Tourism Tuesdays January 27, 2015

  • Alabama Tourism Dept. prepares for Selma to Montgomery anniversary tourists
  • Alabama’s RTJ Golf Trail top ranked in guest satisfaction
  • Point Clear Cottages earns spot on TripAdvisor‘s Top 25 listing of best B&Bs in U.S.
  • 100 Alabama-based ‘Southern Makers’ worth supporting in 2015
  • Birmingham chosen as site for 2021 World Games
  • Meet the Smithsonian at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • National Trail extends Walking Classroom application deadline
  • State senator interested in buying Victoria Inn
  • Confederate Memorial Park reveals part of state’s heritage
  • Blakeley State Park adds new assistant director
  • Emeril Lagasse in Birmingham
  • Capitol clock ticking again
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Alabama Tourism Dept. prepares for Selma to Montgomery anniversary tourists

By Allen Henry, WSFA TV, Jan. 23

The Alabama Tourism Department is preparing for thousands to travel to Alabama and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March.

“Committees from Selma and Montgomery and other towns have been meeting together for about a year to plan the activities that are going to be taking place throughout the month of March,” said Lee Sentell, Director of the Alabama Department of Tourism.

Although the President’s visit to Selma was only recently confirmed, event planners like the Department of Tourism have been preparing for the possibility since the very beginning.

“The national parks service has been saying for about a year that they expected President Obama to participate and the fact that it’s official now, is adding another level of excitement,” Sentell said. “A lot of big plans have been made and of course all of this things get changed with secret service comes in and they say ‘Oh ok. We know what your plans are but this is what’s going to happen.'”

With the film Selma winning awards and being shown in theaters around the world, the Department of Tourism is taking advantage of the opportunity to market to a global audience.

“We are one of the sponsors of the London premiere of the movie Selma that will be next Tuesday night in London. The cast and crew will be there. We have a representative that will be there and a 30 second commercial inviting people to come to Alabama and see the real Selma…will be in theatres in London for 3 weeks,” Sentell said.

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Alabama’s RTJ Golf Trail top ranked in guest satisfaction

By Hunter Robinson,, Jan. 26

Four out of the five top Marriott or Renaissance Hotels for golf satisfaction in North America are located on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa in Hoover was named the number one Marriott or Renaissance Hotel in North America for golf satisfaction.

The Auburn/Opelika Marriott Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National finished second in the rankings, and the Marriott in Prattville at Capitol Hill finished fourth.

The Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Pt. Clear, AL rounded out the top five, finishing fifth for golf experience.
These rankings are determined by an outside research firm hired by Marriott International for its 448 full-service Marriott and Renaissance Hotels in North America.

“Having four of the top five Marriott or Renaissance Hotels in North America is remarkable and the result of a great team of hard workers,” said John Cannon, president of Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. “We want our hotel guests and others to have a great experience when playing our courses. From making reservations to greeting guests to making sure bunkers and greens are pristine, our team goes above and beyond to make our visitors happy. That hard work has paid off for both the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and its Resort Collection, which contains both Marriott and Renaissance Hotels.”

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Point Clear Cottages earns spot on TripAdvisor’s Top 25 listing of best B&Bs in U.S.
By Marc D. Anderson,, Jan. 22

For the second time in three years, a Fairhope bed and breakfast has earned national recognition.

Point Clear Cottages, owned and operated by Robert Berglin, was ranked No. 2 on TripAdvisor’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice Top 25 listing for best B&Bs and Inns in the United States.

Berglin’s family roots run deep in Fairhope. His grandfather, Adolph Berglin, first moved to the city from Wisconsin in 1896 and served as one of its first mayors, according to the B&B’s website.

In 2013, the bayfront hideaway on Scenic 98, about a half a mile north of the Grand Hotel, held the top spot on the same listing by TripAdvisor, which calls itself the “largest travel site in the world” with branded sites “reaching 315 million unique monthly visitors, and more than 200 million reviews and opinions covering more than 4.4 million accommodations, restaurants, and attractions.”

The Welsh Hills Inn in Granville, Ohio, took the top honors for 2015. Rounding out the Top 5 are The Mission Inn in Cape May, New Jersey, at No. 3, followed by The Chalet of Canandaigua in Canandaigua, New York, and Saltwater Inn in Belmar, New Jersey.

According to a TripAdvisor news release, the 2015 Travelers’ Choice award winners were “determined based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected in a single year from TripAdvisor travelers worldwide.”

Reviews of Point Clear Cottages on TripAdvisor include photographs of bayside lounging at the two guesthouses, prepared food, piers running out into Mobile Bay and many sunsets.

For a complete listing of TripAdvisor‘s Top 25 B&Bs and Inns in addition to other listings, visit

To read the entire article, go to:

100 Alabama-based ‘Southern Makers’ worth supporting in 2015
By Steve Doyle,, Jan. 23

One hundred fashion designers, winemakers, farmers, chefs, folk artists and other craftsmen from every corner of Alabama just earned a new title: 2015 Southern Maker.

The annual list celebrating Southern creativity and innovation culminates with a two-day Southern Makers festival, scheduled for May 2-3 at downtown Montgomery’s Union Station Train Shed. Visit for ticket details.

“It’s one of the premier artisan events throughout the Southeast,” Chad Emerson, CEO of Downtown Huntsville Inc., said Friday. “Being selected to participate really is a great honor and validates someone as an Alabama artisan.”

This year’s winners include popular clothing designers (Billy Reid and Natalie Chanin), craft beer makers (Straight to Ale, Brew Stooges, Back Forty, Railyard Brewing); artisanal food producers (The Hummus People, Hot Damn Jelly, Wickles Pickles, Stone Hollow Creamery), celebrated Alabama restaurants (Chez Lulu and Odette); even a broommaker (George’s Broom Closet).

Southern Makers said the winners were selected by a curating committee from among more than 200 applicants.

For the complete list of 2015 attendees, go to:

Birmingham chosen as site for 2021 World Games
By Joseph D. Bryant,, Jan. 22

Thousands of athletes and spectators from 100 countries around the globe will converge upon Birmingham for the 2021 World Games.

The International World Game Executive Committee just announced its selection of Birmingham from among the three finalists vying for the international games. Birmingham beat Lima, Peru and Ufa, Russia for the event.

Supporters of Birmingham’s bid are hailing this announcement as a coup for the city, region and state. Landing the event could have a $256.5 million economic impact to the Birmingham region.

The World Games are held every four years.

“Winning the bid to host the 2021 World Games is a tremendous opportunity for the city of Birmingham in so many different ways,” explained Darin W. White, Samford University professor of marketing and coordinator of the sports marketing program.

White, who is familiar with the planning of Birmingham’s bid, said winning the games has an impact well beyond athletics.

“It gives us the opportunity to create a positive and lasting legacy for our great city. It will spark dialogue and cooperation among the dozens of communities that make up Birmingham and allow us to build bridges that cut across racial and socioeconomic lines,” he told “The World Games will bring tremendous positive energy to our community that encourages us to strive to be the best in all we do and foster hope and a belief in ourselves as we witness over four thousand world class athletes from over 100 different nations compete.”

Birmingham’s bid also represents a broader effort to bring the event to the U.S.  It hasn’t been played here since 1981 when the first games were held in Santa Clara, Calif.

To read the entire article, go to:

Meet the Smithsonian at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center

History comes alive this week as the U.S. Space & Rocket Center hosts Dr. Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian Institute’s Undersecretary for History, Art and Culture, for a talk and book signing on Thur., Jan. 29, at 2 p.m. The talk takes place at the Center’s National Geographic Theater in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration.  Dr. Kurin is also speaking at the Center’s “Inventors’ Ball” on Jan. 29, at 6 p.m.

Dr. Kurin’s afternoon presentation includes a fascinating journey through America’s collective memory as documented in his book, “The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects.” For the book, Dr. Kurin culled from the Smithsonian Institution’s vast collection of 137 million items, ultimately choosing the objects that highlight some of the iconic moments and figures in American history, such as the Wright Brothers’ first flight, Mickey Mouse and R2D2.

Following his talk, Dr. Kurin will sign copies of his book, and Christina DiMeglio Lopez, External Affairs and Membership Manager, Smithsonian Affiliations, will welcome Center members and Smithsonian magazine subscribers.  She will have on hand courtesy copies of the magazine and information about reciprocal benefits at 40-plus Smithsonian Affiliate museums across the country.  The Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that reaches local communities through museums and educational organizations.

The talk and book signing is included with Center admission and is free of charge to Center and Smithsonian members. To pre-order books, call 256-721-7120. For more information about the Inventors’ Ball, visit

National Trail extends Walking Classroom application deadline
National Park Service, Jan. 15

The National Park Service invites 18-25 year olds across the country to apply to participate in the 50th anniversary commemorative Walking Classroom that honors the events and people of the successful 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail (NHT) is extending the application period for youth (ages 18-25) to participate in this historic event. There are only 150 spots for this 5 day event, so we encourage you to apply now.  The Walking Classroom begins in Selma Alabama on Fri., March 20, and concludes on the Capital steps in Montgomery Wed., March 25.  Participants will walk 35 of the 54-mile route in the footsteps of those who marched 50 years ago. While camping along the way, they will have the opportunity to discuss the experience with people who were involved in the actual event in 1965 and consider the ramifications of the historic march today.

The application period for this once in a lifetime opportunity has been extended to Fri., Jan. 30.  Applicants must be US citizens between the ages of 18-25.

For more information, go to:

State senator interested in buying Victoria Inn
By Patrick McCreless, The Anniston Star, Jan. 26

Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, submitted an approximately $2 million proposal recently to purchase and renovate the city-owned Victoria Inn. If the deal goes through, the city of Anniston will get the hotel back into private hands as planned when it bought the building more than a year ago. Meanwhile, Marsh will get to save a historic structure and help with the redevelopment of the city’s struggling downtown.

Marsh submitted his proposal through his development company, Marsh Properties Inc. The Quintard Avenue property containing the historic Queen Anne-style home and related buildings is appraised at approximately $2.9 million, according to county tax records. The Victoria has a restaurant and the hotel section has 63 rooms.

“I think the Victoria Inn has always been an asset to the city and for it to continue to be so, it should be in private hands,” Marsh said.

City Manager Brian Johnson said that although other developers had inquired about the inn, Marsh was the only person to submit a formal proposal. The city has had the Victoria up for sale ever since it declared the property surplus in December.

“It’s a legitimate, well-thought-out proposal,” Johnson said of Marsh’s proposal.

To read the entire article, go to:


Confederate Memorial Park reveals part of state’s heritage

By Harry D. Butler, The Gadsden Times, Jan. 17

A remark in a national news article about Alabama “still believing the Civil War is not over” piqued my interest in a sign along Interstate 65 north of Montgomery that I’ve seen for years, but had no idea what it was about.

Like many Alabamians who travel that road, I always thought I would “check out that place” — Confederate Memorial Park — the next time we were in the area.

Well, the other day, my wife and I did so and got a joyful surprise — history buffs that we are, shocked may have been a better word — to learn a bit of our state’s heritage we had never known before.

A brochure detailing the 47 sites on Alabama’s historic Civil War Trail tells of a 102-acre park in Chilton County that includes our state’s only Confederate soldiers’ home, the residence of hundreds of war veterans and widows between 1902 and 1939. Also on the grounds are two cemeteries, a church, a post office, trails and pavilions. A unique museum tells the story of the men whose conduct left a legacy of bravery, honor and devotion to duty during wartime, and courage in the face of adversity during peacetime. The museum has an extensive collection of Civil War uniforms, weapons and equipment. The gallery pays homage to the rank and file.

Included are many rare artifacts. One is a colored ambrotype (a type of picture on glass) that shows a soldier who lost his trigger finger during the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia. Another is a horse blanket made of Spanish moss because of the shortage of wool. A most interesting exhibit is that of a mounted Confederate trooper, Capt. N.H.R. Dawson, Company C, 4th Alabama Infantry. His wife, Elodie, was the half-sister of Mary Todd, who married Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States during the war.

Interest in the “War Between the States” is worldwide, according to Park Director Bill Rambo. “We had 14,000 visitors the past year; they came from all over the United States,” he said. “In the past two years, every state has been represented, and … such countries as Sri Lanka, England, French Guyana, Sweden and many others. Foreign visitors have their trips all planned; they know a lot about the Confederacy.”

According to park literature, Alabama in 1900 counted more than 2,000 survivors of the Southern armies that had surrendered 35 years before. Many were infirm because of age or physical disability and no less than a hundred of the old ex-Confederates were living in county poorhouses.

Since the federal government granted pensions only to Union veterans, their Confederate counterparts depended on whatever stipends were available from the individual Southern states. Alabama paid these men small pensions.

Montgomery lawyer Jefferson M. Falkner, a Confederate veteran, decided to do something to provide a comfortable home for his aging former comrades. The area then known as Mountain Creek was a summer resort area, and Falkner donated 80 acres of land for the construction of the home. After a vigorous fundraising effort and a successful campaign to have the state take over administration of the facility and provide desperately needed operating funds, it grew to include 22 buildings.

The new appropriations transformed the tranquil wooded hills into an impressive complex. In addition to cottages for the residents, there was a hospital, administration building, mess hall, dairy barn, an elaborate water and sewage system and more. At its height, the home was the residence of 91 Confederate veterans and 19 widows of veterans. Over the years, it’s estimated that as many as 800 people lived at the site. The majority had served in Alabama outfits, but many were from other Confederate states who moved to the state in their aging years. The park has two cemeteries containing the graves of more than 300 Confederate soldiers.

Erma Dennis has worked at the park since its grand opening 21 years ago. She is the cultural resources assistant, knows every “nook and cranny” of the site and delights in telling of the history of the park and the museum’s exhibits.

She explained that in order for a veteran to be admitted to the home, “He must have been an Alabama resident for two years with an honorable service record and a yearly income of less than $400; if applying with his wife, they must have been married at least five years and she must be 60 years or older.”

After the home closed in 1939, the care of the two cemeteries was assigned to the State Soil Conservation Service, and for many years afterward the site was all but forgotten.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans rekindled interest in the site. The Alabama Legislature in 1964 created Confederate Memorial Park on the site of the Alabama Confederate Soldiers’ Home as a “shrine to the honor of Alabama’s citizens of the Confederacy.”

The park is 11 miles from Clanton, at 437 County Road 63 in Marbury. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and is closed on state and federal holidays. Group tours and programs are available by calling 205-755-1990.

To read the entire article, go to:



Blakeley State Park adds new assistant director, Jan. 22

Blakeley State Park has named Mike Bunn to the position of assistant director adding needed strength in several areas of the historic site’s operations, Jo Ann Flirt, Blakeley director, announced this week.

Bunn resigned his position as executive director of the Historic Chattahoochee Commission, an organization of 18 Alabama and Georgia counties in the Chattahoochee River Valley, to join the Blakeley staff effective this month.

Bunn holds masters’ degrees both in higher education administration and history from the University of Alabama as well as a graduate certificate in public history from the University of West Georgia.

In addition to leading the Chattahoochee Commission since 2011, Bunn served as curator of history at the Columbus, Ga. Museum and prior to that as assistant curator of exhibits at the Old Capitol Museum of Mississippi History, Jackson, Miss. for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

“Mike brings tremendous skills and strengths to Blakeley in its mission not only to operate as a public park but also to interpret the site’s national historic, natural resources, and cultural significance.”, Flirt said. “We have worked together for three years in our respective roles as agency directors. I am proud that he consented to join Blakeley in our continuing mission.”, she added.

Bunn has written or co-authored books on the Creek War, Civil War in Alabama, and the history of the Chattahoochee Valley as well as numerous essays and articles. His work in history and preservation has brought him numerous awards and honors as well as active positions on boards and committees. He currently serves as regional captain for Georgia, Alabama and Florida for the National Leadership in History Awards Committee of the American Association for State and Local History.

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Emeril Lagasse in Birmingham

By Bob Carlton,, Jan. 22

A certain celebrity chef from New Orleans is in Birmingham this week working on a new cookbook, and while making the rounds, Emeril Lagasse created quite the buzz when he stopped in for drinks and dinner at Bottega recently.

“He caused a small riot,” Bottega executive chef and co-owner Frank Stitt joked this afternoon. “He came in through the café, and everybody was like, ‘There’s Emeril.’ They hung out at the bar before sitting at their table. We were able to allow him to enjoy eating without being bombarded by autograph hounds.”

Lagasse was in town developing a new cookbook with Birmingham-based Oxmoor House book publishers.
While at Bottega, Lagasse and his hosts from Oxmoor House enjoyed sea urchin, a farm egg frittata, a parmesan soufflé, chestnut pappardelle, and grilled red snapper — “a little of everything on the menu,” Stitt said.

“We also sent out a special clam and sausage and pasta dish that made me think of Emeril’s early days in New England,” Stitt added.

During dinner, Lagasse tweeted a picture of two of the pizzas he and his crew shared: One with shrimp, piquillo peppers, salametto piccante, provolone and marjoram, and the other with farm egg, guanciale, roasted garlic and taleggio.

After his meal, Lagasse went back in the kitchen for a group photo with Bottega chef de cuisine Paul Yeck and the Bottega kitchen staff.

This past November, Stitt was one of the guest chefs at the Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s 10th annual Boudin, Bourbon & Beer weekend, which raised $2.25 million for children’s charities.

“Emeril is extremely gracious,” Stitt said. “He has been a real statesman for our profession.”

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Capitol clock ticking again
By Alabama News Network, Jan. 22

A piece of history on the Alabama Capitol building is finally working again.

The clock hasn’t really worked for the last 30 years or so, but now you can hear it chime every hour. And it actually tells the right time.

Originally a gift from the city of Montgomery in 1852, the old clock parts now rest in the capitol’s basement.

“It was fantastic because you get to see the evolution of technology with the clock pieces. You get to see how things developed during the industrial revolution to the modern technology with electricity, modern motors, and into the digital age,” said Stephen McNair.

McNair is in charge of historic sites with the Alabama Historical Commission.  He took me up a narrow staircase to the roof of the capitol to see what powers the new clock.

Even though the original bell still sits atop the capitol, it’s been replaced by a new digital system.

Things have changed a lot since this clock was originally built. Take a look on the inside and things look very different from what you’d expect.

All of those gears have been replaced by a new digital system that’s always on time. The whole project cost about $35,000 and was paid for by the governor’s inaugural foundation.

The capitol is a big stop for tourists, including Josh Kelley and his family.

“Well we’ve just been all over the south and we came out of Birmingham today and literally got into Montgomery because we want to see the state capitol.  It’s really cool to hear the clock is working. It’s a beautiful city,” said Kelley.

The new and improved clock tower was dedicated to the people of Alabama, and McNair thinks it’s a nice addition to another project.

“This is a real treat for the city of Montgomery and the state of Alabama. We also believe it’s the final piece to the restoration of Dexter Avenue. With this coming to the close for the 50th anniversary march, this is the final piece to add a correct historical context to the march,” said McNair.

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Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Feb 5                           Alabama Lifestyle Expo – Gulf Shores, AL
Feb 6 – 8                     Kansas City Golf Show – Kansas City, KS
Feb 8 – 10                   Select Traveller (Bank Travel) – Nashville, TN (Renaissance Hotel Nashville)
Feb 13 – 15                 St. Louis Golf Expo – St. Louis, MO
Feb 13 – 15                 Grand Rapids Golf Show – Grand Rapids, MI
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          


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