oct. 16

The Vintage Motorsports Museum and the Barber Motorsports Park have a new addition.

The Barber Proving Grounds, located adjacent to the current Barber track, will bring more events to the park that include product debuts, corporate outings and events, safety instruction, driver schools and autocross and kart events. Mercedes-Benz is the first customer for the new addition, using it for its employee “Brand Immersion Experience.”

“This new addition should draw more people to Birmingham and Alabama to visit, spend money, generate economic impact and have a great time,” said George Barber, the park’s founder. “It’s all about helping create a better Birmingham and Alabama.”

The Proving Grounds consists of a new track area and wet/dry skidpad.

Primarily asphalt, the track spans 24 feet in width and can be configured to a variety of lengths up to more than a mile.

The 150-foot-by-350-foot wet/dry skidpad allows drivers, notably test drivers of new factory products, to test traction limits under a variety of conditions.

Equipped with a banked bowl design that evokes the banked track at Daytona, the track’s design allows users to test vehicles’ limits in controlled environments.

The track joins one of the premier road courses in North America for car and motorcycle racing, along with the Barber Motorsports Museum, which contains the largest motorcycle collection in the world with more than 1,400 vintage and modern motorcycles.

To read the article online, go to:


What a difference a year makes for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame

By Russ Corey,, Oct. 18

A small but dedicated staff, hard-working volunteers, special events and the buzz created by an award-winning documentary have led to a successful comeback year for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and Museum, officials said.

The hall of fame reopened one year ago, and it capitalized on the attention the area received following the release of the “Muscle Shoals” documentary.

The hall of fame had been closed for about a year because of a lack of funding and was in danger of being moved out of the Shoals.

“The board would describe the past year since the opening as a success, an unquestioned success,” said Bill Newton, chairman of the hall of fame board of directors and acting state finance director. “The board has been pleased with the local support.”

Newton said there have been “dozens of volunteers” who have provided substantial assistance to the hall of fame and others who donated their time and labor to help. There have been people who volunteered to be guides at the hall of fame and help with fundraising events at the facility.

Lastly, Newton was extremely happy with the success of the first Alabama Music Hall of Fame awards banquet to be held in the Shoals. The sold-out event was held at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center in February.

“From my standpoint, there have been a lot of positives, but there’s still work to be done to get back some of the lost momentum,” Newton said.

Dixie Connell Griffin, the hall’s former marketing and education director, was tapped to become the general manager when the facility reopened.

Griffin said the hall of fame has hosted several special events since reopening in an effort to bring people through the doors.

“Since we reopened we definitely have tried to have more small events or small programs,” Griffin said.

Some programs are designed to entertain wile others are designed to educate.

The hall has hosted shows by the bluegrass band Iron Horse and the legendary guitarist Travis Wammack.

Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery and his wife, Charlene, who recently wrote a book about their relationship with country music legend George Jones, signed copies of the book at the hall.

The staff also started a series of events that focus on people in the music business who are often overlooked, like drummers and sound engineers. An event on drummers was held earlier this year and was both educational and entertaining.

Griffin said attendance for the past year as of early October was 10,800.

“We found some records from a couple years before that and we’re ahead a couple hundred,” she said.

What was missing in the past year was the large number of students who normally tour the hall of fame.

At one time, school groups were the hall of fame’s bread and butter.

Newton said the facility reopened after many systems had already scheduled field trips for last school year.

But officials say they expect more school groups in the next 12 months.

“Dixie was responsible for many years for bringing school groups to the hall of fame, and she has a great reputation with teachers,” State Tourism Director Lee Sentell said. “Our office is happy to provide the printing and postage to market field trips because young people are part of the core audience of any museum.”

Sentell is also a member of the hall of fame board of directors.

He said the State Tourism Office has approved a $250,000 grant request from the hall of fame board.

That money will be used to operate the hall of fame.

“The staff has done an exceptional job of organizing special events that honor and spotlight local members of the music industry,” Sentell said. “These events have been beneficial in giving credit and recognition to important contributors to the music scene as well as generating incremental revenue that supports the operations at the hall of fame.”

He said the efforts by the staff and volunteers have exceeded his expectations.

“The staff and volunteers are demonstrating their affection and respect for the museum,” Sentell said.

Former curator George Lair has gathered a group of volunteers to help the staff, and members of the local electrical and plumbers unions have pitched in to make repairs in those areas.

“Their enthusiasm encourages local people to return and in turn generates more traffic among first-time visitors,” Sentell aid.

While he is happy with the past year, Newton said there are still issues that will need to be addressed.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Newton said. “We’ve just been reopened for a year. There are a lot of projects that we’ll be working on in the upcoming years, some related to the facilities. We’ll look at those as opportunities.”

The hall of fame has received support from tourism organizations from Colbert and Lauderdale counties.

“This has been an amazing year for me, to get it back open and to have the support from our achievers, from the community and from our volunteers,” Griffin said.

To read the article online, go to:


TripAdvisor awards Certificate of Excellence to nine Alabama state parks

Martin J. Reed,, Oct. 15

Online travel site TripAdvisor has awarded its 2014 Certificate of Excellence to nine of Alabama’s largest state parks, including Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County.

The awards arrive as Alabama is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its state parks system this year. TripAdvisor utilized user ratings and reviews to determine award recipients.

“The reviews on TripAdvisor highlight the level of commitment we have to our visitors to provide a memorable trip,” Alabama State Park Director Greg Lein said in a press release. “We work hard to continually improve the parks to give our guests the best experience possible.”

In addition to the Alabama’s largest state park, Oak Mountain, getting the award, other recipients included Gulf State, Cathedral Caverns, Chewacla, DeSoto, Lakepoint, Monte Sano, Lake Guntersville and Joe Wheeler.

Award winners must maintain at least four out of five stars on TripAdvisor and be on the site for a minimum of one year to receive the honor.

“These awards are determined solely by users,” Lein said. “This shows that the outstanding work of our employees and partners in all our parks is paying off and going noticed by our visitors from around the world.”

The state park system noted that numerous improvements have happened at its venues around Alabama, including a cable-system for wakeboarding at Oak Mountain and a zip line course at Gulf State, which is opening a new dog park this year.

Various parks around the state have renovated cabins and lodges and developed new campsites.

“Our parks offer so much to visitors,” Lein said. “Many visitors are surprised at the options and amenities available at our parks.”

The state parks heavily utilize volunteers for its operations, which rely almost solely on user fees, according to the agency.

“I see this as an award to our staff, volunteers and the partners from so many communities who put in countless hours to keep our parks pristine,” Lein said. “The parks system is a huge source of pride for people across the state of Alabama.”


$70 million Big Spring Square project will add to momentum in downtown Huntsville

By Lucy Berry,, Oct. 14

Since announcing a major expansion at the old Stone Middle School in mid-August, Yellowhammer Brewery has experienced a noticeable uptick in downtown business.

When Central Realty Holdings of Greenville, S.C., launches a new $70 million mixed-use development in 2016 at the former Holiday Inn site, Yellowhammer General Manager Ethan Couch expects business will only continue to boom.

“I think it promotes even more synergy for the downtown area,” he told Tuesday. “And I think everybody benefits from having more choices.”

The city of Huntsville recently held a news conference to announce “Big Spring Square,” which will include a boutique-style hotel, offices, restaurants, shops and a residential component. Demolition of the Holiday Inn building is expected to begin next month with construction starting in April.

Solid Earth Chief Executive Officer and President Matt Fowler opened his real estate technology business in downtown Huntsville 16 years ago. Since then, he said there has been “a slow but discernible increase in activity” in downtown.

Giving credit to Belk Hudson Lofts and Downtown Huntsville, Inc. for bringing new life to the center city, Fowler said developments like Twickenham, Constellation and now Big Spring Square “will only add to that momentum.”

“Eventually, there will be a critical mass in downtown and a new community ecosystem will have been created,” he said. “This is great news for the pioneers since our ‘homesteads’ are worth quite a bit more now. The best part though is the new energy that exists. It’s a better place to live and work with more and different kinds of people in the space.”

“The plan of making this a more walkable and downtown-friendly city seems to be well on its way and we look forward to a bright future here.”

Curse, a gaming information company that moved its headquarters from San Francisco to downtown Huntsville last year, is also looking forward to more restaurant, residential and retail options at Big Spring Square. Vice President of Marketing Donovan Duncan said his firm regularly recruits employees from across the U.S.

“We love having close shopping and exciting living spaces for our employees,” he said. “The plan of making this a more walkable and downtown-friendly city seems to be well on its way and we look forward to a bright future here.”

Under the terms of the deal, Central Realty will lease the six-acre site for 99 years, paying $144,000 per year. Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Vice President Charles Winters said the development, once complete, will increase the overall number of hotel rooms near the Von Braun Center for conferences, meetings, concerts, trade shows and other events.

“The development will offer visitors and residents alike new dining, shopping and accommodation options in downtown Huntsville,” he said. ” … According to the latest estimates from the Alabama Tourism Department, the economic impact of the travel industry in Madison County is nearly $1 billion.”

To read the entire article, go to:


Alabama’s Captivating Capital
By Apryl Chapman Thomas, Southern Hospitality Traveler, fall issue

No doubt about it, history is a big part of Montgomery, Alabama, but there is a lot more to this capital city.

Home to theAlabama Shakespeare Festival,Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, and the Montgomery Biscuits, Montgomery is definitely a destination that everyone needs to visit at least once in their life.

Just one weekend here and you can discover what makes this capital city stand out from others.

Do learn the lay of the land withBlake’s Segway Tours.

“It’s more fun than a bus tour, and a great way to see the sites,” comment Jeff Blake, owner.

Offering three tours limited to groups of four, they range from a 45-minutes Riverfront Tour to a more in-depth Civil Rights/Civil War tour at about 2 hours.

Visit the many museums and historic venues that tell the stories about Montgomery’s past.

Civil War buffs should check out the First White House of Confederacy. It served as the residence for Confederate President Jefferson Davis during Montgomery’s reign as the Capital of the Confederacy.

For those who want to know more about Montgomery’s role during the Civil Rights Movement  need to make sure four places are on their itinerary: Rosa Parks Library and Museum and Children’s Wing,Freedom Rides Museum, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and the Dexter Parsonage Museum.

The Rosa Parks Library and Museum details the events and people associated with the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The exhibits include a replica of the public bus on which Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat (the original one is on display at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich.), and a restored 1955 station wagon that was used as a taxi to transport people during the boycott. The documents in the collection include a letter from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., dated December 1956 – his first letter as a Civil Rights activist.

Freedom Rides Museum, located at the historic Greyhound Bus Station, features the 1961 Freedom Rides art exhibit. Interpretive panels outside documents the events unfolded when young non-violent protestors, who wanted to end racial segregation in public transportation, stepped off the bus at the bus station.

Tour a living institution, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the only church where King pastored from 1954-1960. Completed in 1889, the congregation held its inaugural service in the sanctuary on Thanksgiving Day. The church was designated as a national historic landmark in 1974 and renamed for Dr. King in 1978.  While on the tour, notice the many details on the  10′ x 47′ mural honoring Dr. King’s work during the Civil Rights Movement. Created by retired art teacher and Dexter deacon John W. Feagin, it took him and two of his students two years to complete.

Restored to the time the King family lived at the house (1954-1960), the Dexter Parsonage Museum is filled with original pieces from the family as well as donated pieces. You can see the dining room table where the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was created, as well as the kitchen where Dr. King had an epiphany.

Great for all ages is a self-guided tour of Old Alabama Town, a 19th-century village. Within six blocks, the living history museum features restored and reopened authentic 19th- and early 20th-century homes and structures.

See the 1952 baby-blue Cadillac that Hank Williams died in while heading to Ohio at the Hank Williams Museum. Whether you are a country music lover or just curious about Williams, it is worth visiting the museum. Numerous personal items are only display, such as costumes, clothes, books, instruments and more.

Explore Blount Cultural Arts Park, home to Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Montgomery Museum of Art.

As the sixth largest Shakespeare theatre in the world, Eve Loeb, development director, calls the Alabama Shakespeare Festival  “the brightest star in Alabama’s arts crown.”
Opened in 1985, the theatre features around from eight to 10 theatrical productions, depending on the season. Performances include Shakespeare as well as other classics, contemporary works and musicals.

The Montgomery Museum of Art holds the distinction of being the oldest fine arts museum in the state. Free admission for the public, the collection features primarily American paintings, but also Old Master prints, southern regional art and more.

Get on the Alabama River with Harriott II. Departing from the Riverwalk, the riverboat takes a leisurely journey along the scenic river.

Eat very well while in Montgomery. With restaurants like Davis Cafe, TRUE in Old Cloverdale, Shashy’s Bakery & Fine Foods, Central in The Alley Station, Railyard Brewing Company, if you don’t remember a meal while visiting the city, you didn’t try hard enough. For a true Montgomery experience, be sure to make your way to Chris’ Hot Dogs, celebrating their 97th year in business.

Stay right the middle of it all. Downtown offers accommodations for all budgets and needs. You find everything from Hampton Inn to Doubletree to Embassy Suites to Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa here.

Did You Know

Montgomery is home to the world’s only F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum. The couple rented a house in Montgomery for a brief period, with their daughter, Scottie. Today, the museum houses different artifacts including Zelda’s cigarette holder, some of her artwork, a complete collection of Fitzgerald’s short stories and more, including a stamp collection that F. Scott and daughter Scottie worked on.

To read the article online, go to:


Latest Forever Wild Land Trust tract located in Dothan

Recreational trails planned for 2015-16

Recently, the Forever Wild Land Trust acquired 387 acres within the city limits of Dothan, Ala., in Houston County. The tract is located along Beaver Creek and will feature recreational trails that will be developed and maintained through a partnership between the State Lands Division and the City of Dothan. Trail planning will begin this fall and carry over into early 2015. Trail construction is scheduled to begin in September 2015.

State Lands Division Director Patti Powell said her staff is excited about the addition of a recreational tract in the southeastern part of the state because it will offer thousands of area residents access to the outdoors and provide potential tourism opportunities for Dothan and the surrounding Wiregrass area.


Nine of Alabama’s spookiest cemeteries

By Kelly Kazek,, Oct. 15

While I tend to think of cemeteries as peaceful spots to remember the dead, some might argue that all graveyards are creepy, especially after dark.

Still, there are those that have a spookier ambience than others and draw paranormal investigators or spawn ghostly legends.

As the haunting season approaches, here is a look at 9 of Alabama’s spookiest cemeteries (Remember: Cemeteries are closed at nightfall. If you visit, show respect for the dead and their families and don’t disturb the graves):

The cemeteries listed in the article are:

Bass Cemetery, Irondale

Consolation Church Cemetery, Red

New Cahaba Cemetery, Old Cahawba

Harrison Cemetery, Kinston

Church Street Graveyard, Mobile

Adams Grove Cemetery, Sardis

Oaky Streak, Butler County

Roden Cemetery, Marshall County

Union cemetery Woodville

To read the entire article online and access individual sites for the cemeteries, go to:


U.S. Treasury Department greenlights rules governing Gulf restoration projects

By Michael Finch,, Oct. 14

Efforts to rehabilitate the Gulf of Mexico received a boost recently after the U.S. Treasury announced the finalization of rules governing how oil spill restoration projects will be selected. The news comes one month after the federal government first released its interim final rule in September, allowing the public to comment on its decision.

Now states affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Horizon oil spill — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — can submit proposals for grants to receive money under the  Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act, better known as RESTORE.

Under the act signed into law in July 2012, Congress directed money from Clean Water Act fines to benefit the communities affected by the oil spill.

States will have a direct say how at least 35 percent of the money will be used. For Alabama, the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council, a body comprising local mayors, county commissioners and state leaders, will decide how the state’s portion of those funds will be spent.

“The fact that the rules are final means that the money can flow,” said Eliska Morgan, executive director for the state council. But not until the council selects a project, or until they first craft a project selection process, which must fall in line with the rules put forth by the treasury department.

Morgan said the council plans to meet again before the year has finished, but is no closer to outlining how it will make its decisions.

To date at least 58 projects have been submitted to the state council worth more than $430 million, ranging from beach nourishment studies to road projects.

At least $1 billion has been allocated to states under RESTORE from fines paid by Transocean Ltd. for its role in the environmental disaster. Halliburton agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle its case. Awaiting fines for BP and Anadarko remain unknown until the next phase of the ongoing trial begins in January 2015.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, a federal body comprised of representatives from the five Gulf states and six federal agencies, will allocate another 30 percent of the trust fund for projects also selected by the council and administer grants using an additional 30 percent.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will use 2.5 percent of the trust fund for improvements in monitoring, observation and technology; and the remaining 2.5 percent will go to the centers of excellence in every state.

The treasury department is one of several federal entities charged with implementing the RESTORE Act.

“Treasury is working in support of the states and communities that were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as they select environmental and economic renewal projects for funding,” David Lebryk, fiscal assistant secretary for the treasury department, said in a released statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with our state, county and parish partners on the awarding of these grants.”

To read the entire article, go to:


Poseidon’s Playground to offer variety for divers

By John Mullen, GulfCoastNewsToday, Oct. 14

Out there in the Gulf of Mexico there is this big ol’ barge that is accessible to just about all levels of divers.

It’s where instructor and marine photographer Lila Harris takes her classes. Not necessarily because she wants to, but because it’s about the only place available to her beginner and youth classes.

“If you’re 10 or 11 years old and you get certified you can only go 40 feet deep,” Harris said. “We have one barge, for the most part, called three-mile barge and it’s a rectangular barge. You go around and around and after three or four times the kids say ‘can’t we go somewhere else? We don’t want to go back to the three-miles barge.’”

Harris, with help from David and Stewart Walter of Walter Marine, is working to change that. Poseidon’s Playground is a dream of hers that will start taking shape toward the end of this month and will pretty much be a work in progress as items are added. Harris is also on the board of the Alabama Gulf Coast Reef and Restoration Foundation and this is a project being created by the foundation with assistance from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division (ADCNR/MRD).

“Part of my motivation for this project is for young divers,” she said. “There’s just nothing out there like it. The playground will be unique to not only our area, but also around the world.”

It’ll be a dive playground for divers of all levels with a variety of structures to explore, photograph and be photographed with. It won’t be a boring barge.

Harris said local businesses and civic groups can get involved as well by sponsoring a piece of art or statue.

“We will be encouraging local schools and/or youth groups to get involved to help raise money for a structure,” she said. “Certain levels of sponsorships will include a recognition plaque on the statue honoring those who donated.” Donations to the foundation are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

To read the entire article, go to:


Quilts at Belle Mont, Oct. 14

Belle Mont Mansion is hosting a Quilt Show at the museum now through Sunday, November 2.  The quilts may be viewed during Belle Mont’s regular hours, Thursday – Saturday, 9am-4pm, and Sunday 1-5pm.  Admission to the quilt show is free with the cost of admission to the historic house museum.  That cost is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, college students, and military with ID, and $3 for youths 6-18 years.  Children under 6 years are admitted free.

Belle Mont is owned by the Alabama Historical Commission and is considered one of the state’s most distinguished antebellum homes, reflecting Federal architecture in early Alabama.

The quilt show will feature a representative selection of quilts spanning 150 years along with award-winning modern quilts.  Quilts have been placed on loan by members of the Batting Brigade Quilt Guild, Colbert County Historical Landmarks Foundation, and others in the community.

Reduced rates are offered for groups of ten or more. Tours for these groups may be scheduled by calling the museum site director, Kara Long, at 256-637-8513.  Group tour reservations must be made in advance.

Belle Mont is located three miles south of the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 43 and U.S. Hwy. 72 on Cook Lane ¼ mile west of U.S. Hwy. 43 S. in Tuscumbia.  For more information, call Belle Mont at 256-381-5052.

To read the article online, go to:


Save the Date for the 2014 Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat

The 2014 Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat is set for Nov. 9-11, at Lakepoint Resort State Park in Eufaula.

The Welcome Center Educational Retreat continues to be a unique opportunity to update the Welcome Center staff on your organization, attractions, accommodations and special events. The registration fee is $150, which includes your meals on Sunday afternoon and dinner Sunday night; breakfast, lunch and dinner on Monday and the Monday night event, along with your booth setup on Monday.

The host hotel is Lakepoint Resort State Park and they are offering a rate of $61.95 plus tax for each night to all participating partners.

For registration and additional information, please contact:

Ann Sparks, 334-687-6664 or e-mail:

Trisa Collier, 256-423-3891 e-mail:

Jerry Hale, 205-392-5443 e-mail:


Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Nov. 3 – 6                   World Travel Market, London, England

Nov. 9 – 11                 2014 Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat

Dec. 2 – 4                    Travel South International Showcase, New Orleans

Dec. 5 – 8                    Travel South International Super FAM to Alabama



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.

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