Tourism Tuesdays March 12, 2019

  • Dothan native, executive chef Kelsey Barnard Clark to be celebrated
  • Alabama Tourism Department’s 2019 Spring tourism workshop
  • Statewide walking tours begin in April
  • Journey through American history in Montgomery
  • International downtown conference coming to Huntsville
  • Jefferson Co. hotel bookings break records in 2018
  • Hoover Met Complex scores with nearly $15 million in economic impact
  • Tournaments & Tourism
  • “Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website

Dothan native, executive chef Kelsey Barnard Clark to be celebrated
Visit Dothan is organizing a party to celebrate chef Kelsey Barnard Clark on Thursday, March 14 on North Foster Street.

With one episode to go in the competition on Bravo’s Top Chef, Kelsey is one of three contestants moving on in the competition. The remaining contestants journey overseas to Macau to battle it out in an epic showdown where one winner is crowned the champion. The final episode will air as a special 90-minute season finale on March 14 at 8:30 p.m.

A free, public Wrap-Up Party will take place on North Foster Street on March 14, from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Music from local entertainment Los Locos and Dave Dale, special guests and presentations, food vendors, and a shelter pet adoption event will take place during the street festival. Screens will be set up along North Foster Street to view the show.

Immediately following the episode, a ticketed after-party will begin at The Grand on Foster, with The KJAMS as musical entertainment. Tickets will be $50, purchased prior to March 14 at or, and there will be limited tickets the night of the event at The Grand. All net proceeds of the after-party will benefit area animal shelters.

Kelsey Barnard Clark is a Dothan native, and executive chef and owner of KBC on Foster Street in Downtown Dothan. After attending Auburn University, Kelsey attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. While in New York, she fine-tuned her skills and learned the art of elevated food by working under Gavin Kaysen at Cafe Boulud and then in pastry at John Fraser’s Dovetail. Kelsey’s passion is cooking from the heart, and from her memory. Her dishes are inspired by Southern classics with her French techniques sprinkled throughout. Her popular restaurant, KBC, serves fine, local food with big city flair for lunch Monday – Saturday, brunch on Saturday, and dinner Wednesday and Thursday.

Alabama Tourism Department’s 2019 Spring tourism workshop
The Alabama Tourism Department will host its semi-annual Tourism Workshop, Thursday, April 11. The workshop will be held in Montgomery at the Alabama Center for Commerce Building, 401 Adams Ave., from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. in room 342. 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 attend this workshop and you will have an opportunity for one-on-one time with each of them. 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 

Statewide walking tours begin in April
Some 30 towns across Alabama will be on display during Saturday mornings in April as part of the Alabama Tourism Department’s April Walking Tours.

A variety of community leaders will lead the free tours through the historic districts or courthouse square areas of their hometowns. The hour-long tours will start at 10 a.m. on April 6, 13, 20 and 27.

Towns and starting places for the April Walking Tours are: Athens, Athens Visitor Center; Attalla, Gazebo at 4th St. and 5th Ave.; Bayou La Batre, Mariner Park; Birmingham, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Courtland, Courtland Heritage Museum; Cullman, Cullman County Museum; Decatur, Old State Bank Building; Elba, Chamber of Commerce; Elkmont, Elkmont Depot; Enterprise, Pea River Historical Society; Eutaw, Prairie Avenue; Eufaula, Carnegie Library; Fairhope, Fairhope Welcome Center; Florence, various locations; Foley, Welcome Center.

Huntsville, Confectionary Shop at Constitution Village (April 6 & 13 only); Livingston, McConnell Field on University of West Alabama campus; Madison, Madison Roundhouse (April 20 & 27 only); Mobile, Welcome Center at The History Museum of Mobile; Monroeville, Old Courthouse Museum; Montgomery, Montgomery Area Visitor Center; Mooresville, Post Office; Moulton, Lawrence County Archives; Pell City, City Hall; Prattville, Prattaugan Museum; Selma, Selma-Dallas County Library; Sheffield, Sheffield Municipal Building; Shelby, Iron Works Park; Springville, Springville Museum; Tuscumbia, ColdWater Bookstore.

The tours are being coordinated by Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department. “Alabama is the only state in the nation to hold statewide, simultaneous walking tours. These walking tours are a great way to get out and enjoy the spring weather and find out about the history of our state. More than 36,000 people have participated in the walking tours since the beginning of the program 16 years ago and the tours keep increasing in popularity every year,” Jones said.

More information about the April Walking Tours is available on the Alabama Tourism Department website at

Journey through American history in Montgomery
From the article by Melinda Crow on

The history of Montgomery, Alabama, is inextricably tied to some of the darkest chapters of American history—slavery, Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era. But the city was also home to civil rights leaders like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, country music legend Hank Williams and, for a time, literary It couple F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Montgomery’s culture, its very essence, tells the story of America—the good, the bad and the heartbreaking

What to see and do
Nicknamed “the most historical short street in America,” Dexter Avenue presents a striking opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the leaders of the civil rights movement. The street was the final stretch of the Selma to Montgomery March that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Start your journey at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Rev. Martin Luther King was minister, and the nearby Dexter Parsonage, where the King family lived. During scheduled tours of the church, visitors are encouraged to join in prayer services and gospel hymns.

Prevail Union looks much like any upscale coffee house but its brick walls were made by slave women. Just outside is the former  Montgomery Fair department store, where Rosa Parks worked as a seamstress. Down the street is the Court Square Fountain, once home to Montgomery’s slave trade. (In fact, the road was known as Market Street long before it became Dexter Avenue.) And around the corner on Montgomery Street, the Rosa Parks Museum takes visitors on a fact-filled journey of the bus boycotts of 1955 and 1956, including Parks’ original fingerprint arrest record and other court documents, a 1950s-era Montgomery city bus, and a restored 1955 station wagon (known as a “rolling church”) used to transport boycotters. But perhaps the most striking historical marker in the city is the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, dedicated to the more than 4,000 men, women and children of color lynched and murdered throughout the U.S. between 1877 and 1950.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald called Montgomery home from 1931 to 1932, when F. Scott was writing “Tender is the Night,” and their home is now the Fitzgerald Museum. One of the bedrooms in the house is even listed on Airbnb.

The storefront Hank Williams Museum includes stage outfits, awards, rare photos and other items belonging to the pioneering country singer, including the 1952 Cadillac he died in at age 29.

Across town, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival takes place in Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park, with offerings ranging from “Steel Magnolias” to “Romeo and Juliet.” The same park is home to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, where the exhibits range from glass pieces by Tiffany and Chihuly to watercolors by Homer Winslow. There’s a hands-on children’s section, as well as children’s art and an outdoor exhibition with room for little legs to roam.

Even more to see and do
In case you missed the Hank Williams Museum, there’s a statue of the hillbilly Shakespeare you can pose with at the intersection of Commerce and Tallapoosa, and be sure to read the plaques in the median beyond the statue. At Riverfront Park, you can ride a riverboat, let the kids cool off in a splash pad or enjoy scheduled activities and performances in the amphitheater.  Baseball fans can catch the minor league Montgomery Biscuits at Riverwalk Stadium and get a taste of a simpler time.

Where to eat
Montgomery’s identity is linked to the traditional comfort foods of the South, and river-to-table has been a way of life here for centuries: Think crispy fried catfish coated in golden cornmeal, fluffy dumplings floating in creamy chicken stew. And biscuits. Always biscuits.

Go to the riverfront Capitol Oyster Bar for the food but stay for live music by up-and-coming blues acts.

Chicken and dumplings aren’t hard to find in Alabama, but the luscious balls of dough at Shashy’s Bakery and Fine Foods—light and airy, with large chunks of chicken—are what dreams are made of. And The Vintage Cafe, housed in a former bank in Old Cloverdale, serves a delectable sausage-egg-and-cheese biscuit.

The Montgomery Curb Market is another great lunch destination, offering fresh crockpot-cooked meals and baked goods from local purveyors. For dinner head to Central, where the homemade cheddar-pimento spread is an indication of the deliciousness to come. The menu is seasonal, with inventive pairings like a salad with charred radicchio and pork belly.

Afterward, taste a flight of local beers at Common Bond Brewers, the city’s only production brewery.

Where to stay
If F. Scott Fitzgerald’s room is booked, Montgomery offers several familiar accommodations downtown: The Renaissance Montgomery the DoubleTree by Hilton and the Hampton Inn and Suites are all within walking distance of Dexter Avenue and nearby attractions.

For the complete article please see

International downtown conference coming to Huntsville
From the article by Paul Gattis on

Wernher von Braun, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci and Huntsville all tie together.

Along with a leading downtown organization bringing an international conference to downtown Huntsville.

That’s how Chad Emerson explained it, the CEO of Downtown Huntsville Inc. trumpeting the announcement that the International Downtown Association will bring an event to town in Huntsville.

“The International Downtown Association is the premier organization advocating for downtown development,” Emerson said. “It has members from around the world. For the first time in their history, they are holding a place branding and placemaking summit. They’ve selected downtown Huntsville to host it. For a middle-size city, that’s a really big deal.”

Particularly, Emerson said, considering the IDA is also holding events in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Baltimore, Oklahoma City and Tokyo this year.

But about von Braun (the German rocket scientist), Columbus (the Italian explorer) and Vespucci (an Italian explorer who followed Columbus).

“Our place brand is von Braun thinking, ‘Let’s explore where we’ve never gone before,'” Emerson said. “Let’s try and discover things. It’s almost like Christopher Columbus would have done well here. Amerigo Vespucci would have done well here because they loved to explore the unknown.”

So Huntsville, its “Rocket City” nickname aside, is about more than rockets. As Emerson described it, it’s about the vision behind the rockets.

It’s also a laudable achievement for Huntsville to land the conference, Emerson said.

“What it shows is a middle-size city that really executes a great strategy on place branding and placemaking can become a national best practice example,” Emerson said. “We’ve won IDA awards for five straight years for things like the downtown book boxes. Those type things get noticed.”

The book boxes are a free book exchange using discarded newspaper machines placed throughout downtown Huntsville. If you want a book, you can take a book. If you want to donate a book, you can donate a book.

“People sometimes think you have to have a gazillion-dollar sized project and those are great,” Emerson said. “But sometimes the accumulation of a series of small but still really impactful projects get recognition. And that’s what’s happened here.”

Emerson said about 150 to 200 people will attend the conference at the soon-to-open AC Hotel by Marriott. IDA did not respond to a request for comment Friday by

“Place branding is the authentic story of your place, in this case your downtown or your city,” Emerson said. “The place branding is inherently tied to not just rockets but exploration and discovery in general. That’s in our DNA literally. We’re a community that embraces exploration and discovery. Trying new things, trying big things.

“It’s bigger than just a slogan or a brand or marketing campaign. You can call yourself the best of whatever but what are you authentically about?”

Speakers and panelists from across the country – as well as some from Huntsville, Birmingham and Montgomery — will be leading the summit.

“All of the people are converging here to learn how to tell your story in an authentic way through speakers, through panels, through experential exercises,” Emerson said. “It’s an advanced, high-level course on how to do this. It’s more than marketing, more than slogans.”

For the complete article please see

Jefferson Co. hotel bookings break records in 2018
Birmingham broke hotel booking records in 2017, and reports in from 2018 show another record-breaking year.

Numbers are based on industry analytics provided by the Smith Travel Research group, which produces the STR (“STAR”) report that provides data benchmarking for global hospitality sectors. The report tracks data on hotel activity in 180 countries, including the U.S. The Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau receives the monthly report showing numbers in Jefferson County compared with those in competitor cities located in the Southeastern United States.

The 2018 STR reports showed hotel occupancy in Jefferson County was up 1.8% over record-breaking numbers in 2017. The average daily rate was up as well to a record $90.82. RevPAR (revenue per available room), one of the most important indicators, was up 2.7%. RevPAR is a calculation of how much revenue lodging facilities have made within a certain period.

“We attribute the success of the past year to a number of factors,” J. John Oros, Jr, CVB president and CEO, said. “We hosted high-profile sporting events including the U.S. Women’s Open Championship, the SEC Baseball Tournament, and the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. We also benefit from racing events at Talladega, Alabama football games in Tuscaloosa, and our two major bowl games. This past year we doubled our efforts targeting regional leisure visitors seeking new outdoor activities like climbing, hiking and biking. We’re telling potential leisure visitors to come for an authentic Southern weekend getaway, something that’s rarely been done by the CVB in past years. By all accounts, that’s an advantageous route to follow.”

“We can’t overstate the importance of our civil rights history as a tourism draw, and our nationally-acclaimed, award-winning food scene brings visitors from around the world for the sole purpose of dining,” Oros said. “Our mix of conventions, tradeshows, bowl games, group tours, and professional and amateur sports is a substantial draw, along with shopping, concerts, special events and world-class golf.”

Hoover Met Complex scores with nearly $15 million in economic impact
From the article on

The Hoover Met Complex knocked the ball out of the park in 2018, bringing in $14.86 million in total economic impact from out-of-town visitors and local events.

The sports tourism complex in Hoover, operated by Sports Facilities Management (SFM), hosted more than 1,700 teams, 22,000 athletes and coaches, and 48,000 spectators at traditional and nontraditional sports events. There have been numerous sporting events and tournaments at the 155,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Finley Center since it opened its doors June 16, 2017. Blue Chips Basketball, Worldwide Spirit Association (WSA) Cheer, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Super Regional Volleyball Tournament and Future 150 Basketball were among those events.

A large part of the economic success is due to nonsports-related meetings involving companies including Alabama Power, Birmingham Association of Realtors, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Spectrum. The facility has also welcomed multiple gun shows, Sysco Food Shows and Market Noel.

“We are pleased that the Hoover Met Complex contributed more than $14 million in economic impact through a variety of events in 2018,” said Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato. “With the completion of construction at the Hoover Met Complex and all facets open, we look forward to welcoming more visitors to the city of Hoover to enjoy and compete in many events throughout the new year.”

During 2018, phase two of the construction project was completed. It was marked by the opening of baseball/softball fields, as well as the addition of Hoover Climbing and Adventure, a new interactive Finley Center entertainment option for kids of all ages.

The final phase began on Feb. 1 and will include the construction of 16 tennis courts and five multi-purpose fields, which are National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regulated for football, lacrosse and soccer. Finally, the new Explore Playground and splash pad will be added, and are expected to open in March.

“We are excited to announce the completion of the final phase of the Hoover Met Complex,” said John Sparks, SFM general manager of the complex. “There are already many positive indicators that 2019 could yield even more impressive results for both the complex and our community through economic impact and local programming. We look forward to providing more options for residents and increase tourism as we host additional tournaments throughout the new year.”

Many new and returning events are scheduled at the Hoover Met Complex for 2019. These include the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Baseball Tournament, East Coast Pro, Perfect Game Baseball Association and Adidas Gauntlet.

For the complete article please see

Tournaments & Tourism
From the article by Betsy Iler on

Though actual figures are not yet in, indications are that last month’s Alabama Bass Trail held true to economic impact projections for the Lake Martin area. For a $10,000 investment by the City of Alexander City, the conservative estimate was a projected return of $375,000 to the community, including some 500 hotel nights.

With 225 pre-qualified boats — along with spectators, media coverage and ABT administration and support — the research behind the numbers appeared to be on target.

“Everywhere I went, there were trucks and boats,” said Alexander City Chamber of Commerce Director of Marketing and Special Events Kim Dunn.

The tournament, a southern division event for ABT, drew anglers from Florida and Georgia, as well as Alabama, with some participants arriving in town days before the contest to practice the lake.

“The room nights add up quickly,” said Alabama Bass Trail Director Kay Donaldson.

The ABT event was one of more than 20 tournaments scheduled this season at Wind Creek State Park, and while most of those contests are not on the scale or media stage of ABT, all of them generate economic benefits to the lake area.

Local fishing tournaments play a role in the overall tourism economy at Lake Martin, said Alexander City Chamber President and CEO Ed Collari.

“Tourism is an untapped industry, and the lake is our economic engine,” Collar said.

To make the most of tourism opportunities, the chamber has established a 12-person board with diverse representation from around the community to identify existing tourism draws in the community and to expand and promote other opportunities. The tourism board is part of a five-year strategic plan that was launched early this year by the chamber.

“Our goal in developing this tourism initiative and the lake tourism association is to make Alexander City and Lake Martin a destination and not a drive-thru to other areas,” explained Donna Gabel, chair of the chamber’s tourism initiative. “We want to focus, as well, on the wonderful opportunities the city has to offer to visitors who may be coming for a fishing tournament or a softball tournament. We want them to know about other things going on here at the same time, so they can take advantage of those activities. ”

For the complete article please see

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
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