Tourism Tuesdays September 20, 2016

  • State tourism website features Fall Color Map
  • Italian tour operator includes Alabama in literature itinerary
  • Sculpture of Jeffrey, Kathryn Tucker Windham’s famous ghost, will haunt Selma
  • Condé Nast Traveler spotlights the 18 most underrated cities in the U.S.
  • Highlands Bar and Grill named among top restaurants nationwide
  • Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging funding for Gulf State Park hotel
  • Foley pedestrian bridge to open
  • Openings for Tourism Promotional Representatives
  • Alabama Tourism Workshop Oct. 5
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events



State tourism website features Fall Color Map

An interactive map on the Alabama Tourism Department’s website allows visitors to see the predicted fall color change for each weekend this fall.  The map, a list of recommended viewing sites and a fall colors driving route are all available on the state tourism website at  


Large concentrations of hardwoods make Alabama State Parks some of the best places to enjoy the fall color change.  Joe Wheeler has an excellent viewing spot next to the dam and near the cabin area on the Lawrence County side.  Autumn scenery can be found at DeSoto State Park at Little River Canyon and DeSoto Falls.  Monte Sano has views of the Tennessee Valley along the Warpath Ridge Trail and its overlook.  Cheaha’s Bald Rock and Pulpit Rock trails both have excellent views.  Cheaha is the highest point in the state at 2,407 feet above sea level.


With cooler days and lower humidity, autumn hosts a variety of outdoor festivals.  Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department, recommends several events designed around being outdoors and enjoying the fall weather.


Outdoor events scheduled for this fall include the Cullman Oktoberfest on Oct. 5-9 that celebrates German culture with authentic food, costumes, and music. The Barber Vintage Festival at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham on Oct. 7-9 features hundreds of vintage motorcycles. The 50th annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention on Oct. 7-9 will have 18 different categories of live music competitions on the campus of Athens State University.

The National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores on Oct. 13-16 features fresh gulf seafood, live music and arts and crafts. The city of Mentone celebrates its annual Colorfest on Oct. 15-16 with a weekend of arts & crafts, family activities and live entertainment. The 45th annual Kentuck Festival of the Arts on Oct. 15-16 in Northport features more than 270 artists and craftspeople.


Alabama Frontier Days in Wetumpka on Nov. 2-5 will have reenactments from French Colonial times to the Early American period.  Nearly 200 songwriters from across the country will be performing in venues all along the Alabama Gulf Coast during the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival on Nov. 3-13. The Oyster Cook-Off and Craft Beer Weekend on Nov. 4-5 at The Hangout in Gulf Shores features all-star chefs and live entertainment. The National Peanut Festival in Dothan on Nov. 4-13 is the nation’s largest peanut festival.

The World Food Championships come to The Wharf in Orange Beach on Nov. 11-13 and will feature 400 champion teams from 20 countries and 45 states competing for the ultimate food crown.

A complete list of fall events is available at:


Italian tour operator includes Alabama in literature itinerary

The Italian tour operator Alidays has recently posted a literary tour of the southern USA.  The Literary Experiences in the South is a three-state tour posted to the website and includes sites in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.

The Alabama postings highlight Monroeville and Montgomery. 

In Monroeville, there are three postings that focus on Harper Lee, Truman Capote and the local Birdhouse Trail.  In Montgomery, the postings spotlight the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum as well as food in Alabama by way of the book Fried Green Tomatoes

The web-based tour operator’s core business feature trips to America.  Rosemary Judkins met with Gluseppe Gerevini, the company’s North American specialist at International P W in June.  Alabama’s shared Travel South representative in Italy also worked on this project.

To view the website entries for Alabama, go to:

Harper Lee and Monroeville:

Birdhouse Trail, Monroeville:

Truman Capote, Monroeville:

F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Montgomery:

Alabama Food, Montgomery:

For more information on Alabama’s international marketing, contact


Sculpture of Jeffrey, Kathryn Tucker Windham’s famous ghost, will haunt Selma

By The Associated Press, Sept. 19

Jeffrey the Ghost will be spotted across Selma during the month of October.

Main Street Selma is working with local artist Charlie “The Tin Man” Lucas to display a Jeffrey sculpture around town next month.

Main Street President Clay Carmichael said the sculpture is a way to honor Kathryn Tucker Windham while supporting local artists.

Windham was perhaps best known for her series of ghost stories across the South, including “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey.”  Jeffrey allegedly haunted Windham’s home in Selma.

The Jeffrey sculpture will be made from an old washing machine donated by Windham’s daughter Dilcy Windham Hillery, according to Lucas.

Lucas said he called Dilcy about what he wanted to do, and she offered to donate the washing machine that her mother had used.  Lucas earned his nickname by using tin and other metal in his sculptures.

Starting Sep. 30, the sculpture will make its way to different members of Main Street Selma beginning with Queen City Market.  Other stops include Carter Drug Company, Pringle Petals, ArtsRevive, Charlie’s Place, Pilcher-McBryde Drug Company and more.

Carmichael said clues would be given out at participating Main Street businesses about the sculpture’s journey across town.  Anyone who spots Jeffrey is encouraged to post a picture on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtags #jeffreytheghost, #mainstreetselma and #alwayshome.

Everyone who posts a picture will be entered into a grand drawing for a gift basket, which will be awarded during Main Street’s Halloween party in late October.

According to realtor AC Reeves, the idea for a rotating sculpture came from Montgomery’s Nanny the Goat campaign, which was used to promote food and entertainment in the capital city.

To read this entire article online, go to:


Condé Nast Traveler spotlights the 18 most underrated cities in the U.S.

By Condé Nast Traveler editors and Ashlea Halpern, Sept. 14

What makes a city underrated? To start, it can’t have its own TV show. (Sorry, Portland. You too, Philadelphia.) Sometimes, it takes a wedding or a business trip to bring us to different parts of the country, but these 18 American cities—from Athens, Georgia to Boise, Idaho—make great destinations unto themselves. We love them for their dining and microbrew scenes, cultural attractions, or just that under-the-radar charm.


Eager developers have poured money into Birmingham with the goal of recapturing a bit of that old Southern magic.

Railroad Park, a 19-acre green space downtown, helped kickstart the revitalization.  Regions Field, an 8,500-seat minor league baseball stadium, opened in the spring of 2013, then came the renovation of the century-old Lyric Theatre.  And let’s not forget the Pepper Place complex, seven buildings totaling 227,000 square feet that once housed the Dr. Pepper Syrup Plant and Bottling Company.  Today it’s home to a design center, theater, restaurants, shops, galleries, and ’Bama’s largest farmers market.

To read this entire article online, go to:


Highlands Bar and Grill named among top restaurants nationwide

By Tim Steere, Birmingham Business Journal, Sept. 15

Highlands Bar and Grill is in the spotlight once again after being named to OpenTable’s top 100 Restaurants for Foodies in America list.

“It’s a great honor and accolade for our team at Highlands to be included on Open Table’s annual list,” owner Frank Stitt told the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ).  “This affirmation by our guests means a lot to all of us, as we strive to always offer the best food, hospitality and overall dining experience.”

The restaurant was the only Alabama eatery named to the list, which reflects the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants across the country.

These standout restaurants are delicious destinations for the most passionate eaters — those for whom dining out is practically sport,” said Caroline Potter, OpenTable Chief Dining Officer, in a press release.  “Using ingredients both humble and exotic and drawing culinary inspiration from around the globe, this year’s honorees consistently offer thrilling experiences sure to please even the most discerning diners.”

All restaurants with a minimum overall score and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration.

Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to the percentage of qualifying reviews for which “fit for foodies” was selected as a special feature.

The OpenTable mention is one of several headlines generated by Highlands Bar and Grill in recent months.  In May the restaurant was named a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Award.

To read this article online, go to:


Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging funding for Gulf State Park hotel

By Mike Cason,, Sept. 15

Another lawsuit challenging the funding for the new hotel and conference center at Gulf State Park has been dismissed.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin dismissed the lawsuit filed by State Auditor Jim Zeigler and state Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay, who alleged that the BP oil spill funds being used for the project were not authorized by the Legislature for that purpose.

Griffin ruled that Morrow and Zeigler lacked standing to bring the lawsuit.

Griffin cited a previous ruling by Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs, who dismissed a lawsuit filed by former state Conservation Commissioner Charles Grimsley making similar claims.

In that case, Hobbs ruled that Grimsley lacked standing as a taxpayer because the money for the project was coming from BP, not taxpayers.

Morrow and Zeigler asserted
 that their official positions gave them standing to bring the lawsuit and based that claim on other cases.

But Griffin, in a four-page order, found that those cases were not persuasive and ruled that Morrow and Zeigler did not have standing and also noted that their claims concerned money coming from BP, not from taxpayers.

Gov. Robert Bentley, a proponent of the Gulf State project and a defendant in the case, issued a statement saying that Griffin’s decision reiterates the point that the project is being funded through legal means.

“The redevelopment of the Gulf State Park will benefit Alabama as well as all state parks throughout the state,” Bentley said.

Zeigler said he and his lawyers will study the ruling and decide whether to appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court.

Zeigler has also criticized the governor for using $1.8 million in BP funds to fix the state-owned governor’s beach house in Baldwin County.

The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel, will replace the lodge that was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

It is expected to open in 2018.

To read this article online, go to:


Foley pedestrian bridge to open

Foley will celebrate the opening of the city’s pedestrian bridge on Friday, Sept. 23, at 10 a.m. The city invites everyone to attend and participate in the first walkover as Foley’s new bridge is opened. The brief ceremony will begin in the John B. Foley Park on Ala. 59 near the fountain.

The bridge allows for safe crossing for pedestrians over the busy highway, and now serves as a distinctive landmark for travelers on Ala. 59.  The bridge is located just north of Foley’s main intersection of Ala. 59 and U.S. 98.  Stairs and elevators situated in towers located on each side of the highway allow access to the 110 ft. span.  The bridge was designed by Sted McCollough of McCollough Architecture.

The pedestrian bridge, along with new sidewalks and multiuse paths, are the latest of several recent improvements in downtown Foley.  Other improvements include a clock tower and plaza built in 2015 to commemorate the city’s 100th birthday, a dog park dedicated in March of 2016 and streetscape improvements throughout the downtown area that have been added over the past few years.

With an estimated population of 17,096, Foley has experienced an 11 percent increase in population since 2011, making it one of the fastest growing cities in Baldwin County.

In 2015, the research and rankings website named Foley one the top 20 “Best Towns in Alabama.”


Openings for Tourism Promotional Representatives

The Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) is seeking applicants for Tourism Promotional Representatives in our

Welcome Centers.  ATD Personnel Director Lori Syck urges people from various hospitality segments to apply, “Our goal is to build a qualified applicant pool for vacancies in the eight Alabama Welcome Centers. These positions are front line and we are especially interested in people with experience in hotel, airline, food service, CVB’s, attractions and related tourism fields.”

To apply go to or for more information call Debbie Wilson at the Alabama Tourism Department at 334-353-4516.


Alabama Tourism Workshop on Oct. 5

The Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) will hold its fall Tourism Workshop in Montgomery on Wednesday, Oct. 5.  Some of the staff members in attendance will be: Cody Eason (graphics), Rick Harmon (publications editor), Graham Roderick (international and domestic newsletter editor) and Peggy Collins (Tourism Tuesdays newsletter editor) – all of the Publications Division.

The ATD offers a workshop twice a year for new tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in their area.  This workshop gives participants an opportunity to talk with staff members from each ATD division. 

For additional information and to register, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or e-mail: Rosemary.Judkins@Tourism.Alabama.Gov.


Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Oct. 5                                      Alabama Tourism Workshop                          Montgomery

Oct. 24 – 25                            AL-TN-MS Rural Tourism Conference         Columbus, MS

Nov. 13 – 15                           Welcome Center Retreat                                 Birmingham



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