Tourism Tuesdays Oct. 15, 2019

ATD’s 2019 Fall tourism workshop scheduled for tomorrow

NPS taps Kristofer Butcher to head Birmingham Civil Rights, Freedom Riders National
Florence/Lauderdale Tourism seeing success in digital marketing campaign

Scottsboro Boys to get museum in Decatur

Swampers studio musician guests on new Sheryl Crow album

Hunters again will target the ‘sirloin of the sky.’

Brook Ladner featured in Hotel Management’s national 30 under 30 list

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


ATD’s 2019 Fall tourism workshop set for tomorrow
The Alabama Tourism Department will host its semi-annual Tourism Workshop, Wednesday, 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 

NPS Taps Kristofer Butcher to head Birmingham Civil Rights, Freedom Riders National Monuments
Today, National Park Service (NPS) Atlanta-based Regional Director Bob Vogel announced the selection of Kristofer “Kris” Butcher as superintendent of Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and Freedom Riders National Monument in Alabama, effective Oct. 27.

“Kris’ background in business administration and economic development will be essential to standing up operations at two of the nation’s newest national parks,” said Vogel. “His record reflects eager, yet thoughtful leadership. Kris is well-equipped to take on the responsibility of administering Birmingham Civil Rights and Freedom Riders National Monuments as their first permanent superintendent.”

Butcher said, “Many of my earliest memories are of stories my great uncle told me about his life and the people he met during the civil rights movement. His stories chronicled the struggle for equality and profoundly impacted me. I am humbled to now have the opportunity to partner with the city leaders and communities of Anniston and Birmingham in preserving their stories for future generations.”

For the past two years, Butcher has served as the chief of business management for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Maryland where he has overseen a budget of more than $45 million, partnerships and administrative functions. He also recently served temporarily as acting regional comptroller in the NPS’ National Capital Area, providing financial and administrative services to 14 national park units.

He began his federal career with the U.S. Postal Service in 2004 before transitioning to the U.S. Forest Service’s Wayne National Forest where he was a resource specialist, program assistant, and administrative clerk. He later worked with the Small Business Administration’s Eastern Pennsylvania District as an economic development specialist and administrative officer. Butcher graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. He is married to Brittany, a physical therapist assistant. They have one child, Kylie, and love traveling and watching movies.

Florence/Lauderdale Tourism seeing success in digital marketing campaign
From the article by Kendyl Hollingsworth on

Florence/Lauderdale Tourism officials discussed their expanding focus of the Shoals region at their regular meeting Thursday, laying out the benefits of promoting the entire quad-city area as opposed to a narrower focus on the city of Florence.

The organization amped up its digital marketing efforts with the recent rollout of a new website, a project that has been in the works for the past couple years.

Wayne Emerson, of Advance Travel and Tourism, the Birmingham-based partner in the digital marketing campaign, returned to present a third-quarter report that highlighted the new website’s success.

Emerson presented several statistics showing the website’s success in driving up new visitors and increasing engagement.

“Our campaign objective was all about driving that awareness of Florence and the Shoals area in key markets throughout the Southeast,” he said.

Those markets include people in and around Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and Memphis.

Emerson highlighted increased – and above-average – growth rates of text ad responses, users, sessions and overall site traffic.

“Phenomenal growth there,” he said. “It’s doing exactly what we want it to do – getting that message out there, and the word out about Florence and the Shoals.”

The new website shows a new logo featuring “The Shoals” in golden letters, with each of the four major cities listed below. The new design also incorporates more vibrant imagery and an updated event calendar, as well as more digital and copy content.

“I’ve heard nothing but positive comments about (the expanded focus) from the community and from people who’ve told me they really think that’s the way to go,” said Tourism Board Chairman Larry McCoy.

Tourism president, Rob Carnegie, said articles from state and national media have attracted more attention because of events like the Shindig and ShoalsFest. Carnegie and other tourism employees have traveled to various events recently, such as Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee, to promote the Shoals area.

Carnegie said Florence/Lauderdale Tourism’s 2020 budget is “getting close to completion.”

“We still have a lot of work to do in relationship to how we’re changing our strategy a little bit to focus more on events and tournaments,” he said. “We’ll be meeting with the finance committee over that and sort of fine-tuning that process.”

For the complete article please see

Scottsboro Boys to get museum in Decatur
From the article by Paul Gattis on

Almost 100 years since being wrongly accused of rape, the nine African Americans known as the “Scottsboro Boys” will be honored in new museum in Decatur.

The Celebrating Early Old Town with Art board (CEOTA) said in an announcement Monday that it would formally unveil plans for the museum at its annual gala in Decatur.

“The multi-million development will be Decatur’s newest and boldest step forward in civil rights history and recognition,” CEOTA said in the announcement. “The primary goal of the museum is to house, display and demonstrate the CEOTA collection and to depict Decatur’s role in the historic trial of the Scottsboro Boys, reflecting the civil rights struggles and victories during that era.”

The nine males, ages 13 to 20, were accused of raping two white women on a train in 1931. Eight of the nine were convicted. The males were first tried and convicted in Scottsboro – verdicts that were eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The jury in the 1933 retrial in Decatur for one of the Scottsboro boys, Haywood Patterson, was overturned by the presiding judge, James Edwin Horton.

In 2013, Gov. Robert Bentley signed legislation exonerating the Scottsboro Boys.

“The story of the Scottsboro Boys lives on through the efforts of artists, historians and scholars,” CEOTA said in its announcement. “This commitment is what feeds CEOTA’s passion to perpetuate the awareness of the story.”

Thom Gossom Jr., a former Auburn University and NFL player who went on to a career in acting and as an author, will be the guest speaker at the Nov. 14 CEOTA gala at Ingalls Pavilion in Decatur. The invitation-only event begins with a reception from 5-6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the presentation.

For the complete article please see

Swampers studio musician guests on new Sheryl Crow album
From the article by Matt Wake on

At age 76, David Hood remains an ace-card studio-musician.

Most recently, The Swampers bassist and Muscle Shoals music icon appears on two tracks from Sheryl Crow’s new album, “Threads.”

Hood’s playing can be heard on the songs “Border Lord” and “Still the Good Old Days.”

Crow is a nine-time Grammy winner who rose to fame in the ’90s combining classic-rock roots and now-pop hooks on songs like “All I Wanna Do,” “My Favorite Mistake” and “If It Makes You Happy.”

“Threads” is Crow’s 11th studio LP. It peaked at number 30 on the Billboard 200 Chart.

Released Aug. 30, the album is stocked with collaboration with legendary artists the Missouri native admires, such as Eric Clapton, Stevie Nicks, Chuck D and Keith Richards, as well as contemporary stars, like Chris Stapleton, St. Vincent and Gary Clark, Jr.

The guest stars on “Border Lord” and “Still the Good Old Days,” the tracks Hood plays bass on, are songsmith Kris Kristofferson and Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh.

“Border Lord” is a snaky folk-rock song.

At 57, Crow’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame destined vocals remain graceful, soulful and ageless. That makes for an interesting juxtaposition with Kristofferson’s truly ancient sounding yet ultimately charming voice.

Hoods bass helps the track roll and flow.

The tone is thick yet melds right into the song’s canvas.

In other words, classic David Hood.

“Still the Good Old Days” was released as a single in advance of the “Threads” album and it’s easy to see why. The track shimmies with a Southern-rock sound, Crow’s soaring singing and Walsh’s bronzish slide-guitar and inimitable reedy vocals. A clever bridge gives Hood a chance to step out with hotfoot lines that echo his bass on Staple Singers’ 1972 LP “Be Altitude: Respect Yourself,” a soul-music essential. Hood’s discography is also packed with classic tracks by the likes of Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Bob Seger and many other music legends.

Steve Jordan, best known for being Keith Richards’ longtime solo band drummer and collaborator, produced “Border Lord” and “Still the Good Old Days” as well as most of the “Threads” album. Crow and Walsh cowrote the latter song.

There are additional Alabama connections on “Threads.” Late, great Shoals songwriter Donnie Fritts is one of the cowriters for “Border Lord,” along with Kristofferson, Stephen Bruton and Terry Paul.

Birmingham native and folk-music star Emmylou Harris duets with Crow on the blues ballad “Nobody’s Perfect.”

And former Muscle Shoals resident Jason Isbell, the Grammy-winning songwriter of the moment, contributes vocals and lead guitar on a cover of 1989 Bob Dylan tune “Everything’s Broken.”

Crow and Staple Singers vocalist Mavis Staples, who guests on “Threads” cut “Live Wire,” were among the headliners as Isbell’s ShoalsFest concert, which debuted in Florence to a sold-out crowd Oct. 5.

“Threads” is Crow’s first album for Big Machine Records, the Nashville imprint best known for releasing superstar Taylor Swift’s first six albums, through 2017′s “Reputation.” This summer, Big Machine became embroiled in controversy after Swift publicly voiced her frustration with being unable to purchase her masters from the label.

For the complete article please see

Hunters again will target the ‘sirloin of the sky.’
From the article by Shanna Lewis on

For the first time in 103 years, hunters will have a chance to bag a sandhill crane in Alabama. More than 15,000 of the long-legged gray birds migrate through northern Alabama each winter, stopping to rest and feed in wetlands, lakes, and agricultural fields. On Oct. 2, some 600 residents entered a drawing to win one of 400 sandhill crane hunting permits.

At the turn of the 20th century, sandhill cranes had been nearly wiped out by hunters. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, however, led to a hunting ban, which gave them a chance to recover. Today, the North American population has rebounded to more than 600,000, and Alabama joins 15 other states that already allow hunting. (New Mexico was the first state to re-establish a sandhill crane hunting season, in 1961.)

Seth Maddox, the migratory game bird coordinator for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, says hunters have been asking for a sandhill crane season because they’d been seeing more of the birds, which have increased by about 16 percent annually since 2010. He says they’ve kept the number of permits limited so the hunt won’t affect their numbers.

Not everyone’s excited, however. Thousands of bird watchers flock to northern Alabama each year to see the migration spectacle during the annual Festival of the Cranes. Held mid-January at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, the festival is a chance to see the sandhill cranes up close and attend nature walks, educational talks, and arts events.

Some of those bird lovers are worried about the new sandhill crane hunting season—especially the possibility that a hunter could accidentally shoot one of the endangered whooping cranes sometimes seen among the more common sandhills.

“We are very protective of those whooping cranes,” says Mary Lee Ratliff, president of the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Association, a nonprofit dedicated to conservation at the site. “They all have names, and they are banded, and we track them. We can’t even have one possibly get hurt.”

Experiencing Alabama’s sandhill crane migration
Sandhill cranes, which are gray with red foreheads, can grow up to five feet tall and have a six-foot wingspan. Their energetic courtship dances include leaping, bowing, and wing flapping. The birds mate for life, which can be some 20 years, and raise one or two chicks each year.

Ansel Payne, executive director of Birmingham Audubon, the local chapter of the National Audubon Society, says part of the charm of sandhill cranes is seeing and hearing thousands of them during the migration in northern Alabama. “There’s just something really beautiful about being in a space that feels like it’s filled up with birds,” he says.

Birmingham Audubon trusts the state will “keep the sandhill population at a healthy level, while also doing everything they can to ensure the safety of our state’s endangered whooping cranes,” Payne says.

Close monitoring
Although Maddox notes there have been no incidents of whooping cranes being mistakenly shot during the history of Tennessee’s and Kentucky’s sandhill crane hunts, Alabama isn’t taking any chances. Those selected from the drawing to get a license must complete an online test proving they can correctly identify a sandhill crane. Maddox says great blue herons are similar in coloring and stature to sandhills—much more so than whooping cranes, which are white.

Alabama hasn’t opened a hunting season on a new species since the alligator hunt in 2006. People such as lifelong hunter and veterinarian Gregg Able are excited about the chance to hunt sandhill cranes. He previously hunted them in Texas and says they’re magnificent birds and challenging to hunt.

“It’s a total experience to get out and to try to bag one,” he says. “They are very vocal with a distinctive and extremely loud call, and they are very wary.” He’s also eager to taste crane, as they’re often known as “ribeye of the sky” or “flying sirloin.”

To allow the state to track the results of the hunt, license holders are required to complete an online survey, regardless of whether they shot a crane or even hunted.

Maddox says the typical success rate for these hunts is about 32 percent. The hunting season will run Dec. 3 through Jan. 31, with an almost two-week long break in the middle for the January Festival of Cranes.

For the complete article please see

Brook Ladner featured in Hotel Management’s national 30 under 30 list
Brook Ladner, Assistant Director of Food & Beverage for The Hotel at Auburn University, has been named to Hotel Management’s 30 Under 30 list.

The award recognizes emerging leaders in the hospitality industry who have been nominated by their property. Hotel Management then selects the “rising stars” based on pre-determined criteria. In 2019, the publication received hundreds of nominations, but only 30 were selected.

“Brook exemplifies the phrase ‘servant leadership’ throughout all of her interactions,” says Adam Keeshan, Director of Food & Beverage for The Hotel. “She is extremely well respected by her team and is a valued team member at The Hotel. This award is well deserved, and we are so proud of her!”

Ladner has been with The Hotel at Auburn University since 2012, serving in roles including banquet server, banquet captain, Assistant Banquet Manager and Banquet Manager before being promoted to Assistant Director of Food & Beverage earlier this month. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, as well as her Master of Science in Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Management, both through Auburn University.

“I am so proud, but humbled, to be recognized as one of Hotel Management’s 30 under 30 rising stars of the industry,” Ladner said. “I am fortunate to be supported by such talented mentors who push me to continue learning and growing while working to create opportunities for me. I am happy to be part of such an amazing team that truly makes coming into work something that I look forward to everyday. It is my hope to continue to share my passion with others, and I am excited to see what the future holds!”

“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. Entry period ends Friday, Oct. 18.

To read more about the promotion, visit



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