Tourism Tuesdays October 17, 2017

Alabama Museums Honor Extraordinary Contributions

Here are the top 55 dishes you must eat in Birmingham

‘Judge Horton coming home’ — Sculptor’s latest work headed to Athens

Two Alabama women key to new ‘Star Trek’ series

Comments are back on FAM tour

Sentell to report on projects

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website

Alabama Museums Honor Extraordinary Contributions
From the article by David Bodle on

Spread throughout the state are attractions that recognize Alabamians who made a difference. Here are just a few to get you started.

Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum spotlights the life of civil rights icon Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It is located in downtown Montgomery at the site where Mrs. Parks was arrested. That event brought about racial integration in transportation and worldwide attention to civil rights. The museum contains historically significant items along with interactive exhibits and multi-media presentations.

Highlights of the collection include the original fingerprint record of Mrs. Parks, who was arrested for breaking the bus segregation law in Montgomery. Four days later she was convicted and fined for her actions and released from her employment at a department store. There’s a bus from the 1955 fleet of Montgomery city buses and a restored station wagon used to transport black workers during the bus boycott. Witness her arrest, attend a mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church and experience how the boycott succeeded with just 19 station wagons.

At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Jesse Owens, the son of sharecroppers, earned a record-winning four gold medals. Thirty years later in Oakville, where he was born, the Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum was dedicated. The 30-acre park includes the visitor center, a bronze statue depicting Owens at the finish line, a long jump pit and replicas of the 1936 torch and his birth home.

Large panels in the museum display Owens’ life from Oakville to his death in 1980, chronicling his athletic accomplishments and humanitarian efforts. The museum displays a rare collection of programs from the 1936 Olympics, replicas of track uniforms and shoes, medals and trophies. The theater plays Return to Berlin, a film in which Owens recalls his 1936 Olympic experience.

Born 1873 in Florence, William Christopher Handy is honored as the “Father of the Blues.” The W. C. Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library, a simple cabin, contains personal papers, memorabilia and artifacts, including his piano and the hand-written sheets of music from many of his original tunes. Handy was best known for composing “St. Louis Blues,” “Beale Street Blues” and “Memphis Blues.”

Handy traced much of his music to the sounds he heard as a child in Florence. Work songs and field hollers, hymns and spirituals, and even the sounds of birds, frogs and farm animals provided a canvas for what was to become his unique sound.

Novelist and short story author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda resided in Montgomery from 1931 to 1932. The F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum is located at the home where they stayed. Zelda was a Montgomery native, and the couple returned regularly after their marriage in 1920. It’s the only museum dedicated to the author and his wife and the only house that survived their seemingly endless traveling. Fitzgerald authored four novels, including The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night, plus four collections of short stories.

The Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery pays tribute to the man and his music legacy. The campus of Alabama Southern Community College in Thomasville is home to the Kathryn Tucker Windham Museum, which takes visitors through Windham’s childhood, her career as a journalist and her fame as a national storyteller. Ivy Green in Tuscumbia is the childhood home of Helen Keller. The property includes the cottage where Keller was born, her childhood house and the well where she first communicated with Anne Sullivan. Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum in Mobile includes memorabilia from Aaron, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Louisville Slugger Museum and Negro Leagues Museum.

For the complete article please see

Here are the top 55 dishes you must eat in Birmingham
From the article by Julia Sayers on

Birmingham is a food town. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again. Our Magic City continuously lands on national lists of “Underrated Food Towns” and “The Next Hot Food Cities.” It got us thinkingif a lot of people are traveling here for food, what are the dishes both they (and we as locals) need to be eating? We are big fans of Alabama Tourism’s “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die,” but we wanted to make a list specifically for Birmingham that encompassed both the old and the new. As our city grows and more restaurants are incorporated, new dishes are solidifying their spots as essential, must-try items. Here are our picks for 55 dishes (in no particular order) that define modern Birmingham and its diverse food culture.

1. Beef Carpaccio from Bottega
The Beef Carpaccio at Bottega was inspired by Harry’s Bar in Venice, where Frank Stitt visited many moons ago. The name Carpaccio comes from Vittore Carpaccio, a Renaissance painter who used bright reds and whites in his paintings. The carpaccio at Bottega also is a work of art. It features thinly-sliced, grass-fed Eye-of-Round layered on top of horseradish cream, and topped with curls of Parmigiano Reggiano, local arugula, olive oil, and salt and pepper. The restaurant alternates between two versions: one where the meat is rolled in north African spices and one without spices.

2. Smoked Chicken with White Sauce from Miss Myra’s
You can smell Miss Myra’s pit-smoked barbecue a mile away. Even Andrew Zimmern has proclaimed the chicken the “best barbecue chicken in America.” A crisp, golden skin surrounds the smoky-flavored moist chicken, but it’s not Miss Myra’s until you top it with their signature Alabama white barbecue sauce. The sauce has all the characteristics of a stellar white sauce: it’s tangy, creamy, and peppery.

3. Sammie from Big Spoon Creamery
It’s no secret that Big Spoon has incredible ice cream. Each flavor is made in-house with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, and they taste even better in a signature ice cream sandwich. The sammie flavors change with the ice cream flavors, but you can always get “The Classic” with vanilla bean ice cream, Valrhona chocolate chip cookies, and Maldon sea salt. The cookies are made in-house and cut into thin rounds, creating the perfect ratio of cookie to ice cream.

4. Oxtails from Eagle’s Restaurant
Oxtails are found on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at the family-owned soul food restaurant. Oxtail refers to the tail of the cattle, and Eagle’s cooks theirs for three and a half hours with simple seasonings. The result is fall-off-the-bone meat that’s not meant to be eaten with a knife and forkpick it up and dig in.

5. Fried Chicken from Cafe Dupont
This isn’t your average fried chicken. Chef Chris Dupont elevates a Southern classic by using Joyce Farms chicken breast, pounded thin. The chicken is buttermilk-fried, resulting in moist, tender chicken coated in a golden-brown crispy breading. It is served over creamy, truffle mashed potatoes and a grilled crookneck squash. The dish is finished off with a rich, lemon beurre blanc that ties the elements together and makes this the best fried chicken you’ll taste.

6. Oysters from 5 Point Public House
The best place to slurp down a dozen oysters over happy hour is the sister restaurant to Ocean. With a selection of eight different oysters from a variety of regions, the restaurant has one of the city’s finest selections that includes Alabama’s Murder Point and Mon Louis oysters, as well as Virginia’s Little Bitches and Rappahannock River oysters. Don’t like them raw? Try them fried or baked with bacon, blue cheese, and house-made hot sauce.

7. Milo’s Famous Burger from Milo’s
Milo Carlton started cooking burgers as a mess cook in the U.S. Army. He perfected his secret, now-famous Milo’s sauce after opening his first burger shop in 1946. It may seem like any other fast-food restaurant to visitors, but for Birminghamians, Milo’s burger can’t be beat. A grilled patty is topped with onions, pickles, cheese, and the secret sauce and served on a warm, grilled bun.

8. Steamed Buns from Shindigs
Shindigs Food Truck was one of the original places to introduce Korean steamed buns to Birmingham. The three-bite buns are perfect for a snack, or ordered in multiples for a meal. Pillowy soft steamed buns are stuffed with your choice of pork belly, beef short rib, or fried catfish. Each bun is spread with homemade Hoisin sauce, and different sauces and accompaniments are matched to the meats.

9. Ice Pops from Steel City Pops
These pops made from all-natural ingredients have been cooling Birmingham down since 2012. The gourmet pops elevate the standard ice pop but play to the nostalgia of the sweet treat. Ingredients for the pops are locally-harvested and -sourced whenever possible, which makes for a creative, rotating seasonal flavor list. Favorites include Strawberry Lemonade and Watermelon in the fruity variety, and Coffee and Buttermilk in the creamy ones.

10. Tomato Salad from Hot & Hot Fish Club
Chris Hastings’ tomato salad is a staple of Birmingham summers. Highlighting the freshest Southern summer produce, the dish is a colorful stack of heirloom tomato slices, marinated field peas and corn, and crispy bacon. The “salad” is topped with chive dressing and accompanied by whole fried okra.

For the complete article and a full list of dishes please see

‘Judge Horton coming home’ — Sculptor’s latest work headed to Athens
From the article by Marian Accardi on

Statues created by Casey Downing Jr. are on display across his home state, and his latest work, a statue of former Circuit Judge James E. Horton Jr., will be dedicated Thursday at the Limestone County Courthouse.

Downing, a Mobile resident, was hired by the Judge Horton Monument Committee to create the life-size 6-foot-2 bronze statue of Horton, noted for his decision in the Scottsboro Boys case.

Horton, a Limestone County native, in 1933 presided over the retrial of Heywood Patterson, one of the nine black teenagers falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931. An all-white jury convicted Patterson and sentenced him to death, even though an alleged victim recanted her accusation and some witnesses gave conflicting testimony. The judge set aside Patterson’s conviction and death sentence in a ruling at the Limestone County Courthouse.

“Judge Horton did the right thing, knowing it would cost him,” said Downing. “You don’t see much of that today. He was a real hero.”

Downing relied on family and archival photographs and conversations with family members in his research for the statue, which was completed about a month ago.

“I’m really excited about getting it installed,” said Downing, who works out of a studio located in a former warehouse in downtown Mobile.

Downing, a sculptor since graduating from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1976, has enjoyed drawing since he was a child.

“I was the grade-school artist who did the backdrop for the school play and the bulletin boards,” he said.

One of Downing’s statues is in Huntsville, part of the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial that honors the historic group of African-American soldiers. The statue depicts 10th Cavalry Sgt. George Berry on his horse, and it rests on a 10-foot-tall, 35,000-pound granite base inscribed with the history of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Another of Downing’s pieces is not far from his home, at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Dedicated last year, “The Recruit” is an 8-foot bronze statue representing those who have taken the oath of enlistment when joining military service. Downing’s 8-foot-tall statue of boxing great Joe Louis sits on the west side of the Chambers County Courthouse in Louis’ home county.

“Each one is special in its own way,” Downing said. “Your latest one is your favorite. You get into it and get excited about it and, over time, you hope to get better with each one.”

Downing also created life-size bronze statues of five Alabama chief justices, the focal points of the Judicial Court of Honor in Montgomery.

Those statues got the attention of retired Circuit Court Judge Jimmy Woodroof on his trips to Montgomery while serving as president of the Circuit Judges’ Association.

“I couldn’t believe how perfect they were,” he said. “It was like you could speak to them.”

Woodroof, who spearheaded the Judge Horton Monument Committee, contacted Downing, and “we developed a concept of what I wanted to do here.”

As Woodroof expressed in his personal tribute to Horton: “When I first read the words on the bronze plaque located on the third floor of the courthouse commemorating Judge Horton’s courageous ruling in the trial of Haywood Patterson, one of the ‘Scottsboro Boys,’ I knew a more public recognition of this special man was needed.”

Once the extensive renovation of the Limestone County Courthouse got started, it became clear to Woodroof that the perfect culmination of that effort would be to place a statue of Horton on the west side of the historic building.

The committee hired Downing to create the statue, according to member Holly Hollman, and raised $60,000 through community donations to pay for the 400-pound statue and a 3-foot base of Alabama limestone created by French Mill Stone Inc., an Athens company owned by Mike Grisham.

Rebekah Davis, archivist with Limestone County Archives and a member of the monument committee, commended Downing’s efforts to capture Horton’s character.

“I think it’s an honor long overdue,” Davis said. “I’m excited about Judge Horton coming home.”

The Horton statue will be delivered by Downing personally.

“I’m going to put it in the back of my pickup,” he said. “You know us Southern boys.”

For the complete article please see

Two Alabama women key to new ‘Star Trek’ series
“Star Trek: Discovery” has finally premiered and its star Alabama actress Sonequa Martin-Green is receiving rave reviews. But that’s not the only Alabama connection to the new “Star Trek” series.

The 32-year-old actress, who was born in Russellville and graduated from the University of Alabama, has already gained fame as one of the ensemble stars of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” but is literally and figuratively reaching new heights in outer space boldly going “where no man has gone before.”

In this CBS subscription-service series, she becomes the first African-American woman to be the main star of a “Star Trek” film or series, and critics are lauding her work.

“The first two episodes of ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ … essentially established one thing for me: Sonequa Martin-Green is a star I’d gladly watch navigate from one end of the TV universe to the other,” said The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg.

“That’s a positive for Discovery, because it feels like a star vehicle to a degree well beyond the beloved franchise’s normal ensemble trappings. And Martin-Green, who never really stood out for me during her long run on AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead,’ looks to have the intelligence, command and sheer presence a good ‘Star Trek’ series needs at its heart.”

The other Alabama connection to the new “Star Trek” series is just as interesting.

Showrunner Bryan Fuller has said that one of his main inspirations for Martin-Green’s character is astronaut Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space. Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama, about 47 miles from Martin-Green’s hometown.

For the complete story go to the Alabama Film Office Blog at

Comments are back on FAM tour
A group of tour company representatives and journalists from the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) market visited Alabama in May. This group was on a familiarization (FAM) tour organized by Alabama’s shared in-market representative firm for Belgium and The Netherlands with in-state assistance by Verna Gates and local destination marketing organizations. They toured Huntsville, Birmingham and the Muscle Shoals area.

Marjolein Fraanje, who was a leader of the tour from Target Travel Marketing reports the FAM was a hit with those on the tour reporting back; “Alabama surprised me. A very interesting culture and history”; “Barber Motorsports and Rocket Center were interesting especially because an astronaut explained what they did and still do” and “Besides the famous music cities such as Memphis, New Orleans and Nashville we normally recommend our customers, we now know that we can recommend Huntsville, Muscles and Birmingham that are great music cities too!”

Joelle Krygier of Service Voyages, Lidsay Delvenne of Del tour, Kelly Cornelis of Thomas Cook, Koen Van Ruyskensvelde of USA Travel, Ludwig Verbruggen of TUI, Janina Ooms of Wings n’ Wheels, Mitma Changrangkam of Generaltours, and Regine Masset of BCD were tour company representatives on the FAM.  Journalists included Danny Verheyden, Chef Editor of Travel 2 and Luk De Wilde, a freelance journalist.

The May FAM trip included flight sponsorship from Delta Airlines. The Alabama Tourism Department is a Travel South USA member and part of their Global Partner Program. FAM tours are designed for both increasing Alabama’s tourism products offered by tour companies and for generating travel articles.

Sentell to report on projects
Alabama Tourism Department director Lee Sentell will report on upcoming projects and give a financial report next Wednesday when the agency’s advisory board meets in Atmore.

Sentell, who had been on medical leave, returned to work full time last week. He thanked industry members for cards, phone calls and words of encouragement during his absence.

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