Tourism Tuesdays April 21, 2015

  • Leisure Group Travel Magazine highlights Civil Rights Sites
  • ‘I felt like we were saved that day’, the Hog Wild Beach & BBQ story
  • Bellingrath Gardens and Home Executive Director receives Outstanding Alumni Award
  • Racing rovers under the space shuttle, climbing Martian hills, and navigating moon rocks. It’s racing in the Rocket City
  • Alabama Makers Market
  • Registration opens in two weeks for Travel South International Showcase
  • April Walking Tours Continue
  • Nominations open for the 2016 Top 100 Events in North America
  • Attention CVBs and attractions: ATD needs pictures by May 2
  • Mobile Apps will be featured in 2016 Alabama Vacation Guide
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Leisure Group Travel Magazine highlights Civil Rights Sites

The April edition of Leisure Group Travel magazine has an 11-page article titled “Exploring America’s Civil Rights Sites.”  The story which focuses on group tour friendly Civil Rights destinations in the Travel South member states features an across the page photograph of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma and a 1/6 page photo each of Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church, both in Birmingham.

In a section titled Alabama, the article states;
“Possibly the epicenter of the civil rights movement, Alabama is home to more than a dozen significant sites.  The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church was headquarters for the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott that was sparked by the arrest and jailing of Rosa Parks.  Her crime was a refusal to give up her seat for a white passenger on a crowded city bus.  The church’s young pastor, Martin Luther King, Jr., was thrust into the national spotlight.

In Birmingham the 16th Street Baptist Church was the training center and point of origination for the 1963 Children’s Campaign for Human Rights. This direct action was a challenge to segregation in Birmingham by putting pressure on merchants through marches. On Sept. 15, 1963, a Ku Klux Klan bombing of the church killed four young girls and injured 22 church attendees.  The action sparked a series of protests. Tours of the church are available.”

To read the entire article, go to:

For more on how Alabama’s Civil Rights sites are promoted to the group tour market, contact:

‘I felt like we were saved that day’, the Hog Wild Beach & BBQ story
By Allison Woodham,, April 14

April 27, 2011 was an important date for T.J. Allen and Caitlin Glosson.

“Caitlin and I lived in Forest Lake in Tuscaloosa and that’s directly where the tornado came through,” T.J. says.

“My house was destroyed, the house we were in was destroyed; the whole neighborhood was wiped out. It was a devastating experience.”

Countless lives were lost, but T.J.’s and Caitlin’s were saved that day.

“After being so close to death, it changed our lives,” T.J. says. We changed everything we were doing.”

The couple moved to Birmingham, where T.J. is originally from. Caitlin continued nursing school and T.J. pursued physical therapy.

T.J. says due to the couple’s post-traumatic stress disorder, anytime a storm would hit the Birmingham area they would think it was another tornado.

In 2012, Caitlin and T.J. moved to Gulf Shores, Caitlin’s hometown. A friend of T.J.’s father owned the current location of Hog Wild and closed the doors in October 2013.

He offered the restaurant to the couple, and Hog Wild Beach & BBQ opened their doors in December 2013.

“We both had barbecue experience and decided to try it,” T.J. says. “It’s taken a lot of hard work. We’ve changed everything about the restaurant. All the recipes are our own, and we changed the inside and outside.”

Caitlin and T.J. essentially ran the business themselves for the first year and just started hiring employees to help.
This year, the Alabama Department of Tourism sent a writer to numerous barbecue joints to taste some of the best barbecue in Alabama and record it all in a book, “Alabama Barbecue: Delicious Road Trips.” Hog Wild was chosen among 30 other Alabama restaurants to be interviewed.

“Weeks later, a film company got in touch with us about an Alabama barbeque documentary,” T.J. says. “It’s been dubbed ‘the year of barbecue in Alabama.’”

After filming for four hours in Hog Wild, the couple received a phone call. Along with three other barbecue restaurants, — Jim ‘N Nick’s, Archibald’s BBQ and Big Bob Gibson BBQ — Caitlin and T.J. have been invited as pitmasters to represent Alabama at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival.

Caitlin and T.J.’s story is unique for many reasons. Not only the way they came to Gulf Shores and opened up a barbecue restaurant, but also the barbecue experience of these two at such a young age.

“All of these places have been around for 50 years or better, recipes passed down from generations, and here’s Caitlin and me, newcomers, just over one year,” T.J. says, laughing. “Getting invited to do something like this is pretty special.”

What started as a tragedy has turned into a blessing. After experiencing a tornado, T.J. and Caitlin wanted to change their lives — to do something that means something, not just to make a living. Something that’s rewarding.

“It’s so rewarding when people come in here and love our food, the atmosphere, talking to us,” T.J. says.

So what’s the secret behind the art of barbecue, you ask?
“Practice, trial and error, research, getting creative, improvising, sacrifice and commitment,” T.J. says. “Until we got it right.”

To read this online, go to:

Bellingrath Gardens and Home Executive Director receives Outstanding Alumni Award

Dr. Bill Barrick, executive director of Bellingrath Gardens and Home, has received the Auburn University College of Agriculture’s Outstanding Alumni Award for the Horticulture Program.

The award recognizes Auburn University College of Agriculture graduates who have made a significant contribution to their professions and have a record of outstanding personal and professional accomplishments.

Dr. Barrick received the award during a reception and dinner on April 16 at the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center.

This is the second major honor for Dr. Barrick in 2015. In March, he was selected to receive the American Horticultural Society’s Liberty Hyde Bailey Award, given to an individual who has made significant lifetime contributions to at least three horticultural fields.

At Bellingrath Gardens and Home, Dr. Barrick manages the 65-acre historic estate and serves as a trustee for the Bellingrath Morse Foundation, the estate of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. Under his direction, the gardens and home have become a major tourist destination on the Gulf Coast, attracting more than 125,000 visitors annually.

His initiatives include the redesign of the annual Magic Christmas in Lights display, which will mark its 20th anniversary this year. In December 2014, USA Today included Bellingrath Gardens and Home’s Magic Christmas in Lights in their list of the “10 Best Public Light Displays in America.”

Dr. Barrick has been Bellingrath’s Executive Director since 1999. Before that, he was Executive Vice President and Director of Gardens at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., for nearly twenty years.

Dr. Barrick earned two degrees from Auburn University: A Bachelor of Science in 1968 and a Master’s Degree in Ornamental Horticulture in 1970.

The College of Agriculture honored nine alumni with the awards. The recipients were nominated by departments and units within the College of Agriculture, and the final selection was made by a committee that included the dean, associate deans, department heads and unit directors.

Racing rovers under the space shuttle, climbing Martian hills, and navigating moon rocks. It’s racing in the Rocket City
By Eric Schultz,, April 18

It’s not your typical race.

The starting line is under the space shuttle. Your extra-terrestrial rover will have to climb Martian terrain near an Atlas rocket. Be careful on the hairpin turn under the Apollo Saturn 1B. Make sure you go easy on the tires while on the lunar surface by the lunar lander.

These are the challenges faced by the participants of the 2015 Human Exploration Rover Challenge on the second day of against-the-clock racing at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center on Saturday.

This competitive international design challenge boasts 95 registered university/college and high school teams, hailing from 18 states, Puerto Rico and from as far away as Mexico, Germany, India and Russia. Each team has spent months designing, building and testing their rovers, all for this moment…to roll into the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to defend their crowns or usurp the hierarchy of previous winners.

Rover Challenge requires student teams to design, construct, test and race human-powered rovers through an obstacle course simulating terrain potentially found on distant planets, asteroids or moons. Teams race against the clock to finish the course with the fastest times, vying for prizes in competitive divisions.

The nearly three-quarter-mile-long obstacle course has teams racing and maneuvering in, through and around full-size exhibits of rockets, space vehicles and extra-terrestrial terrain on display at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

The course continues to feature the lunar-themed obstacles of years past, but with a new twist — the addition of Martian-themed obstacles highlighting NASA’s future goals of deep-space exploration. The Martian surface claimed many rovers. Many of the participants were surprised by the difficulty of the new course this year.

This year’s course includes 17 unique obstacles built from wood, aluminum, rubber tires and tons of gravel, sand and red clay. The material is carefully shaped to resemble craters, basins, boulders, ancient lava flows, crevasses and other obstacles. The course features simulated fields of asteroid debris — boulders from 5 to 15 inches across; an ancient stream bed filled with pebbles about 6 inches deep; and erosion ruts and crevasses in varying widths and depths.

Some teams finished, while others carried their wheels through the rocket park back to the rover pit area.

Winning or losing isn’t the most important thing, overcoming the challenges and learning from the problems in the rover race is what’s important.

“For 21 years, we have welcomed talented students, each more excited than the last to share their knowledge and enthusiasm,” says Tammy Rowan, manager of Marshall’s Academic Affairs Office. “Students in this difficult, yet rewarding NASA challenge demonstrate the real-world skills needed to pursue their educational and career goals.”

To read this article online, go to:

Alabama Makers Market

The Alabama Tourism Department will host the first Alabama Makers Market Thur., June 4, at the RSA Activity Center in Montgomery.  The market will showcase the talented artists and crafters of Alabama for the gift shop owners and managers in Alabama.

Hours of the market will be 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Setup begins at 8:30 a.m.  The RSA Activity Center is located at 201 Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, AL  36104.

Artists and crafters can register for free booth space where they will be able to display their items and meet with buyers from Alabama gift shops to wholesale their products to them.  For an application, contact Leigh Cross: OR by phone, 334-242-4416.  Deadline for applications is May 1.

Gift shop owners/managers should RSVP to Leigh Cross: OR by phone, 334-242-4416.

Registration opens in two weeks for Travel South International Showcase
Fewer appointment tables means quick sellout is expected

Travel South will open registration for their International Showcase in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 1.  This important show for destinations, attractions, and accommodations wanting to promote themselves to the international market is expected to sell out even faster than in previous years.  The show, which runs from Nov. 30-Dec. 3, will have 20% fewer supplier booths than in 2014.

Grey Brennan of the Alabama Tourism Department says, “It is important for those wanting to attend to go ahead and find their table partners and be ready to sign up when registration opens. Travel South has added an additional member state and with fewer appointment tables it’s a known fact that there will be plenty of CVBs and their destination partners who will not get in this year.”

Request for booth space with less than a full 3 member sign-up will have delayed confirmations or cancellations, depending on demand.

“Your past attendance at Travel South International in no way guarantees you or even puts you in a better position,” said Brennan.  “The only way to guarantee that you attend is to register a full slate of 3 members at your table prior to the show selling out and for that registration to be confirmed by Travel South.

The International showcase in Charlotte will be Travel South’s 4th annual event.  At showcase, top-producing international tour operators and U.S. based receptive buyers met one-on-one with destinations for a sales appointment session.

Only buyers who are interested in southern product attend the showcase.  Only destinations, attractions and accommodation representatives from Travel South’s member states are allowed to have appointment tables.  The twelve member states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the recently added Missouri.

For more information on Travel South, contact Executive Director Liz Bittner, or Director of International Showcase, David Kemp,

For more information on Alabama’s participation in Travel South events, contact

April Walking Tours Continue

Some 27 towns across Alabama are on display during Saturday mornings in April as part of the Alabama Tourism Department’s April Walking Tours.

A variety of community leaders are leading the free tours through the historic districts or courthouse square areas of their hometowns.  The hour-long tours start at 10 a.m. on April 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, Columbiana, M & F Bank, Cullman, Cullman County Museum 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.

Madison, Madison Roundhouse; 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 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

Nominations open for the 2016 Top 100 Events in North America

American Bus Association’s (ABA) Top 100 Events in North America is an annual compendium of the best events for group travel in the United States and Canada.  Each spring, a committee of ABA-member motorcoach and tour operators selects the Top 100 Events for the subsequent year; the list is unveiled in September.  Winners are chosen from hundreds of celebrations, festivals, fairs, commemorative events, and more that have been nominated by ABA members.

If you have events that will be celebrating milestones or anniversaries for 2016, please contact Rosemary Judkins at to have them submitted.  Deadline to submit is April 30.

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.  The deadline for getting these in is May 29.

Things are ‘greening up’ all over the state so grab your camera and go take beautiful pictures that you can share with the Alabama Tourism Department.
Great tourism images should include:

  • Identifiable locations indigenous to Alabama with plenty of colorful flora around.
  • Attractive people wearing bright, solid-color clothing – no jeans – and having a wonderful time.

Images should be made when the site is in full sunlight, preferably early morning or late afternoon, but never between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Images also need to be:

·        High resolution – at least 4” X 6” and 300 dpi, but bigger is better.

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

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.   The deadline is May 29.

If you have any questions, please contact Jo Jo Terry by email or phone, 334-353-4716 direct line.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Apr 30                         Deadline to turn in Top 100 nominations for ABA
Apr 30 – May 3          Nashville Southern Women’s Show – Nashville, TN
May 1                          Deadline to sign up for Alabama Makers Market
May 29                        Deadline to get images to ATD
May 29                        Deadline to turn in mobile app information to ATD

Tourism Day Celebrations at Welcome Centers
Celebration time at all Welcome Centers is: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

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