Tourism Tuesdays September 26, 2017

Sentell to receive Service to the Humanities award

The Birmingham Museum of Art has named a new leader

Four ways to experience Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

Old St. Stephens Day Celebration announced

Hartselle unveils new historical sign at Chamber

Alabama sausage selected one of America’s most iconic breakfast foods

2017 Alabama Welcome Center Retreat, Nov. 12-14

Alabama Tourism Department Workshop rescheduled

Bicentennial community workshop rescheduled in Opelika

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


Sentell to receive Service to the Humanities award


Lee Sentell, who was recently reappointed as Alabama Tourism Director by Gov. Kay Ivey in April, will be honored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation with the 2017 Wayne Greenhaw Service to the Humanities Award on Oct. 2 at the Alabama Colloquium at Birmingham’s The Club.

The Greenhaw Service to the Humanities Award recognizes past and current board members who have given extraordinary service to the humanities in Alabama.  It is named in the memory of Wayne Greenhaw, a former AHF board member who was a well-known author and historian in the state.

Sentell is past chair of Travel South USA, the nation’s largest regional tourism marketing agency.  He has served on the boards of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Alabama Historical Commission, Alabama State Council on the Arts, Alabama Humanities Foundation and Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Sentell, who will complete his 15th year in January was initially appointed director of the Alabama Tourism Department by Gov. Bob Riley in January 2003, and reappointed by Gov. Robert Bentley in 2011.  Sentell is the first four-term cabinet-level director, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Under his leadership the Alabama Tourism Department has won national awards for campaigns such as the Year of Alabama Arts, the Year of Alabama Food, the Year of Alabama History, the Year of Alabama Barbecue and numerous other programs.

Sentell authored what many consider the state’s best travel guide titled “The Best of Alabama.”  He also directed the publication of the 2016 book “100 Things You Need to Know About Alabama,” as well as publications on the Civil Rights Trail, the Hank Williams Trail, Alabama Road Trips and 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.

He is coordinating an effort by 12 Southern states to launch the U.S. Civil Rights Trail in early 2018.

A native of Ashland, Alabama and a graduate of Auburn University, he has twice been a finalist for the U.S. Travel Association’s State Travel Director of the Year.

During the past 15 years, Alabama’s tourism and hospitality industry has grown by 104 percent.  It generated more than $13.3 billion last year.  An economic study estimated that without this tourism spending and the money it generates for Alabama’s General Fund, every family in the state would have to pay $444 more in taxes this year.

The Birmingham Museum of Art has named a new leader
From the article by Ty West in the Birmingham Business Journal:

Graham C. Boettcher has been appointed by the museum’s board of trustees as the new R. Hugh Daniel Director for the Birmingham Museum of Art.

He was selected after a six-month national search. He will succeed Gail C Andrews, who previously announced plans to retire after 21 years of leadership at the museum.

Boettcher has been with the museum since 2006, and members of the board say he distinguished himself over that period of time and during the interview process.

“Graham has proven himself as a distinguished scholar of art history, a dedicated steward of our collection, and a highly-regarded community leader who is committed to realizing the mission and vision of our prized institution,” said James K. Outland, chairman of the board of trustees. “Graham has created new avenues for accessing art, from both a visitorship perspective and financial standpoint. We look forward to the possibilities his leadership will provide in elevating the Birmingham Museum of Art to even greater heights, as he builds on Gail Andrews’ incredible legacy.”

Boettcher has degrees from Yale University and the University of Washington.

He started at the Birmingham Museum of Art as the Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Fellow in American Art. He was hired as curator of American art after his fellowship ended, becoming the newly endowed William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art.

After six years, he became chief curator and, in February 2016, he was promoted to the James Milton  and Sallie R. Johnson Deputy Director.

“I’m thrilled to serve as the BMA’s next director and lead the institution in the coming years, especially as we explore new and dynamic ways to engage and serve the public,” Boettcher said. “I am grateful to the Board for extending to me this opportunity, to my predecessor Gail Andrews for her exemplary dedication to the museum, and to the BMA’s exceptionally talented staff for continuously striving for the highest standards of excellence.”

He will assume the new role on Sept. 20. Andrews will stay on through Oct. 6 to facilitate the transition.

For the complete article please see

Four ways to experience Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama
From the article by Jennifer Bain on

To enter Souvenir City on Perdido Beach Boulevard., steel yourself to walk through the menacing open jaws of a shark. Granted, you can see a very normal row of newspaper boxes under the shark’s pearly whites, plus grinning tourists taking selfies, but allow yourself a split second of retail fear.

Who knows what lurks inside this 61-year-old family-run shop? Kitsch galore — the kind of stuff that tempts you to spend recklessly — but also oddities like a bloody red door with holes drilled into it and a sign that warns: “Only children allowed to look into shark’s stomach.”

I’ll let you experience the shark’s stomach for yourself, but will say that I spent a fair bit of time and money inside Souvenir City with Zoltar, an animatronic fortune-telling machine, who advised that “you change your sky, not your mind, when you cross the sea or land.”

Zoltar also somehow knew that a “busy idleness possesses me” and that I seek a happy life with ships, cars and planes. I bet he tells that to all the tourists, but I did, in fact, do those very things while exploring the neighbouring beach communities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

My “ship” was a 24-foot pontoon boat named Skip’s Trips with Sailaway Charters, and Captain Skip (John Beebe) had us busting our guts with a safety briefing that had us picking duties for a “man overboard” situation (although nobody has ever fallen overboard in his 19 years leading tours).

We went out on Wolf Bay and marvelled at dolphins and pulled up a shrimp net to ogle the catch (shrimp, stingrays, jellyfish and sea walnuts). We sent the entire catch back in the water and made it back to shore without incident, so I never got to be the one to jump into the water and save a man/woman overboard.

My “car” experience, if Zoltar is OK with a loose definition of motorized vehicle, was a Segway outing with Coastal Segway Adventures.

James Yaskowich, a Saskatchewan native who told us this part of Alabama is Snowbird central, gave us safety lessons and ordered us to tool around a parking lot before taking off through Gulf State Park.

Let’s just say that driving a Segway is harder than it looks and I might have cried like I girl when I took a wicked tumble on a bridge. But I climbed back on and stuck with the group, albeit at a fairly slow and cautious speed.

Just remember Yaskowich’s pearls of Segway wisdom: “Be one with the machine, or be off the machine.”

My “plane” experience, Zoltar will be pleased to know, was actually a helicopter ride over Alabama’s sugar sand beaches with Orange Beach Helicopters.

“It’s only my second day on the job,” joked pilot Corey Wallace, “But I read the book two times.” I scored the seat beside him and was a little thrown by the fact the chopper doors were missing.

“No matter how hard I turn this thing, you will not fall out,” Wallace promised, launching into a complex explanation about aerodynamics. When he eventually added that the door removal was “poor man’s air conditioner,” I calmed down.

Alabama, you see, is a little bit flip, proudly rebellious and quirky as all get out.

For the complete article please see

Old St. Stephens Day Celebration announced
On Sat., Oct. 7, Old St. Stephens will celebrate the 200th anniversary of its being named the capital of the Alabama territory. At 10 a.m., a ceremony will begin the commemoration at the site of the former capital. Activities include living history vignettes performed by local school children, historical re-enactors and demonstrations of traditional arts and skills. Guided tours of the St. Stephens archaeology site will offer a fascinating glimpse into the history of the town and its residents. Music, food and dancing will round out the festivities, which are open to the public with a small admission charge of $2 for students and $5 for adults.

The town site of Old St. Stephens is one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in Alabama. During a brief three decades, beginning in the 1790s to its decline in the 1820s, St. Stephens was the site of a Spanish fort, an American fort and “factory,” or trading post, frequented by Choctaw people, and it was the Alabama Territorial capital.

Today old St. Stephens is a historical and recreational park. For more information about the Alabama Territory and St. Stephens’ role in the creation of the state, ( Find out more about Alabama’s history from Alabama Public Television’s Legacy Moments on radio and TV. All Alabama Legacy Moments currently available can be found at

For directions to the park and more information about Old St. Stephens Day, visit or call the park at 251-247-2622.

Old St. Stephens Day is part of a three-year commemoration of the bicentennials of the Alabama Territory and Alabama’s statehood. Activities and events will happen throughout the state. For a calendar of events and information about how you can participate, visit

Hartselle unveils new historical sign at Chamber
From the article by Lauren Estes-Velez on

The Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce recently partnered with a local North Central Alabama Regional Council of Governments member to add a new historical marker in downtown Hartselle, which was unveiled Thursday at 11 a.m.

NARCOG regional transit agency director Robbie Cantrell was one of the main planners of this event’s unveiling, Chamber Director Danielle Gibson said.

“While working on a right-of-way inventory project for the Rural Planning Organization, a function of NARCOG, I discovered text for a marker that was never produced,” Cantrell said. “The marker, or lack thereof, came up during a conversation with Sen. (Arthur) Orr in May. He asked me to get the text to him, and he would see what he could do. The marker would tie in nicely to the Bicentennial Celebration and would be a permanent reminder of one of Hartselle’s, and really Alabama’s, most interesting stories.

“He contacted Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department, and the rest is history.”

The historical marker, located directly in front of the Hartselle Chamber of Commerce, gives facts of the “Great Hartselle Robbery,” which took place in 1926.

For the complete article please see

Alabama sausage selected one of America’s most iconic breakfast foods
From the article by Bob Carlton on

Conecuh County’s famous Conecuh Sausage has been selected one of America’s 51 most iconic regional breakfast foods by Time Inc.’s. breakfast-centric website Extra Crispy.

The legendary sausage, which is prepared and packaged in the Conecuh County town of Evergreen, is available in grocery stores throughout Alabama and around the Southeast.

Conecuh Sausage has also popped up on the menus at such Alabama food establishments as Slice Pizza & Brewhouse, Kowaliga Restaurant, Milo’s, and Bob’s Victory Grille, among others.

Here’s what Extra Crispy wrote about Conecuh Sausage:

“There are plenty of sausages savored across Alabama, but there’s only one Conecuh. The late Henry Sessions founded the family business in 1947, and since then, every single link and coil of the sweet, spicy, hickory-smoked pork sausage has been made in Conecuh County, Alabama. The family uses only natural hog and sheep casings for the meat, and the heavenly scent from the Conecuh Gift Shop (which also sells smoked ham, turkey, and bacon) has been known to draw in motorists off Interstate 65.”

To read about all 51 of Extra Crispy’s iconic regional breakfast foods, visit

Extra Crispy is part of the Time Inc. Food Collection and the Time Inc. Lifestyle Network.

2017 Alabama Welcome Center Retreat, Nov. 12-14
The Alabama Welcome Center Retreat gives the Alabama Tourism Industry the opportunity to showcase our communities with the devoted staff of the Alabama Welcome Centers. Each Center closes so that all employees participate in this educational retreat. The industry trade show gives us the opportunity to share with the staff members of each Center exactly what we have for them to share with their guests, the thousands of travelers stopping at Welcome Centers for travel advice. Hopefully, we will give them enough to entice their visitors to stop, see and stay a little longer with us.

The Registration Fee is $150 for all industry partners, with or without a table top. This fee includes a table top in the Tourism Partner’s Showcase and functions through Tuesday morning breakfast at the TownePlace Suites. Each additional partner pays $150 as well.  This fee goes up to $175 on November 1. There will be NO refunds after November 1 as we will have given all guarantees to our sponsors and to the hotel by then.

For Details Contact: Patti A. Culp, Alabama Travel Council

Alabama Tourism Department Workshop rescheduled
The Alabama Tourism Department’s tourism workshop has been rescheduled for Oct. 12, in Montgomery.  This workshop is designed for new tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone else interested in enhancing tourism in their area. Many of ATD’s staff members will be in attendance at this workshop and you will have an opportunity for one-on-one time with each of them. On Thurs., Oct. 12, the workshop will be at the Alabama Center for Commerce Building, 401 Adams Ave., 10 a.m. – 3 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 

Bicentennial community workshop rescheduled in Opelika
The Alabama Bicentennial Commission community workshop, previously scheduled for Sept. 15 in Opelika, has been rescheduled for Oct. 20.

The workshop will be from 10 a.m. to noon at the Lewis Cooper Jr. Library on 200 S. 6th St.

It has been developed by the Alabama Bicentennial Committee to share information, resources, and funding opportunities regarding Alabama’s three-year bicentennial commemoration. The event is free and open to the public but registration is required at

From family reunions to school service projects, from museum exhibitions to common reading programs and from recipe collections to oral-history interviews, there will be many ways that individuals, groups and communities can involve themselves in the state’s milestone birthday.

The Alabama Bicentennial Commission works to support, create and execute programs that commemorate the past 200 years of Alabama places, people and stories.

From 2017 to the end of 2019, the commission will engage residents and visitors in educational programs, community activities and statewide initiatives that teach, inspire and entertain.

For more information, visit or contact Sam Blakely at, 334-242-5864.

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website

Events vs. Locations: When creating an event, make sure to select the “Events” tab in the far, upper right corner of the Partner site rather than “Location.” The “Location” tab is to be used when creating a new page for your business.

Not a partner yet? Sign up today!


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