Tourism Tuesdays Oct. 1, 2019

ATD’s 2019 Fall tourism workshop scheduled

The Lodge and Gulf State Park make memories

Isbell wants Shoals fans to enjoy music festival in hometown

UK Music Festival promotes Alabama trip to their fans

Post Office Pies listed as one of the top pizzerias in the country

Alabama’s Rattlesnake Saloon is a restaurant with a truly cavernous dining room

Public can see legendary cars in Alexander City

25 most popular specialty license plates in Alabama

State tourism website features Fall Color Map

Jones takes new role with the Alabama Film Office

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


ATD’s 2019 Fall tourism workshop scheduled
The Alabama Tourism Department will host its semi-annual Tourism Workshop, Wed., Oct 16. The workshop will held be in Montgomery at the Alabama Center for Commerce Building, 401 Adams Ave., from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. in room 342. The 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 

The Lodge and Gulf State Park make memories
From the article by Dave Bodle on

One of the gems in the Alabama State Parks system is Gulf State Park. A diamond within the park is the soon to be one-year-old, The Lodge at Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel.

Gulf State Park is located on the Gulf of Mexico in the City of Gulf Shores. The park has 6,500 acres of protected land and is part of the Alabama State Parks system. The Alabama Tourism Department named Gulf State Park the 2019 Attraction of the Year. The adage “there’s something for everyone” is the best way to describe the amenities of the park.

Certainly, the beaches are a calling card. The park boasts 3.5 miles of wide, white sandy beach, which is perfect for shell collecting, leisurely walks or relaxing. The beach pavilion is a perfect gathering point for a picnic or just getting away from the sun.

Migrating and resident birds call the park home and there’s flora to discover along the nature trails. There are bikes to rent and guided Segway tours available. Before venturing out, it’s a good idea to begin your visit with a stop at the Nature Center. The center is a living presentation of the many plants and animals innate to the Gulf Coast region.

With the Gulf of Mexico in front of you and Lake Shelby in the park’s interior, you expect the fishing to be awesome. And you would be right. The 592-acre Lake Shelby is the largest of the three lakes on property. Redfish, bream, speckled trout and catfish are the typical catch, but there are also bass lurking in those waters.

Surf fishing the Gulf of Mexico will always be popular, but it’s the pier where most of the action takes place. The typical fish caught are croaker, whiting, flounder, sheepshead, pompano, Spanish and king mackerel, blue fish, red fish and speckled trout. The pier is the second longest on the Gulf Coast and provides more than 2,400 feet of fishing space. The pier is wheelchair accessible with comfort stations at the pier’s midpoint. The Angler Academy on the pier is the place to learn the tips and tricks for pier fishing. Fishing equipment and bait are provided for these two hours of fun.

From kayaking to parasailing and every option in between there’s plenty to see, do and experience in Gulf State Park. Woodside Restaurant at Gulf State Park features a full lunch and dinner menu in a casual setting.

From the guest rooms, suites and restaurants, views of the beautiful beach and park await visitors to The Lodge at Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel. There are 350 rooms, which include 20 suites, providing a relaxing experience and comfortable base for your stay. Rooms with two queen-sized beds include a 50-inch television, spacious shower or bathtub, a balcony and a Hilton Serenity Bed designed for support and comfort. In addition to the comforts of a guest room, accessible rooms include audio/strobe alarms, doorbells and telephones, roll-in showers, or accessible bathtubs. The Lodge is group- friendly in all ways.

The dining options at The Lodge are plentiful. From a relaxing cup of coffee to innovative dishes, every palate will be satisfied. Perch is open for dinner and presents a full menu of locally sourced and freshly prepared entrees. In addition to a casual lunch and dinner menu, Foodcraft serves a la carte and a breakfast buffet and a brunch buffet on Saturday and Sunday. The Dragonfly Food Bar & Grill offers favorite poolside fare and thirst-quenching beverages. Roasted Oak Coffee & Wine Bar is located in The Lodge’s lobby and features special coffees and teas along with breakfast pastries and a light lunch menu. In the evening, the Roasted Oak transforms into a wine bar with selected wines, craft beers and a light menu.

There’s a pool and fitness center for your convenience along with a host of amenities to ensure your comfortable stay. The staff is multi-lingual and there’s a guest activity/ recreation desk and concierge desk available. The property is both ground zero for all that Gulf State Park offers but is ideal to hub & spoke the area. Visit the Gulf Shores community, shop Tanger Outlets, enjoy the Park at OWA and its 21-amusement rides, or have fun at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo with its 600 residents, a Zoological Association of America member.

For the complete article please see

Isbell wants Shoals fans to enjoy music festival in hometown
From the article by Russ Corey on

Jason Isbell said he remembers living in the Shoals and having to travel outside the area if he and his friends wanted to see a national touring rock band.

So about two years ago, he and his manager, Traci Thomas, began seriously kicking around the idea of bringing a full-fledged music festival to the Shoals, the type someone would normally have to travel to Birmingham, Nashville or Memphis, Tennessee, to enjoy.

“I thought it would be nice to drive into Florence to see someone play that normally plays places like Chicago or New York,” Isbell said.

And so was born ShoalsFest, the one-day music festival that will be held Saturday at McFarland Park.

The festival will feature performances by Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, Sheryl Crow, Mavis Staples and Amanda Shires, who is Isbell’s wife.

Also appearing on a second stage sponsored by Single Lock Records is Rob Aldridge and The Proponents, The Prescriptions, Caleb Elliott and The Kernal.

“I’ve built a relationship over the past couple of years with Sheryl Crow and Mavis Staples,” Isbell said. “I’ve played all of Mavis Staples’ birthday celebrations. It just so happened we got them early enough and they were free.”

He said Staples said she has not been back to the Shoals since The Staples Singers recorded at Muscle Shoals Sounds Studio in 1972.

The location, McFarland Park on the Tennessee River, is “perfect,” Isbell said of the event. He should know since he’s played on stages by the river during the annual Fourth of July celebration.

Isbell said the process so far hasn’t been all that difficult. They’re working with a promoter they’re comfortable with. They have secured many sponsors quickly and easily. The one big challenge with an outdoor festival, he said, is always the weather.

“It’s the only worry when you do something like this,” Isbell said. “Everybody has worked with us really well.”

The festival quickly sold out 5,000 general admission, general admission pit and VIP tickets.

“It was definitely a surprise to me when (ShoalsFest) sold out so quickly,” Isbell said.

He said he modeled ShoalsFest after his favorite music festival, the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island.

“The Newport Folk Festival is the model we went for,” Isbell said. “Newport is isolated. There’s one way in and one way out. They never oversell the festival.”

That atmosphere allows fans to be comfortable and pay attention to the musicians, he said.

Since he’s performed with Crow and Staples, Isbell said fans can expect some sit-ins during the sets by other artists. The festival website promises “full sets” by all the main artists.

Festival organizers recently added a separate Friday show at the Shoals Theatre, “Jason Isbell and Friends,” which Isbell described as he and The 400 Unit performing Muscle Shoals music with local musicians.

The show is being curated by 400 Unit bassist Jimbo Hart and drummer Chad Gamble.

“We’ll have a bunch of folks from all different age groups coming in to cover old Muscle Shoals songs, some who played on the originals,” Isbell said.

Gamble is excited about the show. He said it will probably resemble the times he, Hart and Isbell used to play at La Fonda Mexicana.

“We wanted to get together with some of the folks that mentored and inspired us as young musicians, along with some newer talent that the area has produced to pay homage to songs recorded here,” Gamble said.|

That show is also sold out.

“It’s going to be a hoot,” Hart said. “Though we couldn’t possibly get all of the musicians in the Shoals involved in one show, we feel like we’ve lined up some of the best around. It’s really going to be a really great night of music.”

Tickets remain for “A Jason Isbell Fans Tour of the Shoals,” which will take fans on a three-hour tour of area landmarks referenced in many of Isbell’s songs, going back to his days with the Drive-By Truckers. Tickets for the tour are $100.

“We discovered that a lot of Jason’s fans were curious about the people/places that inspired so many songs about his hometown,” tour organizer Judy Hood said. “People who are not from the Shoals area wanted to get a first-hand feel for Jason’s inspirations. So we’re going to integrate his lyrics into a tour that will include stops at the Decoration Day cemetery, Parker’s Place, Kendale Gardens, Super 8 Motel and other points of interest.”

The tour includes a stop at Roger’s High School, where Jason’s former band director will talk about some of Isbell’s high school music experiences.

“Jason’s management team has designed a very cool map with key spots on it for us to give to tour participants,” Hood said.

The Rogers High School Pirates Band will be marching and performing in McFarland Park on the day of the festival.

“Jason is an unwavering ambassador for the Muscle Shoals music scene,” said Hood, a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Board of Directors. “He loves to give shout-outs to the Swampers and other legendary musicians here who were early influences for him. And now Jason is a hero and an inspiration to the next generation of young people with musical aspirations. People like Jason help us keep this dream alive.”

Isbell said when he was younger, he spent a lot of time around Hood’s husband, Swampers bassist David Hood, asking “tons of questions” about the music business.

“David’s advice was more life advice, like always be on time, be the first person to get to the studio, make sure all your equipment works,” Isbell said.

If a musician can do that, Hood told him he’d be 80 percent ahead of everyone else.

“It comes down to honoring your word,” Isbell said. “I’ll be happy to tell anyone anything I’ve learned from those guys and from my own struggles.”

Isbell said they still have to get through the inaugural event, but the team is already looking toward 2020.

“If this one goes off well and everything goes according to plan, we’re definitely planning on doing it again,” Isbell said.

For the complete article please see

UK Music Festival promotes Alabama trip to their fans
Working with the Alabama Tourism Department and an Alabama receptive tour company, the Maverick Festival in Suffolk, England is promoting to their fans a music trip to America. The Maverick Festival, which promotes itself as the “UK’s first and finest Americana music festival,” centers their first ever suggested trip in and around Alabama.

In an email to their fan base, festival organizer Paul Spencer states “The Yellowhammer State of Alabama has produced many of America’s most revered and influential musicians including W.C. Handy (“Father of the Blues”), Jimmie Rodgers (“The Father of Country Music”) and Hank Williams (“The King of Country”). It’s also home to legendary FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, frequented by everyone from Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, to Paul Simon and the Rolling Stones.”

Spencer goes on explain the 10-day fly/drive tour was curated to offer an insider’s guide from Muscle Shoals to the Gulf Coast.

The email has a link to book the tour with Bon Voyage, a specialist tour company in the United Kingdom.

The trip’s starting price is $2,094 per person and includes
• Flights from UK to Atlanta, nine nights of accommodation & car hire with full insurance
• Road book with driving instructions and things to see and do en route
• Alabama Blues Project experience or similar in Tuscaloosa
• Admission to the Elvis Presley Birthplace in Tupelo
• Admission to the Tupelo Automobile Museum
• Admission to FAME Studio Tour in Muscle Shoals
• Admission to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield
• Admission to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame
• Admission to the W.C Handy Birthplace Museum in Florence
• Visit to Rattlesnake Saloon near Tuscumbia with card for $25 in food & drink
• Admission to Cypress Moon Studios
• Admission to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
• Admission to the Barber Motorsports Park and Museum near Birmingham

The itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Atlanta and drive to Opelika, Alabama
Day 2: Opelika to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach
Day 3: Gulf Shores & Orange Beach
Day 4: Gulf Shores to Meridian, Mississippi
Day 5: Meridian to Tuscaloosa
Day 6: Tuscaloosa & Tupelo to Florence
Day 7: Quad Cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield & Tuscumbia
Day 8: Florence to Birmingham, Alabama
Day 9: Birmingham
Day 10: Birmingham to Atlanta for your departure home

Helping Maverick Festival and Bon Voyage with the detailed music theme trip was Explore the South, an Alabama based company. John Key will be the contact at Explore the South for the tour. Spencer initiated the idea of a music themed trip after visiting with Grey Brennan, Alabama Tourism Department Deputy Director last year.

For more details on the fly drive go to

Post Office Pies listed as one of the top pizzerias in the country
From the article by Shauna Stuart on

Birmingham’s renowned Post Office Pies has made another “best of” list. USA Today has listed the Avondale restaurant as one of the top 30 pizzerias in the country.

Earlier this month, 24/7 Wall Street examined the “best” lists on a number of websites including Food & Wine, Eater, and Thrillist, as well as regional websites. The site found a number of restaurants listed repeatedly, and from that number, 24/7 Wall Street used rankings, reviews, and “editorial discretion” to narrow the list down to the 40 best pizza restaurants in the country.

This morning, USA Today published a shorter version of that list, naming 30 restaurants.

Helmed by Birmingham native chef John Hall, Post Office Pies opened in 2014 and is owned by the same management team that runs Saw’s Soul Kitchen. In 2015, a second location of Post Office Pies opened in Tuscaloosa.

Hall left Birmingham in 1999 and cooked in kitchens around the South, including later working for chef Frank Stitt. Over the years, Hall built an impressive culinary resume, cooking with Michelin-starred chefs and restaurants, such as Chef Léa Linster in Luxembourg and New York’s Per Se, Gramercy Tavern, and Momofuku Ssam.

After living in New York, Hall returned in Birmingham in 2013. Post Office Pies was inspired by his late-night stints making and delivering pizza out of his New York apartment. Made from fermented dough that takes 12 hours to rise (the same recipe that Hall used in New York), the wood fired pizzas at Post Office Pies are crafted with local ingredients, handmade mozzarella, and cooked in brick ovens.

Since returning to his native Birmingham, Hall has been an ambassador for the city. An evangelist for using local ingredients and teaching the city’s youth about food, he gave celebrity chef Carla Hall a tour of Jones Valley Teaching Farm. Carla Hall described the tour in her 2018 cookbook, “Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration,” writing that their conversation reminded her that it’s possible to get the next generation to love vegetables, and inspired her recipe for chunky tomato soup with okra.

Late last year, Carla Hall invited a group of chefs, including John Hall, to the James Beard house in New York to cook their interpretations of dishes inspired by her cookbook.

Hall has long spoken about his plans to open a second restaurant. In February, after some prodding from an audience member at the Southern Foodways Symposium, Hall shed some more light on his future culinary hopes, announcing that he has been working on securing a building for his “new venture.”

For the complete article please see

Alabama’s Rattlesnake Saloon is a restaurant with a truly cavernous dining room
From the article by Susan Swagler on

The Rattlesnake Saloon, in a cavern under an enormous rock bluff in north Alabama, has been called one of the most unusual restaurants in the United States. The Duke Burger at this cave café is on the list of “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.” If you haven’t yet been there and eaten that, thousands of people from around the world have already beaten you to it. The guest books show visitors from all 50 states and more than 30 countries.

The restaurant is only part of what the Foster family has built on their thousands of acres of beautiful forested land with miles of trails, stunning views, places to fish and several ancient Native American shelters, one of which houses a burial place dating back 8,000 years.

The Seven Springs Lodge came first. For years, Danny Foster worked this land, which has been in his family since 1916, before creating the lodge. It’s undergoing renovations after a fire this past summer, but soon you’ll be able to spend the night in repurposed grain silos or comfortably rustic cabins. Camping is still available, and there are stalls for horses, too.

People come here to hike, hunt, camp, craft, attend concerts, and ride four-wheelers, side-by-side vehicles, ATVs, dirt bikes and horses on the woodland trails. Schoolchildren show up for nature adventures and motorcycle enthusiasts gather for bike rallies. SHiFT Design (a community of builders, makers, designers and creators) has a summer camp here. Resident artists Gabriel and Robin Sellers carve and paint one-of-a-kind wood and stone sculptures. This also is a place for racking horse races, frontier days with chuck wagon races, bonfires, rodeos with bull riding and simply sitting on a porch.

Danny and his younger son, William, realized that every lodge needs a saloon, and the cavern was the perfect place. During construction, workers found a nest of rattlesnakes under a piece of tin, and the place got a name.

The Sidewinder’s Trading Post was the final element of this family enterprise. Danny’s wife, Momma Faye, runs this (sometimes with her beloved granddaughter, Willow, nearby), and her genuine hospitality is as much of a draw as the camping supplies, souvenirs, tack, postcards, handcrafted jewelry and unique T-shirts.

The popularity of all this, and perhaps the restaurant in particular, comes down to “curiosity,” says Danny. “They always say, ‘If you build something unusual …’ and another thing, we make it hard to get to.” (The restaurant is open three days a week seasonally.) He says, “If it’s easy, people will put it off. You only have certain hours, so people have to make arrangements to get to it; it’s a challenge. … They have to be deliberate about it.

“It really, really took off,” he says of the restaurant, “more than I expected.” He, Momma Faye and William ran the restaurant at the beginning; now William employs 20 people.

“On a Saturday, usually, we’ll have a couple thousand come through here,” Danny says. “We don’t count until 5 to 10 (p.m.), and a lot of times we’ll have seven or eight hundred down there. So, there will be easily 2,000 on a Saturday.”

“It’s one of the most unusual places you’ll ever see,” Momma Faye says. “We close down in December and January because it’s so cold and we have icicles; they can get up to 18 feet. But everybody enjoys it, and it’s a family-orientated thing. We don’t serve any alcohol … until after five o’clock, and it’s just a nice place to come. We have a lot of schools to come, a lot of churches to come. And the food’s good, too.”

It’s a destination worth the trip.

The cavern that houses Rattlesnake Saloon was a hog pen several decades ago. Today, an air-conditioned kitchen, bar and dining room is built right alongside the rock walls. This is an atmosphere like none other, with swinging saloon doors, antlers, a pressed-tin ceiling, chandeliers and some shockingly large rattlesnake skins (we counted eight that are stretched down rough-hewn columns in the middle of the dining area). There’s a stuffed rattler and an unfortunate rabbit in a dramatic Southern woodland diorama. The bar is colorful, with beer taps and a wall of cans on display. But to really experience Rattlesnake Saloon, you’ll want to eat outside at one of dozens of tables in the cavern, which is cool even in the summer. It is decorated with neon beer signs and offers a nice view of the woods and the small stage where, at night, there’s karaoke on Thursdays and live music on Fridays and Saturdays.

The saloon is accessible via “taxi.” You ride down and back up a steep hill in the back of an extended cab pickup truck. That taxi runs pretty much constantly, so you can come and go as you please. Of course, you can ride your horse to the saloon, too, if you brought one.

Momma Faye says she knows Rattlesnake Saloon has fans everywhere because she’s seen her T-shirts all over the world. “It’s nothing to see them in the Bahamas … and Cancun,” she says. “But we went to Wales with my son on a teaching trip, and we were walking down the street … and there were two people with our rattlesnake T-shirts on … in Wales!”

It’s not unusual for people from all over the world to gather at Rattlesnake Saloon on any given day or night. “We have them from everywhere,” Danny says. “One night, a group out of Australia was down there. Thirty something people. My son, William, says, ‘Oh, are you with this bunch here?’ The lady looked at him and said, ‘We’re from Australia!’ He said, ‘They are, too.’ They lived 30 minutes apart,” Danny says. “They were neighbors and met here. It’s not unusual to have four or five continents down here at one time.”

They come for a fun, themed menu that starts with “skunk rings” (good, crispy and sweet onion rings), “cowboy buttons” (fried mushrooms) and “snake eyes & tails” (fried jalapeno slices and green beans that are a must-have). Chicken wings, meaty and glazed with your choice of mild, barbecue or hot sauce, are delicious and popular. Entrees include “prairie fingers” (chicken tenders regionally sourced from Albertville); a salad with ham, turkey or grilled or fried chicken atop fresh greens with tomato, cheese, onion, pickle and your choice of dressing; and a hot dog made with smoked sausage and tangy onion sauerkraut. You also can get a vegetarian burger. There’s a $6 kids menu with grilled cheese, corndog, ham and cheese sandwich or prairie fingers. Desserts include fried apple fritters, brownies or the popular deep-fried cheesecake.

That Duke Burger ($11) is the most popular item, though. This award-winning hamburger features a thick, half-pound Black Angus patty topped with apple wood-smoked bacon and fried snake eyes (again, jalapeno slices) and served on an onion roll.

Then there’s the Gigantor. This is a 2-pound hamburger on a huge bun with all the fixings served with a pound of fries, a half-pound of onion rings and a pitcher of your beverage of choice. The $50 meal is enough for four people, but if one person finishes it within 45 minutes, it is free. Three people have done this; one did it twice.

Since Rattlesnake Saloon opened in 2009, busloads of people visited for lunch and dinner on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, making it a popular tourist draw for remote Colbert County. But in 2015, when Food Network featured the place on “Craziest Restaurants in America,” Rattlesnake Saloon really took off.

The Saturday after the show aired, Momma Faye says, “We had 4,500 people here. Then we quit counting.”

The place is special, she says, because of the landscape. “But the other special thing about this place is the people who come.”

Momma Faye talks about hosting children who are blind and deaf and watching them experience nature in their own ways. She talks about the design-based adventure-learning opportunities led by her older son, Owen. (He is a professor of industrial design, and, each summer, his SHiFT Design Camp draws high school and college students from all over the world.) She talks about a young man from China who learned to drive in Danny’s truck.

“We have some of the best people in the world to come,” she says.

For the complete article please see

Public can see legendary cars in Alexander City
Every five years the Aero Warriors gather to celebrate and commemorate the most unusual automobiles ever produced and sold by United States automakers, and the public is invited to come on Oct. 12 to see an incredible collection of these cars assembled in Alexander City.

The Oct. 12 opportunity for the public to wander through Alexander City to see these cars is part of a four-day event that will welcome all models of autos that represent the 1970 Nascar Era. Aero automobiles include: 1969 Dodge Charger 500, 1969 Dodge Daytona, 1970 Plymouth Superbird, Ford Talladega and Mercury Spoiler II.

Once again Wellborn Musclecar Museum, 124 Broad St. in downtown Alexander City, has been chosen as the host of the event.

This year’s sold-out reunion event on Oct. 10 is special because it commemorates both the 50th anniversary of the debut of the Aero Warrior automobiles and the 50th anniversary of the Talladega Super Speedway. Tim and Pam Wellborn have put together an impressive line-up of Aero Warrior VIPs, owners and enthusiast.

After the sold-out, private event for Aero Warrior participants, everyone can see this huge gathering of legendary cars for themselves by wandering through downtown Alexander City on Saturday. This is also a chance for the public to spend the day mingling with some of the most legendary names in Aero Warrior history.

Sunday the Aero Warrior participants will rev things up in a big way. Everyone will convoy their Aero Warrior cars from Alexander City to the Talladega Super Speedway to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the track and attend the annual Talladega 500 race.

For more information log on to

25 most popular specialty license plates in Alabama
From the article by Leada Gore on

When it comes to specialty license plates in Alabama, nobody tops the Tide.

The University of Alabama’s tag – complete with the signature crimson color and a script “A” – is the best-selling specialty plate in the state. According to the Alabama Department of Revenue’s most-recent figures, there are 109,864 UA tags in the state, the only specialty plate to top the 100,000 mark.

Here’s the top 25 selling specialty plates in Alabama (list does not include tags that are only available to qualified individuals, such as tags for disabled veterans or firefighters; or tags such as the “God Bless America” tag that only require a fee if personalized.)

1. University of Alabama – 109,864
2. Alabama Bicentennial – 73,437
3. Auburn University – 72,392
4. Helping Schools – 66,526
5. Alabama Wildlife Federation – 20,945
6. Fight Breast Cancer – 17,055
7. Barber Motorsports Museum – 13,651
8. Breast Cancer Research – 12,517
9. Troy University – 10,660
10. Environmental – 8,235
11. Farming Feeds/AG tag – 6,449
12. Curing Childhood Cancer – 5,787
13. Choose Life/Support Adoption – 5,572
14. Alabama Nurses Foundation – 5,091
15. Alabama State University – 5,084
16. Alabama A&M University – 4,539
17. Spay/Neuter – 4,289
18. Alabama Ducks Unlimited – 4,256
19. Alabama Forests – 4,080
20. National Wild Turkey Federation – 4,024
21. Jacksonville State University – 3,666
22. Save the Saturn V – 3,663
23. Saltwater Fishing – 3,553
24. Autism Awareness – 3446
25. UAB – 3,191

For the complete article please see

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 color 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. 2-5, which celebrates German culture with authentic food, costumes, and music. The Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention on Oct. 3-5 will have 18 different categories of live music competitions and more than 150 area craftsmen displaying their arts on the campus of Athens State University. The Barber Vintage Festival at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham on Oct. 4-6 features hundreds of vintage motorcycles. The National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores on Oct. 12-13 features fresh gulf seafood, live music and arts and crafts. The Kentuck Festival of the Arts on Oct. 12-13 in Northport features more than 270 artists and craftspeople. The city of Mentone celebrates its annual Colorfest on Oct. 19-20 with a weekend of arts & crafts, family activities and live entertainment.

The Oyster Cook-Off and Craft Beer Weekend on Nov. 1-2 at The Hangout in Gulf Shores features all-star chefs and live entertainment. The National Peanut Festival in Dothan on Nov. 1-10 is the nation’s largest peanut festival. Alabama Frontier Days in Wetumpka on Nov. 6-9 will have re-enactments from French Colonial times to the Early American period.

Jones takes new role with the Alabama Film Office
Alabama Tourism Department staff member Brian Jones has taken a new position with the Alabama Film Office. Jones has worked in the public relations department since 2001 and coordinated several of state tourism’s award-winning yearlong campaigns. Included in his new role will be working with other state agencies and local tourism offices to match potential productions with film locations in the state.

“My job with the film office will allow me to continue working with many of the same local tourism people I have worked with for years,” Jones said. “I will just change from helping them promote their area to travel writers to helping them promote their area to the film industry. The same beauty and geographic diversity that makes Alabama a great tourism destination also makes the state an excellent choice for filming.”

Last year was a record year for film in the state with 147 productions, generating $63.5 million in expenditures.

Jones can be contacted at the film office at Rick Harmon with state tourism will be handling media requests beginning this week and can be reached

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
Have you heard about Alabama Tourism’s new promotion: Photo Challenge? Encourage visitors to post photos of their experience using #SweetHomeAlabama and their sensory hashtag of choice to enter to win a return trip to Alabama. It will not only raise awareness of the state but also motivate others to visit your establishment.

To read more about the promotion, visit


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: The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to:

To subscribe to the newsletter please contact Dwayne O’Riley at:

Alabama Tourism Department