Tourism Tuesdays February 17, 2015

  • Huffington Post (UK) profiles Selma
  • 50th Anniversary Selma to Montgomery Ride will commemorate the historic march
  • Focus on Alabama as Aussie agents preview a great film
  • After spending $25,000, Mobile Airport Authority learns Outlook show hosted by Ben Kingsley doesn’t exist
  • Paula Deen’s magazine names Auburn’s Chicken Salad Chick one of the 10 best in the U.S.
  • Renovations allow F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum to display new exhibits about the famous couple
  • Alabama State Parks invites you to explore redesigned website
  • 10 Best Botanical Gardens for Families: Huntsville Botanical Garden
  • Alabama Tourism at Alabama Bed and Breakfast Association meeting
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Huffington Post (UK) profiles Selma

By Mike Gerrard, Huff Post United Kingdom, Feb. 13

It’s about 50 miles from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama, and it’s 50 years this year since civil rights supporters made that walk three times. The release of the movie Selma tells the story of those walks, with David Oyelowo as civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jnr. King was first drawn into the civil rights movement – rather reluctantly – ten years earlier when he was a pastor in Montgomery. There, on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, and was arrested. The resulting year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott was a pivotal episode in the advancement of civil rights in the USA. Both anniversaries will show how trouble spots can eventually become tourist spots, and draw visitors to see those places where powerful events happened and history was made.

The first march in Selma took place on March 7, 1965. Organisers in Selma arranged the walk to draw attention to their demands for voting rights for black citizens, and their destination was the state capital in Montgomery. The walk had barely started, however, when the marchers were attacked by police and state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The unarmed marchers were greeted with tear gas and beaten with clubs on the day that became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’.

The bridge now stands as a landmark in civil rights history. Adjacent to the bridge, in Selma’s historic district, is the National Voting Rights Museum. The Martin Luther King Jr. Street Historic Walking Tour shows visitors the city’s 20 memorials commemorating Selma’s involvement in the fight for voting rights.

When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus on December 1, 1955 she set in motion the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The city’s black citizens refused to travel by bus, and instead made their way to work on foot, or using car pools. The boycott resulted in serious financial problems for the city’s transit system, and lasted until December 20, 1956, when segregated buses were declared unconstitutional.

Today by the spot where Rosa Parks was taken from the bus and arrested stands the Rosa Parks Library and Museum. This tells the powerfully moving story of Mrs Parks and her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. The story tells how an unknown preacher named Martin Luther King Jr also came to participate in the bus boycott, with some apprehension: his home was later bombed and his family’s lives were endangered.

Other Civil Rights sites in the city include the Civil Rights Memorial and Memorial Center, the Freedom Rides Museum, the Dexter Parsonage Museum in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s former home, and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where King was preaching during the bus boycott.

To read this article online, go to:


50th Anniversary Selma to Montgomery Ride will commemorate the historic march
By Caitlin Giddings,

The road between Selma and Montgomery is one that’s steeped in protest, bloodshed, and ultimately, progress—and on February 21, hundreds of cyclists will have the opportunity to trace its length and reflect on the area’s rich civil rights history.

The Montgomery Bike Club is holding a 50th anniversary ride to commemorate the Selma to Montgomery Voter Rights March, an act of defiance against the widespread discrimination and violence faced by African Americans trying to vote in the 1950s and 60s. The march influenced and ultimately led to Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 signing of the Voting Rights Act.

Dramatized in the film Selma, which detailed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s role in the events, the march represented a landmark moment in civil rights.

The Selma 50 Ride will give cyclists a chance to experience the route firsthand and stop at historical markers, where some of the original marchers will be on hand to share their stories and answer questions. Ride Director Bruce Herbitter says the event is about commemorating the area’s history, raising the visibility of Montgomery cycling, and—in the spirit of Dr. King’s vision—bringing people together.

“We know from our experience in the club that cycling unites a lot of people across a lot of different perspectives,” Herbitter says. “We have liberals and conservatives, religious and nonreligious people, and the only real arguments you hear are Campy vs. Shimano.”

The ride has already been so popular that the Montgomery Bike Club had to add more buses and close registration at 330 cyclists. Herbitter says only 70 participants are from Montgomery; roughly two-thirds of participants are from outside Alabama, representing at least 22 other states.

“That’s a huge selling point to the local government—bicycling is good for your business,” he says. “If you have something cyclists want to do or see, they’ll come, stay at your hotels, eat in your restaurants, and provide good things to your economy.”

Members of African American cycling groups like Black Girls Do Bike, the Metro Atlantic Cycling Club, and the multichapter Major Taylor Bicycling Club are among those planning to make the trip, Herbitter says. He hopes the event raises cycling awareness in the local African American community (he describes the Montgomery Bike Club as pretty “white-bread,” given the diverse racial makeup of the city)—and with motorists in general. He says the idea that cyclists belong on the road is still pretty new in Alabama, despite a new three-foot-passing ordinance.

“Drivers aren’t antagonistic to us, but they just don’t think to share the road with us,” he says. “So we want to show that all different types of people ride bikes—not just racer types in spandex on ten-thousand-dollar bicycles. People on regular bikes with regular bodies ride bikes. If folks see people who look like them doing it, they’ll be more open to doing it. We want to show people, hey this is cycling—everyone cycles.”

Participants in the ride, which starts at Selma’s Riverfront Park, can expect rolling terrain along the U.S. Highway 80 route, with no major hills. Three rest stops will provide opportunities to visit Lowndes Interpretive Center as well as the historic “tent city” where the marchers camped out.

The ride will end at the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke to a crowd of 25,000 supporters of voting rights. Participants will then be welcomed at the Dexter King Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. King served as pastor. The mayor of Montgomery will be on hand for a speech. All riders and volunteers will also have free access to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s civil rights memorial, featuring a powerful sculpture etched with the names of black Americans who lost their lives in the struggle for civil rights between 1954 and 1968.

If you’re not one of the lucky 330 participants of Selma 50 ride—the first and last of its kind, unless another is held when the march’s centennial anniversary rolls around—you can find out more of the area’s civil rights history here. If the ride is a logistical success, Herbitter says the club will hold Martin Luther King, Jr., Day rides annually starting in 2016.

To read the article online, go to:

Focus on Alabama as Aussie agents preview a great film
By Peter Needham,, Feb. 12

A select group of Sydney travel agents enjoyed a special pre-release screening of Selma, the blockbuster movie produced by Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey with filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

Selma will screen in Australian cinemas later this month. Its release coincides with the 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama. The film tells the story of those marches and the tumultuous struggles of Martin Luther King. The film is expected to bring thousands of visitors to this historic Alabama city this year.

The Australian preview, arranged by Alabama Tourism and Travel South USA?, was held in the perfect cinematic venue, Hoyts Premium Lux Cinema in Sydney’s Broadway. A VIP lounge there features super-luxe seating, just like airline business class of the plush, older sort. Press a button and a leg-rest comes up to horizontal. Press another and the seat reclines way back. Drinks and food are delivered while you watch the screen!

Geoffrey Hutton, whose Kent Marketing represents Travel South USA in Australia, recently toured Alabama. He outlined the impressive natural and manmade attractions the state has to offer visiting Australians. A short film screened before Selma showed some of them. There are some stunning golf courses in Alabama.

The film highlighted the Civil Rights Memorial Centre, amazing food and music experiences and for golfers the Robert Trent-Tones Golf Trail with 11 championship golf courses across the state.

Other appealing features of Alabama range from gracious Southern mansions to phenomenal barbecues, top Marriott and Renaissance spas – even the world’s largest motorcycle museum.

Selma, the film, should work well for tourism to Alabama. With four Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director and Best Actor, Selma won the award for Best Original Song (motion picture) for ‘Glory’. It’s also nominated for the 87th Academy Awards (the Oscars) to be announced on 22 February 2015 in Hollywood.

“Selma could be propelled to a Best Picture win as much by the Academy members’ political consciences as by the film’s undeniable power,” says Time magazine.

The film is expected to increase awareness of the historical sites in both Selma and Montgomery. The Alabama Tourism Department includes those locations in The Alabama Civil Rights Trail, a pamphlet, mobile app and tourist information webpage.

Two important American civil rights anniversaries in Alabama fall this year. As well as the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march, it’s the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In 1955, Rosa Parks, a renowned African-American civil rights campaigner, fought racial segregation in Alabama by refusing to obey a bus driver’s order to give up her seat to a white passenger.

Alabama has come a long way since the 1960s, when its flamboyant governor, George Wallace, proclaimed, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever!”

Segregation has long gone but the barbecue lives on! 2015 has been designated The Year of Alabama BBQ. The state specialises in succulent, slow-cooked food. Alabama has a higher percentage of barbecue restaurants than any other US state.

The Original Greenbrier Bar-B-Que near Huntsville opened its doors nearly 60 years ago, serving some of the best hickory-smoked meats in the state. In 1958, John “Big Daddy” Bishop opened his first Dreamland in Tuscaloosa where for years he served only ribs and white bread. The legendary ribs, service and atmosphere are available in our other locations throughout Alabama.

Alabama is big on the music front too. A historic marker commemorating the site where “When A Man Loves A Woman” was recorded has been unveiled in Sheffield, Alabama. The marker’s site is where Quin Ivy’s North Alabama Recording Studio (NORALA) was located.

NORALA was one of many studios in the Muscle Shoals area. It was proclaimed the Hit Recording Capital of the World in the 1960s. Another historic marker was placed in late 2014 at the site of the former Holiday Inn in Florence, where the Rolling Stones stayed during their December 1969 recording session at Muscle Sounds Studios in Sheffield.

During the course of three days, the Stones recorded three songs: Brown Sugar, Wild Horses and the blues standard You Got to Move.

Motorcycle enthusiasts visiting Alabama are in for a treat. Guinness World Records has officially proclaimed the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum the world’s largest motorcycle museum.

Birmingham businessman and long-time motorcycle collector George Barber built the museum and racing park.

According to the official Guinness record, the five-story museum houses the world’s largest collection of vintage and contemporary motorcycles, with 1398 unique exhibits. There are motorcycle exhibits from more than 100 countries.

The museum also has a collection of around 60 Lotus race cars.

To read this article online, go to:


After spending $25,000, Mobile Airport Authority learns Outlook show hosted by Ben Kingsley doesn’t exist
By Michael Finch,, Feb. 15

The Mobile Airport Authority paid thousands of dollars for videos to showcase the city’s airports to TV viewers for a program to be hosted by Academy Award-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley. But similar contracts have raised concerns among television stations around the US.

Two weeks ago, the Airport Authority rolled the videos out on YouTube. In a news release, officials said the five-minute mini-documentary and one-minute commercial were elements of a series titled 21st Century Aviation: Cities in Motion.  Both were produced by Outlook Television, at a cost of upwards of $25,000.

The videos have been “distributed to public television stations in all 50 states,” and will be shown “continuously throughout the next year” as part of the Outlook series, according to the news release.

At least one local cable provider has confirmed that the 1-minute commercials have aired in Mobile. But there’s scant evidence of when or where the mini-documentary will actually air on public television. And there’s even less proof that the Outlook show exists.

Nationally, over the years, both businesses and nonprofits have reported questionable solicitations by video producers pitching opportunities to participate in mini-documentaries set for public television, usually connected to celebrity hosts. A number of these pitches turned out to be money-making ruses, according to news accounts.

According to information given to the Mobile Airport Authority, Outlook was set for hosting by Kingsley. Lawyers for the English actor say that the relationship with Outlook was terminated in the summer of 2013. That’s around same the time, however, that Airport Authority officials were considering the deal, eventually signing a contract at the beginning of August.

“I don’t know if it’s a real show or not and I don’t know if it’s ever been broadcast, but I can tell you unequivocally that Ben Kingsley is not affiliated with that program or that show whatsoever,” said Brian Wolf,  who represents the actor with the law firm Lavely and Singer in Los Angeles.

“There had been a preliminary agreement that had been entered into between Ben Kingsley and a company called Crown Media about two years ago in 2013. He was contemplating, perhaps, hosting one segment of this show called Outlook.”

Spot checks with PBS stations turned up nothing about a show named Outlook.  For example, representatives of PBS affiliates in Houston, St. Louis, Kansas City and Nashville, each relatively large markets named in the news release, said they hadn’t heard of Outlook and didn’t air it.

Said Justin Harvey, the director of content at Tennessee Public Television in Nashville, “There are incarnations of shows like this where a producer gets a celebrity host and they charge organizations to produce the program and they make it available to public television stations, but I am not aware of any stations that airs it.”

In fact, PBS posted a permanent statement on its website, clarifying that it does not have any business relationship with Outlook Television, the Outlook show or similar shows.

The end of the statement reads:  “It is important to note that producers of programs distributed by PBS do not solicit fees from individuals or organizations in return for inclusion in their programs.”

PBS also offers links to news stories published by The New York Times, NPR and The Washington Post, which detail the solicitation tactics by another South Florida production company, Vision Media.

Sometime in the middle of 2013, the Airport Authority first received a call from the firm. Reluctant at first, officials said they decided to move forward with the deal after doing some research of their own.

“We had some questions at first,” said Roger Wehner, the Airport Authority’s executive director. “I’ll be honest with you the conversations were just a little too slick.” It helped, Wehner said, that the company was endorsed by someone they knew and vouched for them.

According to the contract, the base cost for the work was about $25,000. And there was an additional $3,000 for what was described as a “location fee.” Crown Media, a Pompano Beach, Fla. company, was to produce both videos.

The Outlook series was supposed to delve into several topics. Its segments would discuss the latest developments in medicine, or the popularity of green products. Some public television stations air what’s known as interstitials — short videos that typically spotlight a local institution — between major programs.

The Airport Authority’s longer segment would have fallen into a similar category, presented as something “educational in nature.” The contract also states that airing the interstitial segment is at each station’s discretion.

Mark Miller, owner of Crown Media, said the longer TV spots have not yet been distributed to public television stations. He also said the company never named specific PBS affiliates in its negotiations with the Airport Authority.

He said the programming is provided free of charge and that Crown Media doesn’t receive any fees from public television stations. He added that their clients also walk away with the rights to air the videos which could be used for marketing purposes.

Miller would not provide any information clarifying how the spots will be broadcast on public television stations. He also said Crown Media reached an agreement in October 2013 for Kingsley to leave the project sooner than expected.

Early attempts to market the program identified the actor as the host, but it’s unclear if the Airport Authority knew he had walked away from the hosting job. Miller says that they did, but the contract was never amended.

“We’re not hiding anything, if we made a mistake,” Wehner said. “I would like to believe that this transpired and changed after the Kingsley relationship, after we did our deal.”

Kingsley’s lawyer sees it a little different.

“Even if they did (act) in good faith,” Wolf said. “I would think they would have an obligation to go back to the airport and any of their other clients and say ‘by the way: Ben Kingsley is not affiliated with this and we can’t promote the show as Outlook with Ben Kingsley.'”

To read this article online, go to:


Paula Deen’s magazine names Auburn’s Chicken Salad Chick one of the 10 best in the U.S.
By Bob Carlton,, Feb. 17

Cooking with Paula Deen magazine has named Auburn-based Chicken Salad Chick as one of the best places in country to try chicken salad.

A section in the magazine titled “Ten to Try” features a different dish in each issue and lists 10 places to find that food.

The new March/April issue, which arrives on newsstands today, lists Chicken Salad Chick as the first place to try chicken salad.

The magazine mentioned Chicken Salad Chick’s humble beginnings, its recent growth and its 15 varieties of flavors.

“We are extremely honored to be featured in such an esteemed publication,” Chicken Salad Chick founder Stacy Brown said in a media release. “Our team strives to provide a true chicken salad experience to each of our guests, and we hope that this recognition will allow us to serve new guests in our growing number of restaurants across the Southeast.”

Here’s what Cooking with Paula Deen wrote about Chicken Salad Chick:

“Chicken Salad Chick came out of Stacy Brown’s desire to find the perfect chicken salad. After trying every chicken salad she came across, Brown began working in her kitchen to come up with the prefect recipe. When she was sure she had created it, she began selling it out of her home.

“She opened her first store in Auburn, Alabama, and now has 26 locations and 15 flavors of chicken salad. The Classic Carol is the one that started it all, but other popular flavors include the Jazzy Julie, Fancy Nancy and Sassy Scotty.”

Brown started making her chicken salad out of her kitchen in her home in Auburn in 2007, and after a little run-in with the health department that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, she and her husband and business partner, Kevin Brown, have turned it into a little empire with locations now scattered throughout the Southeast.

To read this entire article online, go to:


Renovations allow F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum to display new exhibits about the famous couple
By Amber Sutton,, Feb. 16

Fans of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald now have the opportunity to learn more about the famed author and his wife thanks to recent renovations at a Montgomery museum dedicated to the couple.

The F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, which is located in the only surviving former home of the transient couple, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating the life and works of the Fitzgeralds.

While it has been in operation since 1986, this is the first time the entire downstairs of the residence will be included as part of the museum. Rooms that once were the Fitzgeralds’ great room, study, kitchen and second sun porch will now serve as part of the museum and feature an array of new displays and exhibits about their lives.

“For 25 years, this was basically a two room show,” said the museum’s curator Willie Thompson. “Today, we have exhibits in seven rooms and that includes all of the downstairs of the house. So our square footage has more than doubled, and our number of exhibits has basically doubled as well.”

New exhibits that will now be featured in the museum include the earliest known series of paper dolls created by Zelda Fitzgerald, a rotating exhibit of the Esquire magazines featuring Fitzgerald’s last short stories as well as correspondence between Fitzgerald and his close friend and literary critic Edmund Wilson that has never previously been on display.

Thompson said the museum also plans to recreate the 318-book library that Fitzgerald had when he died in addition to installing a media center with audio/video exhibits about the Fitzgeralds in early 2016.

“Because we’re the only Fitzgerald museum in the world, we tell the whole story of their lives,” said Thompson. “We’ve had items in storage that we couldn’t have on display since we didn’t have room for it. These renovations give us the opportunity to share so much more with visitors.”

The F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum is located at 919 Felder Avenue. Its hours are 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday as well as 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Donations are asked for admission.

To read this article online, go to:

Alabama State Parks invites you to explore redesigned website

Alabama State Parks has launched its newly redesigned website, The new site features a more user-friendly layout, improved website navigation, park maps, individual park photo galleries, social media links, event listings and much more. The new is also compatible with mobile devices, which makes researching the parks on the go more accessible.

According to Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein, the main goal of the redesign was to give park visitors a better way to explore their favorite parks and to provide that information in a more uniform way.

“During last year’s 75th anniversary celebration, we received lots of input from park visitors on how to improve their experience at our parks,” Lein said. “The website redesign should provide a much better online experience for our visitors and partners when planning a trip to one of Alabama’s 22 state parks.”

Alabama State Parks partnered with Alabama Interactive to develop the new user-friendly design. Alabama Interactive is the official e-government solutions provider for the state of Alabama. The company builds websites, online services, and secure payment processing solutions on behalf of the state and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the e-government firm NIC.

From accommodation listings and reservations to outdoor activities and park events, explore the new today and plan your next Alabama adventure.

The Alabama State Parks Division operates and maintains 22 state parks encompassing approximately 48,000 acres of land and water. These Parks rely on visitor fees and the support of other Partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations.  To learn more about Alabama State Parks, visit

10 Best Botanical Gardens for Families: Huntsville Botanical Garden, Feb. 11

The Huntsville Botanical Garden has a two-acre Children’s Garden made up of eight separate gardens. The Storybook Garden has a pergola, wishing well, a hidden garden gate and references to popular fairy tales. The Bamboo Garden lets children learn all about the fast-growing bamboo and the objects that can be made from it, including cutting boards, musical instruments, fishing poles and bridges. The Children’s Garden is also home to a real Space Station node, wading pool, kaleidoscopes, labyrinth and a tree-house.

View the miniature Garden Railway, complete with 1,000 plants, two ponds, a stream, a church, fire station, restaurant and a waterfall. Explore the Vegetable Garden which offers practical home gardening tips, and the Herb Garden with a quaint herb cottage. There is also the Lewis Birding Trail, Garden of Hope, the Fern Glade and many other unique features (website).

To read this article online, go to:

Alabama Tourism at Alabama Bed and Breakfast Association meeting

Alabama Tourism Department staff member Grey Brennan spoke at the Alabama Bed and Breakfast Association meeting in Birmingham this month.  Brennan told the group of the latest tourism marketing plans and offered suggestions on how individual member B&Bs can work with the Alabama Tourism Department as well as how the association can become an industry partner.

The meeting was held at the Hassinger Daniels Mansion Bed and Breakfast, which Brennan toured.  The Alabama Bed and Breakfast Association has more than 20 active Bed and Breakfast establishments as members.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Feb 20 – 22                 Outdoor Adventure Show – Toronto, Canada
Feb 20 – Mar 1           Louisville Golf Show – Louisville, KY
Feb 20 – Mar 2           Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show – Indianapolis, IN
Feb 20 – 22                 Toronto Golf & Travel
Mar 4                          Ft. Rucker Extravaganza – Ft. Rucker, AL
Mar 4 – 8                    ITB/International Tourism Exchange Berlin (Trade & Consumer) – Berlin, Germany
Mar 6 – 8                    Dallas Golf Show – Dallas, TX


 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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