Tourism Tuesdays July 10, 2018

Several Alabama sites part of $1 million grant to preserve African American history
Food Destination: Alabama’s Orange Beach and Gulf Shores: Part 1
Reality TV show wants to change the world, starting in Alabama
New walking trail bridge to open soon in downtown Montgomery
Restaurants, sign up now for Alabama Restaurant Week 2018
Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism
“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


Several Alabama sites part of $1 million grant to preserve African American history
From the article by Anna Beam on

Several Alabama sites are among the recipients of a $1 million grant to preserve African American history.

The grant, announced Friday, came from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Trust also announced the newly established African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund — a $25 million multi-year national initiative aimed at uplifting the largely overlooked contributions of African Americans by protecting and restoring African American historic sites and uncovering stories of African Americans connected to historic sites nationwide.

Grants were given across four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming and interpretation.

Several sites in Alabama were among the 16 grant recipients. Birmingham civil rights sites including the 16th Street Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church and Colored Masonic Temple were among the recipients.

These locations are some of the places where Rev. Shuttlesworth, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy and foot soldiers fought segregation and made strides in the Civil Rights Movement.

The Tuskegee University Rosenwald School Program was another Alabama recipient. In 1881, Booker T. Washington created Tuskegee University despite having no land, faculty or students. The school has grown into a world-renowned institution and is creating a new generation of black architects and preservationists, National Trust officials said.

In March, Alabama was awarded more than $2.3 million in grants to preserve civil rights landmarks.

Below is a list of projects and the dollar amount granted for the project:
•Restoration of Mount Zion A.M.E. Zion Church Memorial Annex – $500,000
•Restoration and rehabilitation of the Perry County Jailhouse – $500,000
•Preservation, repair and restoration of the Historic 16th Street Baptist Church: Phase III – $500,000
•Moore Building Master Plan and Phase I rehabilitation – $365,720
•Second phase continuation in the preservation of Brown Chapel AME – $300,000
•21st Century preservation and the next generation of global activism: archives preservation
and digitization project – $44,918
•Civil Rights Struggle in the Shoals – $45,364
•Freedom Rides Museum 60th Anniversary Commemoration Exhibit – $50,000
•Montgomery Alabama Civil Rights Survey planning, research and documentation – $50,000

For the complete article please see

Food Destination: Alabama’s Orange Beach and Gulf Shores: Part 1
From the article by Lisa Kivirist on

Editor’s note: This article has two parts. Part two will run in a future newsletter.

Orange Beach and the Gulf Shores in Alabama are laid-back, welcoming places, especially for nature lovers. The coastal, island-based, adjoining communities are unpretentious and un-showy, without the celeb drama queens in their Maserati cars and glitz often found in other beach hotspots. There’s the Gulf of Mexico on one side and state parks and a wildlife refuge cradling accommodations and restaurants in the now booming tourism industry.

Friends and families mostly gather here, many annually, to put their toes in the sand, climb up on skim boards and savor some of the most local, freshest and creatively presented, Gulf-caught seafood around, establishing the ecotourism destination (more on this in future articles) as a food travel stop not to be missed as well.

The dining hotspots are casual, sometimes crowded, but always friendly. The local and sustainable-minded food scene is on the rise, especially when it comes to super-freshly caught seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll find area chefs increasingly going out of their way to feature fresh “nuisance fish” on the menu, like the dreaded and invasive Lionfish, or “trash fish,” fish that often get tossed away.

The great news is that these fish taste great and are good for the environment, a win-win for foodies flocking to the Gulf Shores. Joined by photographer John Ivanko, we explored the flavors on a recent trip, covered in this two-part food travel piece.

Savoring seafood helps save the oceans at CoastAL
Chef Chris Sherrill at CoastAL, is what one might call a big fish in a small pond. He’s a local culinary legend, thanks to his unique twists on the expected. Why just have a beignet when you can have beignet fries complete with dipping sauce, a Sherrill specialty. Yet he comes across as down home and personable, someone you’d like have join you on your fishing boat for an afternoon.

Chef Sherrill’s commitment to the Gulf Shores and stewarding the economic vibrancy and sustainability scene run deep. He’s the reason the World Food Championship is now held in Orange Beach annually, bringing over 1,500 top competitors to the Gulf Shores and over 30,000 viewers tuning in.

At his CoastAL restaurant, Chef Sherrill also leads a local initiative to better use and steward the unappreciated, yet locally abundant, seafood readily found in the Gulf of Mexico.  Sherrill co-founded the NUISANCE Group, which stands for “Nuisance, Underutilized, and/or Invasive, that are also Sustainable and Available, through Noble Culinary Endeavors,” committed to education around these underused and underrated local edibles.

“It’s a mouthful of an acronym that basically says we want to put ‘trash fish’ and other nontraditional, regional foods to good use and show people that they can eat these species and that they are actually really tasty,” explains Sherrill, whose commitment to conservation reaches back to his youth when he achieved Eagle Scout. “The Lionfish, for example, is invading the reef systems in the Gulf and doesn’t have any predators. We can serve up something delicious and also include a side of education on how we need to protect our environment.”

For lunch, he dazzled us with several variations of shrimp: BBQ Colossal Alabama Brown Shrimp, Royal Red Shrimp and Grits with Bill E’s Bacon and Crispy Fried Pink Shrimp served over risotto and grilled local squash. He also blackened a coastal “junk fish” by the name of Sheepshead, perfect with the garlic-herb cream it came with. Sheepshead fish have teeth that actually resemble a humans’, with incisors and molars, which turn off many who hook them on their lines.

Asian fusion finds an island home at Fin & Fork
How can you go wrong when a fine dining restaurant that showcases seafood is owned by the veteran husband-wife team of Matt and Regina Shipp? Yes, their last name is Shipp. A new addition to the Orange Beach foodie scene, Fin & Fork, with a slogan of Fresh Gulf Shore Eats, has a menu that offers a mash up of fine seafood offerings with island and Asian influences. Everything is prepared from scratch and in-house. Most of the ingredients are hauled from the Gulf waters or grown in their own county soil.

If you share our desire to try every item on the menu, the “Locals Favorite” will take you in that direction with a selection of house favorites including panko encrusted grouper, Gulf shrimp and jumbo lump crab in a wine butter sauce. You’ll also find creative and colorful sushi rolls and Asian-influenced appetizers such as steamed boa buns with local pork Korean BBQ style alongside beignets stuffed with crabs and mascarpone.

No Gulf Shores dining experience is complete without a Bushwacker cocktail. It’s basically a creamy, boozy adult milkshake that’s seemingly enjoyed by macho ranch-hands and ladies alike. Most restaurants offer their own twist on the creamy and fruity combinations that go into their frozen concoction. Fin & Fork’s version features bananas and chocolate, making it the most decadent by far.

For the complete article please see

Reality TV show wants to change the world, starting in Alabama
From the article by Brad Harper on

The people behind a reality TV show filmed this past weekend in Montgomery want to put the power to save the world in the hands of everyday people, ones who have the passion to make it happen.

“Brilliant Disruptors” had an open casting call Saturday in Montgomery. Filming began on the first three episodes. The “cast” was anyone who has an idea for how to use an investment to help those in need while also generating money. They pitched the ideas to a rotating group of local judges, and viewers. A vote was taken. The winners advanced to a national competition for investment.

It’s “Shark Tank” meets “American Idol,” with a socially conscious spin.

Executive producer Sean Kumar said one contestant pitched a free salon college and small business startup program to help women who have struggled with addiction re-integrate into society. He said other successful companies have already proven that social philanthropy can exist within that kind of self-sustaining business model. Toms Shoes, for instance, built its business on the idea of donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair it sold.

Kumar thinks more ideas like that are out there and could help change the world on a wider scale. So “Brilliant Disruptors” was born, with the concept of digging them out zip code, by zip code.

After Montgomery, it’s on to Atlanta, then Boston.

“We’ll tell all the moms, and everybody in the church group, and the dry cleaners,” he said. “I’ve done this. I’ve asked people, and they all have an idea. My dry cleaner gave me an idea this morning. You’ve got idea? Come on, we’ll put you on camera. Let’s see if your idea is supported by America.

“It could be anything. It could be related to hunger. It could be providing support or mentorship. Nonprofits have great human energy here, and they struggle for money all the time. … But if you come up to me and say, ‘Listen, I’ve got a great business idea, it’s going to make you 10 percent on your investment,’ guess what? I’m listening.”

Details on the air date and station haven’t been announced yet, but Kumar said they have deals in place with a distributor, a network and several streaming services. It’s being produced by Uptone Pictures.

The show’s creators compare it to “Shark Tank,” “American Inventor,” “Dragon’s Den” and “Restaurant Startup,” but Kumar said the ideas don’t have to be as refined or as close to becoming reality as some of the ones featured in those shows. “Brilliant Disruptors” was built for “the napkin idea.”

“Martin Luther King didn’t say, ‘I have a plan.’ He said, ‘I have a dream,’” Kumar said.

People who show up to pitch an idea on Saturday are encouraged to bring props or images to help them explain, but Kumar said you shouldn’t expect people to put much stock in your Powerpoint.

“Passion speaks louder than anything else,” he said.

For the complete article please see

New walking trail bridge to open soon in downtown Montgomery
From the article on

A new walking bridge should soon open to the public in downtown Montgomery.

The 230-foot “trail bridge” project runs from the Amphitheater toward North Court Street and will connect the amphitheater to the inlet.

Right now, though, city officials caution that the bridge is not ready for public use and ask that the public not to go down to it until the project is completed and made safe.

The project is not yet fully lighted or code-ready for use and will need rezoning by the city for public access. The rezoning is set to go before the Montgomery Planning Commission later in July and to the Montgomery City Council in early September.

Lois Cortell, the senior development manager for the city, said this new bridge is just one segment along a growing trail but calls it a “milestone.”

“Ideally, this is part of a larger goal since the downtown plan in 2007 and how to improve access,” Cortell said. “Longterm all the way to Northern Boulevard and beyond. This is a milestone and one of the more difficult segments.”

City officials say the project is being paid for with a $100,000 from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration through an ADECA grant.

Five historic markers which were moved for the Wright Flyer Park have been restored and placed back along the trail, which runs from Wright Flyer Park to the amphitheater.

For the complete article please see

Restaurants, sign up now for Alabama Restaurant Week 2018
Restaurants, sign up and be a part of the locally owned and operated restaurants that participate in Alabama Restaurant Week 2018. This year the more-than-weeklong event is Aug. 10-19. Last year almost 100 restaurants were a part of the event showcasing local food, fun and flavor.

Participating restaurants will receive in-store promotional items and be listed on the website along with their meal offerings. Participating restaurants set meal prices at $10, $20, $30 and $40 for dinner and $10 and $15 for lunch. In all cases, the price is per person and does not include tax, tip and drink. Restaurants have the choice of offering one or more meals at the preset price.

There is no cost for restaurants to participate in this statewide promotion. For more details and sign-up information, please contact Courtney Austin at or 334-242-4674.

Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism
The Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism is Aug. 4-7 at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa.

Early Bird Registration and Early Bird (Convention Block) at the Renaissance Montgomery end on July 20.

The conference provides tourism professionals a chance to gather and learn about the economic impact of the industry on the Alabama economy, learn new strategies for marketing local Alabama attractions and amenities to visitors, raise money for scholarships through silent auctions and celebrate achievements.

For an agenda, list of speakers and registration information please see

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
Adding images to your Partner profile not only makes your location or event more appealing, it also greatly increases the chances of it being featured elsewhere on the AlabamaTravel site. To add images, log into the Partners website, select your event or location, select “Edit”, scroll to the “Images” box, select “Choose File”, select the image you would like to display and add a caption. You may add up to 6 JPG, GIF, or PNG files.

Time to login and upload your images!


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