Tourism Tuesdays March 24, 2015

  • Alabama tourism industry in Shreveport for Travel South
  • April Walking Tours start
  • Mobile Apps will be featured in 2016 Alabama Vacation Guide
  • What’s the best Alabama-made food product? Vote in our bracket
  • ADAH releases recently discovered film and photos from 1965
  • Learn how to work with the Alabama Tourism Department
  • 11 things Alabama does better than any other state
  • New York Times Magazine reports on Alabama Shakes
  • Local legends lead the next generation
  • U.S. Gulf State Geotourism Project Continues
  • Upcoming episodes of Antiques Roadshow to feature Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
  • TLC to air full season of Heidi Elnora’s ‘Bride By Design’ starting in March
  • Underwater altar coming to Alabama coast at ‘Poseidon’s Playground’
  • Fairhope makes list of 25 best small town honeymoon destinations
  • The J. Clyde named one of ’33 Best Beer Bars in the Country’
  • Birmingham designates Uptown as open container area
  • Search is on for Alabama Barbecue Restaurants
  • Alabama Makers
  • Attention CVBs and attractions: ATD needs pictures by May 29
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Alabama tourism industry in Shreveport for Travel South

50th Anniversary of Travel South celebrated at showcase
The Alabama Tourism Department and industry leaders from tourism in Alabama are in Shreveport, Louisiana this week for the 50th Anniversary of Travel South USA and the Travel South showcase.

50th Anniversary Luncheon
There was a special Travel South anniversary luncheon Monday where the accomplishments of the organization were showcased.  Those present at the luncheon were given a multimedia presentation of Travel South’s history starting with the founding.

Travel South was formed in 1965 by a resolution presented at the Southern Governor’s Conference.  The first project undertaken by the newly-formed council was an advertising campaign in “Holiday” magazine. Never before had a group of states jointly advertised their travel product.

Showcase Appointments

While the anniversary is a cause to celebrate, the two days of appointments with tour operators at the showcase is the main event for those attending.  Thirty-seven journalists and more than 100 tour operators are at the show to meet with the Alabama delegation and those from the other member states.

Those from Alabama attending included three members from the Alabama Tourism Department:
Lee Sentell, Grey Brennan and Rosemary Judkins.

Alabama tourism industry leaders attending:
Mary Patchunka-Smith, Anniston; Aviva Muhammad, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church; Bob Hendrix, Dothan CVB; Tara Walton, Birmingham CVB; Pam Williams, Huntsville CVB; Jim Inscoe, Jasmine Hill Gardens; Ron McConnell, Mobile Bay CVB; Nick Patel, Quality Inn & Suites, Mobile; Lydia Jones, Battle House & Riverview Hotels, Mobile; Ashley Mason, Selma/Dallas County Tourism; Ann Clemons, Tripe E Group Services, Montgomery; Jan Weiler, Landmark Tours, Fairhope; Jacque Reeves, Avalon Tours, Huntsville; Candace Johnson, University of Alabama Center for Economic Development; Kelli Harris, University of Alabama Museums; and Tina Jones, Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission.

For more information on Alabama Tourism Departments efforts with the group tour market, contact  

April Walking Tours start

Some 26 towns across Alabama will be on display during Saturday mornings in April as part of the Alabama Tourism Department’s April Walking Tours.

A variety of community leaders will lead the free tours through the historic districts or courthouse square areas of their hometowns.  The hour-long tours will start at 10 a.m. on April 4, 11, 18, and 25.

Towns and starting places for the April Walking Tours are: Athens, Athens Visitor Center; Atmore, Heritage Park; Birmingham, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Brundidge, Studio 116; Columbia, Old Bank Building (April 4 & 18 only); Columbiana, M & F Bank, Decatur, Old State Bank Building; Demopolis, Public Square; Dothan, Wiregrass Museum of Art; Elba, Chamber of Commerce; Fairhope, Fairhope Welcome Center; Florence, various locations; Foley, Welcome Center; Greensboro, Hale County Courthouse; Greenville, Historic Depot/Chamber of Commerce.

Huntsville, Constitution Village (April 4 & 11 only); Madison, Madison Roundhouse (April 18 & 25 only); Mobile, Cathedral Basilica; Montgomery; Montgomery Area Visitor Center; Mooresville, Mooresville Post Office; Phenix City; Amphitheater; Prattville, Prattaugan Museum; Selma, Selma-Dallas County Library; Sheffield, Sheffield Municipal Building; Troy, Chamber of Commerce; Tuscumbia, ColdWater Bookstore.

The tours are being coordinated by Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department.  “Alabama is the only state in the nation to hold statewide, simultaneous walking tours.  These walking tours are a great way to get out and enjoy the spring weather and find out about the history of our state.  We have done more than 2,000 walking tours since the beginning of the program twelve years ago and they keep increasing in popularity every year,” Jones said.

More information about the April Walking Tours is available on the Alabama Tourism Department website at

Mobile Apps will be featured in 2016 Alabama Vacation Guide

We need your help.  We are compiling a list of mobile apps offered by our Alabama Tourism Industry Partners.  A section in the 2016 Alabama Vacation Guide will be dedicated to mobile apps promoting the Alabama Tourism Industry.

If your organization has developed mobile apps to promote your area/attraction/business/event, please send a description and link to Jo Jo Terry,  Please send information regarding mobile apps that are even in the development stage.   If you have any questions, please contact Jo Jo Terry by email or phone, 334-353-4716 direct line.

What’s the best Alabama-made food product? Vote in our bracket
By Bob Carlton,, March 19

March Madness kicks into high gear today, with wall-to-wall basketball as the Round of 64 begins in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

But you’ll need plenty to eat while you’re watching all of those games, right? And lots to drink, too.

To commemorate this festive occasion, the staff here at has put together an Alabama Food Bracket, featuring 32 food and beverage products are either made in Alabama or that originated here.

And we need you to help us pick the overall winner.

We’ve divided the field into four sub-brackets: Beers & Beverages, Snacks & Sweets, Sauces & Spreads and Breakfast.

In each of the categories, we’ve tried our best to match similar products, creating some heavyweight first-round match-ups — such as Buffalo Rock ginger ale vs. Grapico, Conecuh sausage vs. Zeigler bacon, and John’s Famous slaw dressing vs. Sneaky Pete’s hot dog sauce.

Vote below by clicking your favorite of the two possible choices for the best Alabama-made food product:

To read this article online, go to:

ADAH releases recently discovered film and photos from 1965

The Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) has released recently discovered, unseen color and black-and-white film footage of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March and newly acquired aerial photographs of downtown Montgomery and the City of St. Jude taken on March 25, 1965.

Approximately 3,000 feet of 16mm color film was discovered during a collections inventory of materials created during the George Wallace administration. The film footage was shot under the auspices of the Alabama Sovereignty Commission. Established in 1963, the Commission was charged “to do and perform any and all acts and things deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the State of Alabama (Acts of 1963, No. 514).” Its function was to investigate and discredit the efforts of individuals and organizations working to improve civil rights.

The film captures powerful scenes of the third, successful march beginning in Selma at Brown Chapel, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, along highway 80 in Lowndes County, and the marchers’ arrival into Montgomery on March 25, 1965. It also captures scenes of protests in Selma in the days following the “Bloody Sunday” march on March 7 and demonstrations by Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) and Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) students in downtown Montgomery in mid-March. The majority of the film contains no audio but it captures many of the most iconic scenes of the final March including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “How Long, Not Long” speech.

The ADAH has also released 16 aerial photographs that were taken by Alabama Air National Guard reconnaissance pilots in the skies above Montgomery on March 25, 1965. They capture the marchers lining up at their final campsite at the City of St. Jude as they prepare to march the remaining miles to the Alabama State Capitol. The photographs also show views of downtown Montgomery and the Capitol Complex as thousands of marchers pour into the city. The images provide a new perspective on the culmination of the March and detail on Montgomery streetscapes during this period. They are part of two separate collections recently donated to the ADAH.

“While the nation’s eyes are fixed on Selma, Highway 80, and Montgomery during this fiftieth anniversary, we are pleased to be able to share these striking visual records of a turning point in Alabama and American history,” said ADAH director Steve Murray. “They are interesting and instructive for providing new perspectives on familiar scenes, such as the culminating demonstration at the Capitol on March 25, but also for making visible some lesser-known episodes such as the marches by Tuskegee and Alabama State students.”

The film footage is available to view by the public on the ADAH’s YouTube channel Aerial photographs can be viewed in the ADAH’s online digital archives at For media access to the film and the aerial photographs, please contact Meredith McDonough at (334) 353-5442 or

Learn how to work with the Alabama Tourism Department

The Alabama Tourism Department will host a Tourism Workshop on Tue., April 21 in Birmingham and Wed., April 22 in Montgomery.  These workshops are for new tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in their area.

Many of ATD’s staff members will be in attendance at these workshops and you will have an opportunity for one-on-one time with each of them.  This is also an opportunity to meet with Jay Lamar (Executive Director) and Howard Graves of the Bi-Centennial Commission and find out how you can participate up to and during 2019.

At a recent workshop someone was overheard saying, “Next time they have one of these workshops, my entire staff is going!”  Come and learn about the many programs and services the Alabama Tourism Department offers.

On Tue., April 21 the workshop will be held at the Vulcan Park and Museum, 1701 Valley View Drive, Birmingham and on Wed., April 22 the workshop will be at the Alabama Center for Commerce Building, 401 Adams Avenue.  Times for both days will be 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.  There is no registration fee.

For additional information, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or via email at Rosemary.Judkins@Tourism.Alabama.Gov

11 things Alabama does better than any other state
By Kelly Kazek,, March 24

Sweet home, Alabama. Sure, we’re not always perfect but in many areas we shine. Tell us what you’d put on your list by emailing

1. College football.
What can we say? Seventeen national champions – officially, 15 for University of Alabama, two for Auburn University – including four in a row from 2009-2012. And the total could rise. Auburn officials are debating adding to the two official titles claimed, one in 1957 and one in 2010. The NCAA record book lists Auburn as a national champion in 1913, 1957, 1983, 1993 and 2010, and Auburn was also undefeated in 1914 and 2004. Click here to read more.

2. Southern literature.
We could just say, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and leave it at that. But Alabama’s literary landscape is so much richer: Beyond Atticus and Scout Finch, it is populated with quirky and loveable characters like Forrest Gump, Idgie Threadgoode (“Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café), Edward Bloom “”Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions” and Peejoe Bullis “Crazy in Alabama,” to name a few.

3. Building rocket engines.
Why are we the best? We’ve been doing it longest, starting with Wernher von Braun’s team, and we are NASA’s acknowledged propulsion experts. The engines that carried Americans to the moon were designed and tested in Huntsville. And when United Launch Alliance was looking for a place to put its rocket assembly plant, where engines are integrated with the rest of the rocket, they chose Decatur.

4. Embracing quirkiness.
Sure, like any state, Alabama has its oddities: a monument to an insect, a giant Lady in the Bay, fairytale castles in Fairhope, a meteor that struck a housewife, giant silver statues of musicians. The difference is, we understand those are part of our fabric and heritage. Plus, they’re really fun.

5. Cooking barbecue.
Award-winning restaurants? Check. Famous sauce recipes? Check. Local competitions and festivals? Check and check. But the main reason is simply because, no matter which is your favorite, it tastes so good.

6. Homegrown music.
Thanks to the documentary “Muscle Shoals,” most people are familiar with the incredible music heritage in northern Alabama, where artists like The Rolling Stones and Cher recorded, and the group the Muscle Shoals Swampers was born. Heck, we have a group named Alabama. In addition, “American Idol” has been stacked with Alabama contestants such as Taylor Hicks (winner), Bo Bice (runner-up) and Reuben Studdard (winner). These days, Alabama-born musicians such as the Alabama Shakes and Jason Isbell to make an input.

7. Training astronauts.
With Alabama’s great space heritage, it shouldn’t be surprising we know how to train astronauts. Among this small, elite group of professionals, six astronauts and six past directors of Kennedy Space Center have graduated from Auburn University, two from Troy University and another astronaut graduated from the University of Alabama. Auburn astronauts include Ken Mattingly, C.C. Williams, Jan Davis, Kathryn Thornton, Hank Hartsfield and Jim Voss, while James Kelly graduated from Alabama. William Gregory and Kevin Kregel received advanced degrees from Troy University.

8. Growing peanuts.
That over-sized golden peanut in downtown Dothan is there for a reason: The city is the self-proclaimed Peanut Capital of the World. Actually, Alabama typically ranks third in the nation in the amount of peanuts produced each year but there’s no doubt that Dothan’s annual event is the Nation’s Largest Peanut Festival.

9. Educating engineers and owning our inherent geekiness.
Alabama has 13 accredited engineering schools, with Auburn University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville consistently ranking among the Top 100 in the country. We wear our pocket protectors with pride.

10. Hometown pride.
Why does Alabama have so many quaint and picturesque towns? Because people are proud of where they come from and take great pains to ensure they are lovely and welcoming to anyone who might visit.

11. Southern charm.
Alabamians are known for their sweet tea, honey-dipped accents, turn of phrase and Southern hospitality. We also know how to “mind our manners” as our mothers taught us. More often than not, you’ll be greeted in a friendly way when visiting Alabama.

To read this article online, go to:,
Editor’s Note: Notice online photos of state tourism’s Alabama-shaped guitar from the Year of Alabama Music (#6) and the Alabama Barbecue book cover photo from this year’s promotion of Alabama Barbecue (#5).

New York Times Magazine reports on Alabama Shakes

With its highly anticipated second album, this band of small-town misfits finally has a ticket out — not that they would ever leave.
By Joe Rhodes,, March 18

In the upstairs dressing room at the Georgia Theater in Athens, Ga., in January, Alabama Shakes was getting restless. The band was about to perform songs from its second album, “Sound & Color,” for the first time, and the room was full of distractions. Friends and relatives had driven over from Alabama: cousins and uncles, wives and girlfriends, crying babies and unrestrained toddlers. Sippy cups and spilled Cheerios were scattered everywhere.

Off to one side, Brittany Howard, the 26-year-old lead singer, stared into the middle distance, listening to the new tracks on her headphones, concentrating on the sections that had given her trouble in rehearsal. She got the last touch-ups on her makeup and hair, a sort of Mohawk-bouffant cropped close on the sides, her bouncy curls left free to run wild on the top, and slipped into her show boots: ankle-high burgundy suede.

Alabama Shakes’ rapid ascent has been largely fueled by Howard’s singular stage presence. When she first steps in front of a crowd, there are moments when she seems like the awkward adolescent she used to be, all too aware of her size, her looks and her lumbering gait. But when she hits that first big unrestrained note — her face contorted as if possessed — or a thundering chord on her Gibson, stomping and quaking, preaching and confessing, her jaw jutting out like an angry, pouting child’s, everything changes. It becomes impossible to look anywhere else. She can sound by turns ferocious or angelic, sometimes in the same song. When she sings about heartbreak, it feels as if, right there at that moment, she is consumed by it.

Early in the Georgia Theater set, it was obvious that Howard had evolved as a performer between albums. Thanks mostly to her rawboned exhortations, the Shakes’ debut, “Boys & Girls,” made the band an object of near-universal critical adulation when it was released in 2012. The record would eventually make the Shakes the must-see buzz band at South by Southwest and Bonnaroo, earn gigs at the White House and on “Saturday Night Live” and be nominated for two Grammys and named song of the year by Rolling Stone. Howard still conjures hurricane-force sounds at will, but she also teases the lyrics more than she used to. She coos, coerces and cajoles. She whispers and pleads. She doesn’t just stomp across the stage; she sashays.

The crowd, tentative at first, was mostly willing to take the ride, not seeming to mind when the Shakes ended the set without even playing their hit song, “Hold On.”

Later, Howard told me it felt good to be liberated from the same set list the band had been playing, more or less, for the past four years. “It reminded me of 2009, when we were getting up onstage together for the first time, and it was scary, and you felt completely vulnerable to the crowd,” she said. “It was that feeling of: I’m terrified, but I need to do it. I have to do it. ’Cause if I don’t do it, then everything’s gonna stay the same.”

To read this article online, go to:

Local legends lead the next generation, March 17

A recently released video celebrating generations of Muscle Shoals music features the youngest artist who has ever been signed to a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Nashville.  Jackson Nance, a 15-year-old singer/songwriter from Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee recorded, “It’s A Swamp Thing” at The NuttHouse recording studio in Sheffield.  The video was being shared on social media last week.

Nance and his friends, Rob Robinson and Eddie Wilson, wrote the song as a tribute to their music heroes, the Muscle Shoals Swampers, who have played on hundreds of hit recordings. The Swampers rhythm section comprises guitarist Jimmy Johnson, bassist David Hood, drummer Roger Hawkins and keyboardist, the late Barry Beckett. “It’s A Swamp Thing” includes numerous references to artists and hit songs associated with the Muscle Shoals music industry.

“These guys are my heroes,” said Nance, who has been singing since he was eight and playing guitar and writing songs since he was 12.  “I don’t know how many times I’ll ever get to record with Reggie Young and David Hood and Jimmy Johnson and Chad Cromwell.  It’s just a great experience.  I’m just really fortunate to be in the studio today with them,” he added.

The session took place in February.  It was produced by Jimmy Johnson,  engineered by Jimmy Nutt, and featured Hood, Johnson, Reggie Young, Chad Cromwell and Robinson.

State Tourism Director, Lee Sentell, said the state supported the videotaping because the project generated a unique tool to use for marketing Alabama both regionally and internationally. Sentell said the critically-acclaimed Muscle Shoals documentary has broadened the horizon for music tourism opportunities.

Wes Wages was the videographer for the project.  The session was spearheaded by Debbie Wilson, former director of Florence/Lauderdale Tourism who recently joined Sentell’s staff in Montgomery.  The video project was also supported by the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Office.

The song is available on iTunes and the link to the video is

To read this article online, go to:

U.S. Gulf State Geotourism Project Continues
Bartram Canoe Trail Video and Blog Posted

Another Alabama video has been posted to the U.S. Gulf Coast States Geotourism YouTube channel and to the U.S. Gulf Coast Geotourism website.  The latest Alabama video features the Bartram Canoe Trail and is the 4th of 4 videos produced as part of a Southern Journeys project with Compass Marketing.

In addition to the latest video, a blog was also posted on the U.S. Gulf Coast States Geotourism website on Little River Canyon:

Picture it now. You’re slowly paddling along. Egrets are watching from the shoreline. Sunlight streams through the canopy of moss-covered cypress and tupelos overhead. Aside from the sound   of scattered birdcalls in the distance, it’s dead silent. Alabama’s Bartram Canoe Trail is complete and utter serenity – and it’s right in the backyard of urban Mobile.

Named after explorer, artist and naturalist William Bartram, the trail currently boasts close to 200 miles of paddling options (and it’s about to add another 100 miles over the course of the next two years). One of the longest canoe and kayak trail systems in the country, Bartram offers day and overnight routes with about a half dozen campsite options, including land-based and floating platforms.

The trail runs through the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, the thecountry’s second largest river Delta. It’s an area rich in biodiversity. In fact, Alabama ranks fifth in the United States for the highest plant and animal diversity in the country. With close to 3,000 vascular plants, 63 mammals, 326 birds, 85 reptiles, 68 amphibians, 284 freshwater fish, and 120 freshwater snails, there’s no telling what you’ll discover on your journey. From prehistoric-looking alligators, hooting barred owls and several hawk species to bobcat and black bears, it truly is a wildlife-enthusiast’s dream.

To read the complete blog, go to

To view the Batram Canoe Trail video, go to

The 3 other videos in the series were Little River Canyon, Dreamland Bar-B-Que, and Main Street Stroll Fairhope.

For more information on the Alabama’s participation in the U.S. Gulf Coast States Geotourism website and how your attraction can be listed free of charge, contact

Upcoming episodes of Antiques Roadshow to feature Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) will be featured in upcoming episodes of Antiques Roadshow set to air on Alabama Public Television on the following dates:  Mon., March 30 at 7:00 p.m.; Thur., April 2 at 8:00 p.m.; Fri., April 3 at 9:00 p.m.; and Sun., April 5 at 4:00 p.m.

The Birmingham episodes feature footage from the show’s visit to BCRI and other Birmingham cultural institutions in June 2014.  While at BCRI, Antiques Roadshow host Mark L. Walberg joined appraiser Catherine Williamson to discuss the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century and to look at materials from BCRI Archives that are related to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Walberg also spent time with BCRI Head of Education and Exhibits Ahmad Ward who led the crew on a tour of the galleries.

Antiques Roadshow is produced by WGBH Boston and is PBS’s highest-rated ongoing series.

TLC to air full season of Heidi Elnora’s ‘Bride By Design’ starting in March
By Mia Watkins,, Feb. 26

TLC has picked up Birmingham designer Heidi Elnora’s reality show for a season starting in March, according to a press release.

Elnora will begin a 10-episode run of her show, “Bride By Design” on the network starting Friday, March 27 at 8 p.m. The show will focus on the Alabama native’s mission to help create unique bridal gowns for the clients who visit her Birmingham-based shop.

TLC aired a “Bride By Design” pilot last summer.

The season premiere will feature a bride named Tia looking to stand among her fellow brides as the eighth woman to get engaged to a member the Atlanta Braves in one year.

Kayla, a second bride, will pick a dress from Elnora’s “Build-A-Bride” collection that allows brides to choose from a base design while adding personal touches by the way to lace, sleeves and sparkly elements.

The show takes viewers into Elnora’s process as a designer, she previously told It also shows how close she becomes to the brides she works with.

Elnora launched the heidi elnora brand in 2006. She is also one of the co-founders of Birmingham Fashion Week and no stranger to reality TV, having competed on the second season of “Project Runway.”

To read this entire article, go to:

Underwater altar coming to Alabama coast at ‘Poseidon’s Playground’
By Marc D. Anderson,, March 18

Beach weddings have always been popular on Alabama’s coast and now a reef-focused nonprofit is taking it to another level.

A shell-covered concrete cross has being deployed at the nearshore reef called “Poseidon’s Playground.”   It is in place in about 38 feet of water, 3.5 miles off the coast of Orange Beach and will begin serving as an altar for underwater wedding ceremonies, according to Vince Lucido, president of the Alabama Gulf Coast Reef and Restoration Foundation.

“Weddings seem to be a big industry here and we’re going to offer wedding venues for anybody that has a desire to do underwater weddings,” Lucido said.

The Poseidon’s Playground project is being spearheaded by the reef foundation. The first statues were deployed in December.   The cross joins the mythological statues — Poseidon, Apollo and Venus — and a table-like, grouper reef with small aquatic statues.

Lucido said the cross is the start of the second phase of the nearshore reef that is expected to include memorial statues to first responders. While the group continues to seek donations and sponsorships for the effort, it received a $5,000 boost from the Orange Beach City Council.

“I’m just letting you know that we’re working on different venues for diving and fishing,” Lucido told the council. “And especially the diving industry to make it more available to all facets of divers — your beginning, your intermediate and your more advanced.”

Since forming in July 2012 under the umbrella of the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, the foundation has been working with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division, in getting sites permitted for recreational diving. The LuLu became Alabama’s first purposefully sunk whole-ship diving reef and was the nonprofit’s first step toward making Alabama’s a tourism-based diving destination.

While The LuLu is more suited to intermediate and advanced divers, with a 50-foot depth clearance at the top of the wreck, Lucido said Poseidan’s Playground is suited for beginners.

Mayor Tony Kennon said the project is great for young divers and felt the unique underwater wedding idea would be successful.

“I think we’re going to be surprised at how many wedding actually take place on that alter,” Kennon said.
Reef foundation member Lila Harris, a local scuba instructor and brainchild of the virtual underwater playground, said a GoFundMe fundraising campaign will begin soon for the first-responder memorial statues.

In February, Harris said four blocks with metal rings were deployed at the site to ensure that it remains a “no anchor” zone.

The wedding altar idea was a collective one, she said.

“Down Under Dive Shop has talked about doing underwater weddings for a few years before Poseidon’s Playground was ever an idea,” she said of the Gulf Shores business. “It’s just a culmination of our local wedding planners and ministers that we know and divers that we know and photographers.”

A number of local divers happen to be ordained ministers, she said. “We have several dive operations that can help go down and prepare the ceremony ahead of time based on the couple’s desires,” she said.

The altar may have some ties to the Flora-Bama but Harris said negotiations are ongoing.

Underwater weddings have been popular in the Florida Keys for decades and are common in tropical locales around the world.

Having an underwater wedding altar would be unique to Gulf Coast, Harris said.

“We would be the only one basically between California and south Florida, which would be pretty cool,” she said. “This is going to be huge.”

Anyone interested in the contributing to the Poseidon’s Playground project, can email, call 251-968-6904 or visit

To read this article online, go to:

Fairhope makes list of 25 best small town honeymoon destinations, March 24

Breath-taking natural scenery and sweeping views of Mobile Bay have long made the small town of Fairhope on Alabama’s Gulf Coast an ideal escape from busy city life. Fairhope offers a wonderful array of things to see and do around town. Journey back in time with a visit to the site of the last major battle of the Civil War where Fort
Blakeley fell, or go on a landmark tour of the Point Clear Historic District that highlights beautifully preserved mansions along the bayside promenade, and old Civil War trails. Hiking and horseback riding are available at Oak Hollow Farm, while the Fairhope Municipal Pier is the perfect spot for swimming, beach walking, picnics and romantic sunsets. Spanish Fort is one of the town’s most popular attractions, where the Apalachee, Blakeley, Mobile, Tensaw, and Spanish Rivers converge and flow into Mobile Bay to create a network of scenic waterways, wetlands and woods (website).

To read this article online, go to:

The J. Clyde named one of ’33 Best Beer Bars in the Country’
By Melissa Brown,, March 22

For the second year running, Birmingham’s The J. Clyde has been named one of Thrillist’s “33 Best Beer Bars” in the nation.

“We’ve reached a wonderful point in civilization where even our dingiest dive bars have at least one craft beer available,” Thrillist’s Andy Kryza writes. “But even as great beer becomes more and more the norm, a great beer bar is still a thing of amber-hued beauty.”

The J. Clyde Tavern is praised for featuring Southern brews and for its staff, which “seems to have studied the ever-changing menu with the vigor of a grad student.”

“Do you love beer, but don’t walk around with a thesaurus to help you describe to an ultra-hip bartender what you want?” Thrillist writes. “The 70+ tap offerings at this old-school ‘Bama beer hall are broken up into flavor profiles on the menu, organized under descriptors like “roast,” “malt,” and “tart and/or funk,” probably because tart and funk should never be mutually exclusive.”

In addition to making Thrillist’s 2014 list, The J. Clyde was named among the Top 50 beer restaurants by beer connoisseurs’ Web site in 2010.

The Tavern, which will celebrate its eighth anniversary on April 13, has been called a “fulcrum” in Birmingham’s craft beer scene. 

To read this article online, go to:

Birmingham designates Uptown as open container area
By Fred Davenport,, March 17

The Birmingham City Council approved an amendment to the intoxicating liquors ordinance recently, after a public hearing in which no one spoke for or against the item.

There will be designated areas for open containers of alcohol, including Uptown, the Westin Hotel, Sheraton Hotel and the BJCC. Signs will be posted throughout the area that will mark the areas.

Police will patrol the entire Uptown district to make sure people comply with the rules.

Alabama’s 13 talked to the manager of Southern Kitchen off-camera Tuesday, who was excited about the change.
The ordinance update could drive more foot traffic and money to the Uptown area, we’re told.

City Councilor Valerie Abbot wants uptown to be the pilot area before other similar areas are approved.
“I don’t know if anyone has suggested any more, but I would like to see us cool it for a while until we see how this all works out. So that’s when we do a second and a third and a fourth or how many we’re going to do — that we found all the places it doesn’t work and needs to be fine-tuned instead of having to reinvent the wheel all over town to fix our problems,” she said.

Alabama state lawmakers passed a law in 2012 that allowed cities to have open container areas with participating businesses. The measure said patrons would have to stay in designated areas.

To read this article online, go to:

Search is on for Alabama Barbecue Restaurants

The Alabama Tourism Department is conducting a search for barbecue restaurants around the state that might not have made it into the Alabama Barbecue book.  If you are or know of any barbecue restaurants in your area, please go to to sign in and join Alabama Tourism’s Year of Alabama Barbecue.

Alabama Makers

Alabama is home to a vast number of talented and creative people who produce a wide variety of items including, but not limited to, woodwork, paintings, ceramics, fabrics and a lot of food.

The Alabama Tourism Department is looking for information about all these people and their products.  We want the home-grown cottage industries as opposed to industrial giants.

Please send information about people and their products, including contact information, to Peggy Collins, or call 334-242-4545.

Attention CVBs and attractions: ATD needs pictures by May 29

The Alabama Tourism Department will soon be working on a photo book.  We need really great high res images from you.  They need to be a minimum of 4” X 6” at 300 dpi, but bigger is better.  The deadline for getting these in is May 29.

The images we look for are those that are colorful, show people having a lot of fun and could only have been taken in one place.  The graphics team will be at the Tourism Workshops to give detailed information about the photography we need.

There is no guarantee that we will use your image(s), but if we don’t have them, we can’t use them, which could affect how well your area is represented in our photo book.

For information on the best way to send your images, please contact Peggy Collins,  or 334-242-4545.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Apr 14                         Alabama Tourism Bash – Montgomery, AL
Apr 15                         Alabama Tourism Advisory Board Meeting & Update, Montgomery, AL
Apr 21 & 22                Alabama Tourism Department Workshop – Birmingham/Montgomery
Apr 22 – 24                 WTM Latin America (Trade) – Sao Paulo, Brazil
Apr 30 – May 3           Nashville Southern Women’s Show – Nashville, TN
May 6                          Sumter Welcome Center, Tourism Day Celebration
I-20/59 East of MS Line
May 7                          Cleburne Welcome Center, Tourism Day Celebration
I-20 West of GA Line
May 14                        Lanett Welcome Center Tourism Day Celebration
I-85 West of Georgia Line
May 15                        Houston Welcome Center Tourism Day Celebration
U.S. 231 North of FL Line
May 14                        Baldwin Welcome Center Tourism Day Celebration
I-10 West of FL Line
May 7                          Grand Bay Welcome Center Tourism Day Celebration
I-10 East of MS Line
May 14                        DeKalb Welcome Center Tourism Day Celebration
I-59 West of GA Line
May 28                        Ardmore Welcome Center Tourism Celebration
I-65 South of TN Line


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