Tourism Tuesdays August 25, 2015

  • A barbecue tour of far south Alabama
  • Huntsville selected to host FLW Cup in 2016
  • North Alabama’s Hallelujah Tour promotes region’s abundance of century-old worship sites
  • Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports launches new brand
  • Dishing With Bob Baumhower of Bimini Bob’s Cabana Café
  • Courtyard hotel to open in Auburn
  • Last call for Travel South International
  • 100 Dishes update – deadline Friday
  • Montgomery nominated by USA Today’s 10 Best as Best Destination for History Buffs
  • Alabama artists and craftspeople
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


A barbecue tour of far south Alabama.
By Kat Robinson, Tie Dye Travels, Aug. 13

There are many places, people, even states that lay claim to great barbecue. I grew up between the forces of Memphis pork butt and Texas beef brisket, sometimes waved by the eddies of Kansas City and St. Louis. Arkansas’s own home-grown ‘cue’s descent into obscurity, that of the smoked goat, left behind only some of the famed sauces that once covered it (McClard’s and Craig Brothers’ comes to mind), coleslaw on the top and sometimes, the desire to serve one’s meat on white bread.

Nationally, we speak a language of barbecue. Many of our restaurant chains offered barbecue sauce slathered on whatever meats each serves, from Arby’s to Slim Chickens to the lowly McRib. Yet, despite generations of drive-thru customers coast to coast, our regional barbecues retain their unique accents, styles and cultures.

The last few days of July, photographer Grav Weldon and I traveled to a sunswept plain close to the Gulf of Mexico, to experience the exotic and the ordinary, and to discover whether Alabama’s claim to having the best barbecue of any state is merited. We proceeded with suggestions from our friend Art Meripol, photographer of the fantastic new book Alabama Barbecue: Delicious Road Trips, and from our friends with Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. And we utilized a fantastic barbecue-centric application available for free, the Alabama BBQ app.

We crisscrossed the area from Orange Beach to Fairhope, looking for places to sample and sniffing the air for those great flavors that often pull us off the road. After three days and nights and (I kid you not) 11 different meals, Grav and I came up with our five favorite spots for barbecue within 30 minutes of the Alabama Gulf Coast. What’s unusual about this list for us, is that we agreed on the exact order of each of these eateries.

On our three night trip, we also sampled a candy shop, a popsicle stand and a fruit stand – and that’s on top of the delicious breakfasts David conjured for us at Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast each morning. We found that everywhere we went, including all the beaches, were within a half hour’s drive. That included everything from watching the crowd at The Flora-Bama on the Florida-Alabama border to catching a sunset over Mobile Bay at Fairhope. In-between, we strolled through historic Fort Morgan in the rain, thrift-shopped in Foley, surveyed the beach in Gulf Shores, explored the back roads around Bon Secour and walked the boardwalk at the Weeks Bay Pitcher Plant Bog.

We utilized the Alabama Barbecue app
, which came in very handy for finding some of our more secluded barbecue joints. It also shared tidbits of information about each of the restaurants along our way. Our next visit, I believe we’ll check out Mobile’s thriving barbecue scene using this handy application.

So when you head to the Alabama Gulf Coast, do yourself a few favors. I’ve given you some good tips here on barbecue joints, but you can make your own choices thanks to the good folks at Alabama Tourism.  Go do some research at the Alabama Barbecue website.  It has a lot of great stories, interesting links and information about Q – Alabama’s Barbecue Legends Documentary.  And pick up a copy of Alabama Barbecue: Delicious Road Trips (boy, I sure wish my books were published looking this good!) by Annette Thompson with Art Meripol.  It makes a handy road trip bible for your Alabama barbecue trip.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Alabama Tourism. The opinions and text are all mine. Photos for this piece were shot by Grav Weldon and Kat Robinson.

To read this entire article and see the list of barbecue places, go to:


Huntsville selected to host FLW Cup in 2016
Forrest L. Wood Cup to bring estimated economic impact of 2 Million

Organizers of the Forrest L. Wood (FLW) Cup, presented by Walmart, announced recently that they have selected Huntsville for their 2016 activities. For the first time, the FLW Cup will take place in the Rocket City Aug. 4 – 7, 2016, on Wheeler Lake. The event will launch from Ditto Landing.

FLW operates 240 tournaments across five tournament circuits.  FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed outdoors-sports television show in the world.

“Wheeler Lake has been the site of many successful FLW events,” said Kathy Fennel, FLW President of Operations. “We are thrilled to be working with our partners at the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) to bring the tournament here in 2016.”

The championship event will pull in approximately 30,000 – 40,000 attendees over a 4-day period with an estimated economic impact of more than $2 million. Additionally, Huntsville will receive more than $1 million of media exposure from coverage on the FLW television program, airing on NBC Sports, editorial coverage in the FLW Magazine and additional print and out-of-home advertising.

The weigh-in and expo will take place at the Von Braun Center (VBC) in downtown Huntsville.

The expo is free for the public to attend.

“The Von Braun Center is thrilled to be a part of the announcement of the FLW Cup coming to Huntsville in August 2016,” VBC Assistant Director and Public Relations Manager Brandi Quick said.

Judy Ryals, President/CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County CVB, explained that an existing relationship with FLW leadership and amenities that fit the event’s need helped to secure the FLW Cup — a big win for Huntsville and Madison County.

“By hosting previous Walmart FLW Tour events, our partnership with FLW showcased Huntsville and Madison County to fishing fans across the country, and now, we are extremely honored to host the Cup itself for the very first time,” Ryals said. “We invite attendees to come experience our hospitality and get a taste of why Huntsville is ranked as one of the top places to live, work and play.”

Don Dukemineer, CVB Convention Sales Manager specializing in the sports market, said the Huntsville/Madison County CVB is dedicated to rolling out the welcome mat to make sure every FLW Cup attendee leaves with a great Rocket City experience.

“It is an honor for us to be selected by FLW Outdoors as host of the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup,” said Dukemineer. “Our CVB team worked hard to make hosting the Cup a reality for the Rocket City.  I encourage fans to attend the 2016 Cup and experience why Huntsville/Madison County and North Alabama are a fishing enthusiast’s paradise.”

North Alabama’s Hallelujah Tour promotes region’s abundance of century-old worship sites
By Casey Phillips, Life Entertainment/, Aug. 22

When tourism officials decided eight years ago to develop an attraction that leveraged North Alabama’s abundance of historic worship sites, they quickly realized they were going to need to use some fairly rigid criteria or risk being overrun with applicants.

Even after restricting themselves to only those churches that were at least 100 years old, were still located on their original site and still actively held services, the list filled up quickly.

Want to visit any of the dozens of historic churches on the Hallelujah Trail in North Alabama? Order the trail brochure, which includes a map of each worship site, at

“This being the Bible Belt, that’s one of the things we have in the South and in Alabama — historic churches,” says Randy Paul, a visitor services representative at the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, which put together the list. “Many people want to see [churches as] part of their tourism experience when they come to North Alabama. They are looking for the historical side.”

To that end, the Hallelujah Trail was founded in 2007 through grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association.

The trail’s selections encompass 32 historic worship facilities, two from each of the 16 counties in the association’s coverage area. The circuit stretches from DeKalb and Cherokee counties in the east to Colbert and Marion counties in the west.

Each county was asked to nominate facilities that met the criteria. Their selections range from 165-year-old log-and-clapboard buildings to architecturally resplendent pseudo-cathedrals raised at the turn of the 19th century. In addition to covering the entire swath of Protestant denominations — from Episcopal to Baptist — the trail highlights Catholic facilities and the Temple B’Nai Sholom synagogue in Huntsville.

“It’s a broad spectrum of different churches,” Paul says. “There are many different types of structures and many denominations involved in the South. The trail is a melting pot.”

Although a handful of church congregations have made a full circuit of the Hallelujah Trail as part of an unofficial pilgrimage, Paul says most tourists choose to visit the worship sites piecemeal.

Limiting the trail to only actively used churches was an intentional decision that was designed to ensure that visitors could complete their experience by viewing the inside of each historic structure as well as its exterior. By calling ahead, Paul says, visitors can arrange for tours in “99 percent” of the churches.

“There are some of them that are very unique in the way they’re set up,” Paul says. “It’s very diverse.”

To read this article online, got to:

Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports launches new brand

Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports (TTS) has completed a process of developing a new brand for the city. After in-depth research and development, “The One and Only” was formed as Tuscaloosa’s original identifier.

TTS CEO and President Gina Simpson states, “We wanted to develop a brand that truly represented our entire city. During the process, the committee aimed to create a tool that would help tell Tuscaloosa’s story. ‘Tuscaloosa– The One and Only’ is meant to serve as a brand for all establishments in our area. We hope the symbol becomes a uniting theme for the community.”

It is an interesting fact that Tuscaloosa is the only city in the country with its name, giving it a quality as rare as its culture. “The One and Only” was created to represent the authentic experience that is Tuscaloosa. The exciting growth and development that the city has undergone has fostered a sense of pride and belonging within the community. TTS set out to create a brand that embodies all of the characteristics unique to Tuscaloosa.

The 14-month process began with a 33-person committee charged with creating a tagline exclusive to Tuscaloosa. Brand experts developed a Portfolio of Assets and survey to warrant feedback from citizens in the area. The survey received over 1,000 responses from every zip code in Tuscaloosa. A Request for Proposal was then sent out to various ad agencies to assemble a creative campaign team. After four presentations, Cayenne Creative was chosen to develop and design the new brand. After several rounds of concepts for taglines and visual marks, “The One and Only” was created along with some uniquely designed logos.

For more information, contact Brandt Garrison, Director of Communication and Public Relations for the TTS, at 205.391.9200 or

Dishing with Bob Baumhower of Bimini Bob’s Cabana Café
By Lynn Grisard Fullman,, Aug. 17
Bimini Bob’s Cabana Café, 4851 Wharf Parkway, Suite 116, Orange Beach, 251-424-1900,

Bob Baumhower, Head Fry Cook & CEO of Aloha Hospitality, and owner of Bimini Bob’s Cabana Café
Restaurant’s specialty: Alabama Gulf seafood and burgers.

What sets your restaurant apart from others? Our people and our commitment to local and fresh products.

When did the restaurant open? 2008.

What is your restaurant’s most popular entrée? Alabama Gulf Fried Shrimp Basket.

Restaurant’s most popular side: Peas and rice.

Restaurant’s most popular dessert: Homemade Key lime pie.

What’s new at the restaurant? Compleat West Indies Salad.

Job you’d have if not a restaurant owner? I would be a boat broker.

Who inspired your love for cooking? My mom and my grandmother, Big Mama.

Your mentor? Paul “Bear” Bryant, the best college football coach in history; also, my parents.

Best advice you were ever given? Never, ever quit.

Your first cooking memory? Baking cupcakes with leftovers from my mom’s baking.

“The hospitality business is the most rewarding business because we get to watch people enjoy what we do…”

Your worst cooking disaster? Opening day of the first restaurant I opened – Wings ‘N Whiskers in Tuscaloosa – after retiring from the Miami Dolphins. Everything went wrong, including breading that wouldn’t stick to the catfish; it was like being in the Twilight Zone. It still haunts me. Another night at the same restaurant, when I was cooking and my wife, Leslie, was serving, a fraternity came in; it was back when we had only handwritten tickets.

Restaurant-related thing you’re proudest of? Watching the development of young people in all of our restaurants. I enjoy watching them do well (especially) when a lot of them talk about how they were helped by having worked with us. We work hard at teaching folks to be the best they can be. I don’t think anybody ever did that better than Coach Bryant and Coach Shula, the best coaches in college football.

Favorite type food to prepare? Americana.

Favorite food to eat? Seafood.

Favorite food-related website?

What would you choose for your final meal? Seafood Fra Diavlo, a wonderful dish with pasta, a real spicy red sauce and a medley of seafood.

Favorite restaurant (other than your own)? Lester’s Diner in Fort Lauderdale.

Kitchen gadget you couldn’t work without? A commercial food processor.

Most disappointing kitchen gadget? Cooking oil filter.

Strangest occurrence in your restaurant’s dining room? Birds flying in the dining room.

Food/restaurant-related pet peeve? Team members chewing gum.

Worst mistake most cooks make? They fail to prepare,

Your best cooking tip? Know correct cooking temperatures for items involved

Where will you be in 10 years? Snorkeling or fishing in Bimini.

Final thoughts? The hospitality business is the most rewarding business because we get to watch people enjoy what we do while we make them happy by giving them a wonderful culinary experience.

To read this article online, go to:

Courtyard hotel to open in Auburn
By Vicky Karantzavelou,, Aug. 21

Courtyard by Marriott Auburn is scheduled to open its doors in Auburn on Wed., Aug. 26. Featuring an innovative lobby space as well as Courtyard’s latest contemporary room design, the new hotel provides flexibility and choices that allow guests to optimize and elevate their travel experience.

Located at 2420 West Pace Boulevard, the 111-room hotel will operate as a Marriott franchise, owned by Ram Auburn Hospitality, LLC and managed by Ram Hotel Management, LLC. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, the Courtyard Auburn offers guests convenient access to Auburn University and Jordan Hare Stadium, Chewalcala State Park and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Courtyard constantly researches trends and evolves to meet the changing needs of its guests. The latest room design offers hybrid zones for working, sleeping, relaxing and getting ready. Indirect lighting and a neutral, tone-on-tone color palette makes for a soothing and calm environment.

The Courtyard Auburn also offers the Refreshing Business lobby environment, where guests can enjoy an open and bright area outside of their rooms. Along with media pods, complimentary Wi-Fi and a variety of seating zones, the redefined space is ideal for everything from pop-up meetings to social gatherings. The lobby also features The Bistro – Eat. Drink. Connect, offering casual, flexible seating; easy access to food and high quality, healthy menu options for breakfast; and light evening fare, including snacks, cocktails, wine and beer so guests can unwind.

To read this entire article, go to;

Last Call for Travel South International
Early Bird Special Ends Sept 1, Sell Out Expected

Time is running out for Alabama attractions, hotels, CVBs and other tourism organization to sign up for this year’s Travel South International.  The early bird pricing ends on September 1, which is also the day Travel South is expecting that supplier booths will be sold out.

The showcase will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina this year; November 30-December 3, 2015.

Grey Brennan, Regional and International Director for Alabama Tourism Department calls the show one of the best, “In the short time that Travel South has been conducting their international showcase, it has grown to be one of the best regional shows in the U.S. and a great way for Alabama’s destinations to market to top tour operators from around the world.”

One of the reasons the show has become so popular is the high number of appointments each supplier is given during the show and the quality of the tour operators meeting with the suppliers. “Travel South calls on in-market representatives to invite only their top tour operators to come to the show.  This means all of the appointments are quality, resulting in a good return on the money spent to attend.”

For more information, go to

To sign up to attend Travel South International, contact or call David Kemp at 404-231-1790.

100 Dishes update – deadline Friday

It’s time to reprint our popular “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die” brochure.  If you know of restaurants that are listed in the brochure, but are no longer in business, we need to know that.  Also, if there are restaurants that are not listed in the brochure, but are eligible – in business for 5 years or more – we need to know that as well.

Please contact Pam Smith,, no later than COB, Fri., Aug. 28.

Montgomery is nominated by USA Today’s 10 Best as Best Destination for History Buffs

Montgomery has been nominated in the latest 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest.  Their expert panel selected Montgomery as a contender for Best Destination for History Buffs, which just launched. The contest, which is being promoted by USA TODAY, gives voters four weeks to vote for the candidate of their choice at A person can vote once a day for the run of the contest.

Montgomery is the only Alabama city in the running.

Voting ends Mon., Sept. 14, at 10:59 a.m. and the winners will be announced on 10Best on Fri., Sept. 18 11:00 p.m., then later on USA TODAY.

Prior competitions have been hotly contested, and USA TODAY looks forward to seeing how you rock the vote in your own community. Find them on Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

Remember you can vote from every platform you connect to the internet with: computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets.

Alabama artists and craftspeople

Alabama is home to a vast number of talented and creative artists and craftspeople 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 these artists and crafters and their products.  We are interested in the home-grown cottage industries rather than the industrial giants.
Please send information about people and their products, including contact information, to Peggy Collins, or call 334-242-4545.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Aug 27 – 29                Connect Marketplace – Pittsburgh, PA
Aug 28 – Sept 1          SYTA Annual Conference – Branson, MO


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