2014-06-06_14-25-54This summer we are all about the great outdoors! We are biking, grilling, horseback riding, singing, growing and just plain having fun!

We start June off supporting a great cause. Take out your bike, get ready to absorb our beautiful scenic country side, and help others for the Bike MS: North Alabama fundraiser. On June 7th, take the 89-mile route of the Noah Bike Trail to raise money and awareness for research and support programs for those living in Alabama and Mississippi with MS.

2014-06-06_14-26-32For those who prefer to get their enjoyment by walking, the Friends of the Athens-Limestone County Public Library will encourage us all to grow beautiful flowers and plants when you take their Spring Garden Tours on June 7th. The tour will feature traditional gardens in downtown Athens, three church prayer gardens, a country garden, and four 21st Century landscaped gardens. After the tour, you may want to enjoy the Saturday Farmers Market located at 409 Green Street or talk with car enthusiasts at Athens Cruise-In on the Square. Later in the day, come out for the Gospel Talent Explosion at the Limestone County Event Center on 114 West Pryor Street Athens, AL. Come enjoy the music as area gospel acts come together to compete from 5PM to 7PM.

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The beautiful cool June nights are the perfect setting to enjoy Singing on the Square in Downtown Athens. We will have our hometown favorite entertainer, Matt Prater, from 6PM-8PM on June 20th. On July 18th, Miss Anna Catherine DeHart from Missouri who currently is attending Belmont College in Nashville, will entertain us with some Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, in addition to modern Country stars like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. The final series in the free concerts will come from Athens State University Community Band on August 15th.

The 6th Annual Ardmore Tractor/Truck Pull begins at 7PM on June 20th at John Barnes Park in Ardmore, TN. If the tractors get too loud, there is always food! The Elkmont Lions Club Smokin’ Railroad Street Barbeque Cook-Off in Downtown Elkmont is being held on Jun 20th-21st. Contact Larry or Susan Pylant for more information at 256-732-4493, or visit the www.elkmontlionsclub.com.

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Here is the fun the kids have been waiting for since last year: the Athens Lions Club Kiddie Carnival at 309 East Forrest Street in Athens. June 26th–August 2nd the kids can come out Thursday-Saturday and enjoy the carnival from 6:30PM-9:30PM. Enjoy the rides for kids along with great concessions and bingo! The rides for young children are small ferris wheel, rocket ships, small swings, carousel, train, roller coaster, parachutes, large swings and the scrambler. For safety and maintenance reasons, no adult riders are permitted on any of the rides. Concessions available include hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, French fries and sodas. Also available are crowd pleasers like cotton candy, dippin dots and funnel cakes.

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If you need information about these or other events and attractions in Athens-Limestone County, visit the Athens Visitors Center located at 100 North Beaty Street or call 256-232-5411. Information is also posted on our websites – www.VisitAthensAL.com.
By: Teresa Todd, President, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association, Inc.

2014-05-02_14-59-46Any time is a great time to visit Alabama. North Alabama appreciates a year-round tourist season due to its four distinct seasons and mild winters. Rich in outdoor tourism such as camping, boating, fishing and hunting, Athens also boasts 32 miles of canoe and kayak trails, 89 miles of bike and motorcycling trails and many walking trails.

The popular ‘Richard Martin Rails to Trails,’ which travels over a 10-mile stretch from Piney Chapel to Veto, allows hiking, biking and horseback riding. The Rails to Trails also has a historic value preserved by the efforts of Martin. The ‘Battle of Sulphur Creek Trussell’ was fought on September 25, 1864. After defeating the Union forces in Athens, Nathan Bedford Forrest moved north along the railroad with the intent to destroy the strategic trestle at Sulphur Creek, located six miles north of Athens.

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Athens also enjoys cultural attractions such as the expanding Alabama Veteran’s Museum & Archives. Soon the Trinity Museum will be underway to provide the Limestone County history from antebellum times through the Trinity School years.

2014-05-02_15-00-20There is no shortage of sports activities in Limestone County. We have 8 fields for baseball & softball, soccer fields, golf courses, tennis courts, a disk golf field, basketball & volleyball courts, an archery field and swimming pools. This year Athens Parks & Recreation was awarded the opportunity to host the 2014 ARPA State Softball Tournament. An estimated 35 teams will be hosted at the Athens Sportsplex July 11-13, 2014.

Being in an agriculture area, Limestone County relishes the large number of equines and equestrian events. Horses of every breed are found in this area, which allows for year round riding and competitions.

2014-05-02_15-00-13May 10th will begin our first rodeo event for the year. The Limestone County Sheriff’s Rodeo is in its 32nd year. The Sheriff’s Rodeo is a weeklong event beginning with the traditional Rodeo Parade route around the downtown square. Merchants welcome the annual rodeo with special decorations to make the out of town visitors feel at home. The Rodeo Street Dance and Western Fashion Show begin at 6 PM on May 13th at the downtown square, with Jeff Whitlow & the Old Barn Band performing. The Rodeo will be held at the Sheriff’s arena on May 16th and 17th; gates open at 6 PM. The crowning of the Miss Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo Queen will be held Saturday May 17th at the rodeo arena.

May 16th & 17th Athens will be host to the Sons of Confederate Veterans Alabama Division Reunion held at Athens State University. The SCV reunion will bring close to 200 members and their spouses to Limestone County for the weekend. They will tour Elkmont’s Belle Chevre Creamery and visit Belle Chevre’s Tasting Room. They will also have the opportunity to visit the Paper Trail Antique Shop, Kindred Spirits, the Elkmont Depot and The Red Caboose.

Tourism Month will conclude on May 30th with a celebration at the Ardmore Welcome Center. Alabama’s tourism industry partners participate in the salute to our southbound visitors traveling through our state as they stop off at the Ardmore Welcome Center during the day of celebration. The tourism partners promote their attractions and hotels with discounted offers, their restaurants with food samples and coupons and their destinations with promotional items. We will have entertainment, free cake and soft drinks, ice cream and a whole lot of fun!

Don’t be left out; come by the Athens-Limestone County Tourism Office & Visitor Center to learn more about the many activities we have to offer this summer.

For more information on events, outdoor activities, restaurants, hotels and attractions go to www.VisitAthensAL.com or call 256-232-5411.
By: Teresa Todd, President, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association
100 Beaty Street, Athens, Al 35611

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The Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association in conjunction with the State of Alabama Tourism Department has designated the month of April as “Historical Walking Tours” month. Athens and Mooresville of Limestone County are 2 of thirty-three communities participating in this state promoted activity. All participating communities conduct the tours on each Saturday in April from 10AM to11AM.

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Athens had their largest number of people participating in their tours this past Saturday, April 12th. Teresa Todd, president of the Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association said, “We had a total of 50 guests. It was so impressive to see families coming in to register for our historical tours. It just shows how much interest there is in our past and how it relates to our future and generations. People of all ages were signing up with one of our guides; when they returned, they were all agreeing to come back next week for one of the other tours. ”

Mr. Bill Ward of Athens is the guide for the Historical Beaty District tour. He led 26 people on his walk down Beaty, Washington and East Streets. He paused at one of our residents’ homes, Ms. Mary Nell Clem, who invited his guests in for lemonade during the early morning tour. Mr. Ward lives on Beaty Street with his beautiful wife Cherry Ann. Their home was the first residence built when the Beaty Mason property was sold and began selling lots around the Beaty Mason Mansion around 1902. Mr. Ward is also a regular ghost impersonator during our Annual Cemetery Stroll in September.

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The Beaty District is named for Robert Beaty, co-founder of Athens along with John Carroll. The Beaty Mason Mansion, on the street that bears its name, is currently owned by Athens State University. It traditionally serves as the residence of the University President. At present, it is undergoing renovations. It was once featured in Architectural Digest magazine. This home has the unusual feature of two square and two round columns on the front porch and is also the first split-level house built in Alabama.

If you miss the annual Historical Walking Tours this year, be patient. They will return next April, as they do every year. You may want to keep a watch for the September Athens City Cemetery Stroll and for the October Haunts Walks to learn more about our very brilliant and colorful movers and shakers in Limestone County.
Teresa Todd
Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association
100 N. Beaty Street

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2014-04-18_15-00-33Athens-Limestone County’s “Singing on the Square” is ready to begin another season of great music at no charge in downtown Athens on the Square. This has been a popular event for the past several years for the Limestone County Tourism Association. Singing on the Square offers new talent waiting to be seen, and established talent staying in touch with their fans.

Starting at 6:00PM on the 3rd Friday of each month from April through August, you are invited to bring your lawn chair and enjoy the beautiful evenings in front of our Greek Revival Courthouse and be entertained for free until 8:00PM. You are encouraged to visit the local restaurants before or after the show and our ice cream shops, Kreme Delight or Limestone Drugs, for their great ice cream cones or shakes.

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This year’s sponsors are Champion Chevrolet and Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association. Tourism president Teresa Todd says, “You will enjoy this year’s entertainers. We have some new faces this year and several hometown talents.”

“We are inviting everyone to slow down and come out to enjoy the mixture of talent we will have this year, a little bluegrass, a little rock-n-roll, a little country, and the grand finale- the Athens State Community Band,” said Todd.

April 18th
6:00PM-7:00PM-Trippin’ Dixie
Trippin’ Dixie is a breath of fresh air to the music scene in North Alabama and Southern Tennessee. We give new life and interpretation to Classic Rock music. Trippin’ Dixie is prepared to set this region aflame with the soulful sound of authentic Classic Rock, Blues and other tunes that you love and haven’t heard in a long time.

7:00PM-8:00PM-Dixie Bluegrass Boys
The Dixie Bluegrass Boys will get your toes tapping in their crowd-pleasing performance of traditional bluegrass music. This talented group is based out of Athens, Alabama.

May 16th
6:00-8:00PM-Tilford Sellers and the Wagon Burners
Come join us as crowd favorite Tilford Sellers and the Wagon Burners return for another performance at Singing on the Square. Tilford and his boys play original songs that revive the era of American music when country, rock, and blues were still basically the same. When you hear Tilford and the boys, strains of the Grand Ole Opry, Hank Williams, as well as Charlie Feathers and Buddy Holly come to mind.

June 20th
6:00PM-8:00PM-Matt Prater
Matt Prater is a singer and songwriter from Athens who brings a mix of country, folk rock, soul and gospel to his performances. Matt will perform his original songs, as well as covers of his favorites.

July 18th
6:00PM-8:00PM-Anna Catherine DeHart
Anna Catherine DeHart has big dreams and a big voice to match. With her sights set on Music City, Anna Catherine blends the pure sounds of traditional country with the famous voices who have produced today’s country hits. Anna Catherine’s influences range from classics like Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette to some of today’s superstars like Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Martina McBride, and Lady Antebellum. Her strong voice is mature beyond her young years.

August 15th
6:00PM-8:00PM-Athens State University Community Band
Athens State University Community Band under the direction of Dan Havely, former director of the Athens High School Band program, returns to Singing on the Square. This fan favorite is comprised of local musicians that continue to spread the joy of music to the community.
By: Teresa Todd, President, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association
100 Beaty Street Athens, Al 35611

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2014-04-04_14-20-16Enjoy the spring weather and find out about the history of our town!

The Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association announces its April Historic Walking Tours to be held each Saturday in April (April 5, 12, 19, and 26). Walkers should meet at the Athens Visitors Center, 100 North Beaty Street, (corner of Beaty and Market Streets by the duck pond) at 9:45 AM. The walks will begin promptly at 10:00 AM and will last approximately one hour.

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Alabama is the only state in the nation to hold statewide, simultaneous walking tours. We have had over 900 walkers since Athens started participating in the state walks in 2006 and they keep increasing in popularity every year. Walkers may choose one of 4 different walks each Saturday in April. The walks are free and open to the public. It’s a great way for children to learn about local history. Groups are welcome.

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Experience the culture and history of Athens by taking one of the walks.

Tour 1: Historic Downtown Athens Square
Tour 2: Beaty Historic District, Washington Street and Old Town Cemetery
Tour 3 – City Cemetery
Tour 4 – Houston Historic District

Local residents serving as guides will share personal remembrances and tall tales from the old days as well as the history of their respective walk.

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OTHER EVENTS YOU MAY WANT TO ENJOY DURING APRIL INCLUDE:

Alabama Veterans Museum Coffee Call – Apr 5, at 8:00 AM

Athens Cruise In on the Square – Apr 5, from 3:00 PM – 8:00 PM

3rd Annual Storybook Ball at Limestone County Event Center – April 5, from 5:00PM-7:00PM storybookball@yahoo.com

Celebrity Waiters Night at Applebee’s Highway 72, Athens – April 8th for Relay for Life from 5:30PM-8:30PM .

Chick-Fil-A 10K/5K/1-Mile Athens – April 12th, from 7:00AM to 10:00AM. Register online at CFS Race Series.

Singing on the Square – April 18th from 6:00PM-8:00PM. Join Athens-Limestone County Tourism for this free concert series. “Trippin Dixie” will start us off at 6:00PM with the “Dixie Blue Grass Boys” coming on at 7:00PM. I have a new surprise this year, so come out to see what it is and enjoy the great music. For more information, call 256-232-5411.

Walk for Autism and 5K Race to Solve the Puzzle, Athens High School – April 19. For more information, register to participate or donate online at www.walkforautismal.com

1st Annual T&C Stamping, Inc. Relay TEE Cup Golf Scramble at Canebrake Golf Course – April 24. Win a car from Jimmy Smith Buick-GMC. For more information or to register call 256-233-7373 or email Leah Stephens lstephens@tandcstamping.com or Suzanne Linnemannslinnemann@tandcstamping.com

Best Bucking BBQ Cook-Off Southern Crossroads will host the 8th Annual Best Bucking BBQ Cook Off, April 25-26, 2014 in Athens, Alabama at the Limestone County Sheriff’s Rodeo Arena 18118 AL Hwy 99. For more information or registration forms, call 256-232-4650

Earth Day and Outdoor EXPO Big Spring Memorial Park Beaty Street, Athens, AL – Apr 26 from 10:00AM-3:00PM. Sponsored by Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful and Athens-Limestone County Tourism. See “The Bat Lady” from Fayetteville, GA and many others. Contact Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful 256-233-8728 or Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association 256-232-5411.

Cars and Bikes on the Square Athens, AL – Apr 26 from 8:00am to 3:00pm
Activities 8:00am to 8:00pm. For more information: www.CarsontheSquare.com; Tom Schuman 256-457-9179 or by email at TSchuman@comrep.com

Prancing Paws Carnival Celebration- April 26 from 10:00AM-1:00PM at Beasley Fields, Athens State University Hobbs Street, Athens.

For more information on the above events or other events and attractions in Athens-Limestone, visit the Athens Visitors Center located at 100 North Beaty Street or call 256-232-5411. Information is also posted on our website – www.visitathensal.com.
By: Teresa Todd, President, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association

2014-03-07_15-10-14March is one of those months where you don’t know what to expect weather-wise. But one thing you can expect is one of the community’s favorite events: the annual Council on Aging’s Poke Sallet Follies. This year’s theme is “Be Our Guest.” You can have dinner and a show, plus a ton of laughs for only $35.

Senior centers in Athens and Limestone County provide critical services such as Meals on Wheels and medical insurance counseling to the elderly. The Athens-Limestone Foundation on Aging was established by Limestone County citizens to raise money to help support these centers and their services.

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Since 1992, Poke Sallet Follies has been raising money for our senior citizens’ needs and activities. Before the Follies were started, there were the occasional yard sale and chicken stews, which might have brought in $1,000. The necessities for the centers were more than these small, sporadic fundraisers were able to raise. It was then that Athens resident Harriette Rost approached former COA Director Helen Carter with a possible way to eliminate these small fundraisers and have one huge annual one. She suggested it should be held in the spring when everything is growing, including the wild growing Polk weed. The goal was to have local business leaders and community directors perform hilarious takes on shows and movies and ‘poke fun’ at themselves. Thus, the name Poke Sallet Follies was established. Approximately $5,000 was raised during its first year. Each year more volunteers came to perform and to help make sets and costumes. The show directors came up with different outrageous skits each year and the crowds grew to the point that the 3-night show now raises close to $20,000. In the past 21 years, Poke Sallet Follies has raised over $282,000 for the Council on Aging. You can see this year’s production March 6th, 7th and 8th at our Athens Senior Center, which is located at 912 W. Pryor Street. Visit their website for more information at www.pokesalletfollies.org

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2014-03-07_15-10-51March is also National Women’s History Month. This year’s theme at the Alabama Veterans’ Museum is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage & Commitment”. “I can think of no other women who displayed these characteristics better than the women of the Vietnam War,” said Alabama Veterans’ Museum Director and Master Sergeant, Sandra Thompson. The speaker for the program will be Dr. Deborah Barnhart, the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Dr. Barnhart’s career spans three decades of service in commercial industry, government, aerospace and defense. A retired Navy Captain (0-6), she was one of the first ten women assigned to duty aboard ships and commanded five units in her 26-year career.

Other honorees include Edith Stewart, Maria Taylor and Linda Blankenship. The Museum will be celebrating these women at their annual Women’s History Program to be held at 1 PM on March 22nd. The Museum is located on 100 Pryor Street, Athens AL. Please contact Sandy Thompson at 256-771-7578 to see how you can be volunteer for this event.

Other March Events

March 7th & 8th: Annual Elkmont Beauty Walk (located at Elkmont High School 25630 Evans Street Elkmont, AL)
Join the Elkmont High School Band Boosters for this fundraiser pageant. The pageant will have 3 divisions: Babies to Preschool age; Kindergarten-6th grade; 7th-12th grade. Admission is $5.00 per night. For details, and please visit elkmonthigh.org, keyword beauty walk.

March 8th: Elk River Canoe and Kayak Trail Cleanup

Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful invites you and your family, church group, scouts troop, or organization to join them in this year’s cleanup of the trail’s waterway, shoreline and launch points. Some canoes and kayaks will be available courtesy of Fort Hampton Outfitters for those who would like to take to the water. You’re also welcome to bring your own flat-bottom boat, canoe or kayak and help as well. For those not keen on being out on the water, help is needed along the shores as well. Lunch and bottled water will be provided to volunteers. Please contact Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful 256-233-8728 or by email at info@keepathenslimestonebeautiful.com.

March 15th: The Learn to Read Corporate Spelling Bee (10 AM, Athens High School Cafeteria)

Come watch the fun as three-person teams from area businesses, clubs, and organizations come to compete in this annual fundraiser. Team fee is $300.00 and benefits Learn to Read programs. Spectators free. To enter your team, or for more information, call 256-230-3050.

March 15th: Ardmore Shamrock Shuffle Race
Ardmore Shamrock Shuffle is a chip-timed 5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Run/ Walk located in Ardmore, Alabama. The annual event celebrates the good times and fun of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday with Irish music and food from a variety of vendors. Register at active.com

March 14th & 15th: Ardmore 44th Annual Beauty Walk (Gymnasium Ardmore High School 30285 Ardmore Avenue, Ardmore AL)
Grades K-5 will compete at 6:30PM March 14th (competition also open to students in Cedar Hill and Johnson Elementary Schools). Preschool will compete at 10AM on Saturday March 15th (ages 0-5 from any area and not yet enrolled in kindergarten). Grades 6-12 will compete 7PM on March 15th. For more information, contact ardmore-beautywalk@gmail.com

Mar 15th: Rocket Run Ten Miler, Mooresville, AL.
This Huntsville Track Club Members Race runs a ten-mile route through Alabama’s oldest city.

Mar 22nd: Running Buck Wild Extreme 5K and Fun Run at Joe Wheeler State Park (4403 McLean Dr, Rogersville, AL 35652)
This 5K will take runners across different terrains such as hiking trails, asphalt, and gravel roads. For more information or to register, visit the Joe Wheeler State Park Running Buck Wild Page at http://www.alapark.com/joewheeler/RunningBuckWild5K/.

For more information on the above events or other events and attractions in Athens-Limestone, visit the Athens Visitors Center located at 100 North Beaty Street or call 256-232-5411. Information is also posted on our website, www.visitathensal.com.
By: Teresa Todd

2014-02-07_13-50-02This time of year, couples are making plans to show their love for one another with a special Valentine’s Day celebration. Valentine’s Day is a day to express your love and to celebrate the spirit of love – so do something special for your loved one.

Flowers, candy, jewelry, candle-light dinner, a night at the movies, a day of shopping or even a getaway weekend at a nice hotel/motel is always great. Athens and Limestone County businesses would enjoy the opportunity to help you celebrate.

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Local florists will deliver bouquets to your love one. Most women who work enjoy having flowers delivered to their worksite. Valentine’s Day cards and candy are available at local stores. Chocolate-covered strawberries from Russell Stover, Sugar Mama’s Sweet Treats and other locations are good options as well.

Go to one of our locally owned restaurants like LuVici’s, Casa Blanca, Little Texas and Village Pizza downtown. There is also Catfish Cabin, Lawler’s, Clark’s Family Restaurant, 306 BBQ, Picasso Grill, The Big Easy and many others on Hwy 72. All are great choices for a nice cozy meal. After dinner, go take in a movie at our CineMagic Theater.

Make your loved one feel special with a getaway from the kids for the weekend (or just the night) at one of our local hotels/motels. Local properties will treat you like royalty when you spend the night/weekend with them. Most provide a hot breakfast; two have indoor pools (Fairfield and Holiday Inn & Suites). Some hotels are even offering special Valentine’s Day packages. Call around and see what’s available.

Gifts of all types are available throughout the county at the specialty shops and department stores. Stop by one of the jewelry stores (Hobbs Jewelers and Osborne’s Jewelers) and pick up a special surprise for your favorite person. If you are not sure what to get, the sales personnel at our downtown shops like Pablo’s, Pimentos, Trinity, Crawford’s, UG White and others can help you pick out something special. If your budget is low, you can do something as simple as walking hand-in-hand through one of the parks or walking trails and watch the sunset. It’s all about showing your special person how important they are to you. You still have time to plan for that special day!

If you need information about these or other events and attractions in Athens-Limestone, visit the Athens Visitors Center located at 100 North Beaty Street or call 256-232-5411. Information is also posted on our website www.VisitAthensAL.com.
By: Teresa Todd, President, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association

1-17-2014 3-30-32 PMHave you ever wondered what role the Tourism Office or Visitor Center has in the community of Limestone County? The primary purpose of the Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association is to solicit into Athens and Limestone County “temporary tax payers.” In other words, people who come to visit stay in our hotels, buy gas, enjoy their meals in our restaurants and attend our events and attractions. To our “Limestone County” Tourism Industry, we bring historians, naturalists, hikers, bikers, equestrians, kayak enthusiasts, fishermen, Civil War re-enactors, artisans, storytellers, artists, musicians, sporting events, horse shows, rodeos, seminars, meetings, conferences and class / family reunions (to name a few) from all across the country.

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We also develop tourism through the promotion of permanent attractions such as the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives – be on the lookout for a major announcement from Museum Director Sandra Thompson and her team during the course of the New Year! Our Historic District and Antebellum Homes offer driving tours to our visitors, and the Limestone County Archives has generations looking into their family genealogy to discover and preserve those precious times of yesteryear. Athens also boasts its very own Drive-In Theater positioned alongside our Walk-In Theater. This Drive-In is one of only nine in the state of Alabama and though they are considered a dying breed, some things do get better with age. Athens State University Founders Hall (built in 1822) is Alabama’s oldest institution of higher education. ASU has seen exponential growth recently including a new partner initiative with the University of North Alabama. Tourists come into our Limestone County communities for songwriters night and entertainment facilities. Festivals known across the country such as the Old Time Fiddlers Convention (soon to embark on its 50th Anniversary) and new visions such as the Athens Grease Festival, where we celebrate all things fried, also bring new faces. Visitors also find themselves satiating at our unique and interesting restaurants that run the gamut from authentic Cajun cuisine to Award-Winning Goat Cheese.

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We encourage historical activities such as our free guided historical walks held each Saturday in April and educational programs like ‘Earth Day’ celebration, art camps & strolls and the farmer’s markets held throughout the summers. The Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association / Athens Visitors Center is located in the historic Athens Utilities Building and was built in 1906. In later years it was often referred to as the “Domino Hall” where men played weekly dominos. Decades later, Athens City Council agreed to renovate the building and include a beautiful wood and glass community room that looks out on the Big Spring Memorial Park’s relaxing fountains and various species of ducks. Athens-Limestone County is rich in history, culture and music, but our eye is very much fixated on the future and new growth opportunities for “Our Town.”

1-17-2014 3-30-48 PMOn April 1, 2010, the Visitors Center / Tourism Office opened at 100 N. Beaty Street. The original brick walls with wood ceilings and floors are reminiscent of the building in its beginning. Currently the Visitor Center has a “Delmore Brothers” exhibit on display. Alton and Rabon Delmore were born in Elkmont, Limestone County, AL. In 1931, the Delmore Brothers joined WSM’s Grand Ole Opry. They later moved to Raleigh, North Carolina then to WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they formed the Browns Ferry Four Gospel Quartet. The original members of this famous quartet were Alton, Rabon, Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis.

ALCTA is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM, and in the summer on Saturdays from 8:00 AM – noon. Come by for a tour of our historic building. Look through the rack of brochures and post cards. We will be pleased to tell you more about Limestone County, “We have what you love about the South!”
By: Teresa Todd Athens-Limestone County Tourism President
100 Beaty Street, Athens, AL 35611

12-20-2013 6-41-01 PMThis first year at the Tourism Office has gone so quickly. Trade Shows, Festivals, Events and Marketing College all to attend, and meeting many new travelers to our town; it has been so enjoyable.

Since we did have so many events, festivals and activities this past year, I thought I would give you an overview of 2013.

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The Alabama Veterans Museum is one of the best military exhibition halls in all of Alabama. They start us off every year and the first Saturday every month with Coffee Call, a locally sponsored breakfast for Veterans at 8:00 AM.

Due to the increased interest at the Museum, you will be seeing new things happening there this coming year. A new addition will be in the works as the old pavilion will be removed to make way for additional exhibits and guests.

Another active historical facility is the Houston Memorial Library and Museum. Here you will find some of the original artifacts of two-time Governor George S. Houston and the Donnell House Living Museum.

February began our festivals and events. The Spirit of Athens sponsored their first ‘Chocolate Walk’ for Valentine’s, followed by the Limestone County Hospice Chili Challenge and finished up with the Prime Time Players performing in the famous Polk Sallet Follies. Then we had the Home and Garden Show in March.

In April the fun times began! We started with the Cruise In on the square every first Saturday of the month. The Athens Historic Walks each Saturday at the Visitor Center mixed in with Earth Day Celebration/Outdoor EXPO, the Best Buckin’ BBQ Cook-off, and the first of the monthly Singing on the Square. We rounded out April with Cars & Bikes on the Square Car Show.

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As the rhyme goes with May flowers, you could find them at the Annual Athens Bible School Homespun Arts & Craft Show. Ardmore had their ‘Truck & Tractor’ pull, and the American Cancer Society had their annual Relay for Life. We also had a great educational ‘Living History’ at the Donnell House with the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The month ended with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Rodeo, winner of the 2010 Event of the Year!

As June approached and the kids were out of school, the Kiddie Carnival began… just in time! There were also the monthly Coffee Call, Cruise In and Singing on the Square, and Ardmore enjoyed their Kids Day.

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July started off with rain, lots of rain! We were even wishy washy on whether to have the July 4th fireworks. However, the rain did make for a nice & muddy CASA Mud Volleyball Tournament, and it dried up well for the Alabama Championship Tractor/Truck Pull at Tanner.

August’s awesome fun began with the Ardmore Rodeo followed by Piney Chapel American Farm Heritage Days, Ardmore Quarterback Car Show, Athens State Community Band Annual Concert on the Square, Cruise In, Singing on the Square and the Ardmore Crape Myrtle Festival.

September’s special events were the Annual Cemetery Walks, followed by the Annual Trail of Tears Remembrance Ride. We had the 5-K Duck and Run race, the Gospel Jubilee and the one and only ‘Athens Grease Festival’ for all things fried.

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With the cooler days and the beautiful colors of October, it can mean only one thing–the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention. It could also mean ‘Haunts Walks’ every week with guided tours of all the haunted homes and businesses in Athens. The fun and prizes are always great at the Wacky Quacky Ducky Derby. The Elkmont Hilltop Arts Festival didn’t disappoint with its great entertainment and one of a kind crafts. The Athens Storytelling Festival had a special treat with the new amateur night, including winners Frank Travis and Jerry Todd.

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In November we raised our flags, saluted, and thanked our veterans for their service and sacrifice with parades and ceremonies. The Chamber of Commerce and Spirit of Athens offered another record breaking Christmas Open House in downtown Athens.

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In December the excitement began to wind down…a little. However, there were still three parades, (Athens, Ardmore, and Elkmont) to enjoy, SOA’s Sippin’ Cider. Both Mooresville & Athens offered unique Progressive Home tours with snacks provided.

As you can tell, we have so much to do and see. For information about our events for 2014, visit our website www.VisitAthensAL.com or call us at 256-232-5411. Stop by the Athens Visitors Center for brochures and maps in addition to information on dining, shopping, events and attractions.

The Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association staff and board would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

We have great plans for an eventful 2014 tourism year and look forward to having you visit us anytime at 100 N. Beaty Street.
By: Teresa Todd, President, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association

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12-7-2013 10-02-30 AM

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is not a federal holiday. Government offices, schools, businesses and other organizations do not close. However, there are some organizations that hold special events in memory of the more than 2000 Americans who were killed on this day in 1941. Fortunately, we in Athens can also recognize the few remaining local survivors of Pearl Harbor.

11-16-2013 7-34-59 AMThis Saturday, December 7th, 2013, will be 72 years since the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This Saturday is also Coffee Call at the Alabama Veterans’ Museum and Archives where Mr. Sherwin Callander of Madison, AL, a Pearl Harbor survivor, is planning to attend. Mr. Callander has been attending the monthly Coffees for several years, and has been driving himself up until recently. But to hear him tell it, it is his way of having a pretty woman on his arm to escort.

It is places like our Veterans’ Museum that give a setting, or permission it seems, to allow our Veterans to talk (or just be around other Vets). They can heal from the painful memories, and are finally able to share their experiences with their families. The Alabama Veterans’ Museum and Archives has been called “Athens’ best kept secret,” but the secret is beginning to get out!

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In 2009, the Museum received the North Alabama Peek Award as the “Attraction of the Year,” and rightly so. The Museum opened in 2002; they are open 6 days a week and see visitors from all parts of the U.S. and countries around the world. The monthly coffees bring in close to 200 guests for breakfast and more would attend if we had the room. Museum Director Sandra Thompson said, “We are eager to begin our expansion so we can better serve the community, our visitors and our Veterans. We have received a couple of donations towards the Building Fund project but more funds, grants and community support are needed.”

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Below are two stories that have been shared with me through the Veterans Museum, of two local men who survived Pearl Harbor.

Sherwin Callander
US Navy – 1939-1945

During the Great Depression, Callander was fighting forest fires in California for the Civilian Conservation Corps in order to send money back home when recruiters were signing up young men to serve Uncle Sam. Callander said “it was the Navy recruiter who won me over with one sentence, ‘You’ll have a girl in every port.’” He enlisted in the Navy in 1939.

Callender was aboard the USS Wright in the area of Midway Island. They traveled from there to Wake Island and on to Pearl Harbor to restock. They were one day away when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

When Callander arrived at Pearl Harbor the morning after the Japanese attacked, his duties were to bring the dead bodies out of the ocean. He said, “That was my first sight of a mass murder.” As they sifted through the water they were to place body parts in plastic bags. The bags were to contain parts to make up a complete body. “People just don’t realize what all we had to do,” Callander repeated.

Callander later shipped off to Australia. He also made three invasions into North Africa, Italy and France, with an assault troop transport. Callander served in the Navy until 1945. At that time he simply said, “I have seen enough.”

The attack on Pearl Harbor came as a surprise to the American Army and Navy and led to great losses of life and equipment. More than 2000 American citizens were killed and more than 1000 were injured. The Americans also lost a large portion of their battleships and nearly 200 aircraft that were stationed in the Pacific region. More than 60 Japanese servicemen were killed, injured or captured. The Japanese Navy also lost five midget submarines and 29 aircraft.

The Japanese military had hoped that the attack on Pearl Harbor would prevent the United States of America from increasing her influence in the Pacific. However, the events in Pearl Harbor actually led to the escalation of World War II. The day after the attack, the United States declared war on Japan. President Franklin Roosevelt in a speech to Congress stated that the bombing of Pearl Harbor was “a date which will live in infamy.” Shortly afterwards, Germany also declared war on the U.S. In the months that followed the attack, the slogan “Remember Pearl Harbor” swept the United States and radio stations repeatedly played a song of the same name.

Gilbert Crutchfield
Army -1938-1958

On December 6th 2009, the production “We Interrupt This Program…Pearl Harbor Remembered” was performed in Athens as a fundraiser for the Veterans Museum. The Guests of Honor were not only all the veterans who have served our country so bravely, but our own Pearl Harbor survivor, Gilbert M. Crutchfield, of Tanner, Alabama.

The interview of Mr. Gil Crutchfield was handled by Jerry Barksdale. Crutchfield gave an account of his days before, the day of, and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Crutchfield was a rifleman in the 25th Wolfhound Division, guarding a vital railroad bridge when he woke to the sound of shells exploding on December 7th, 1941. He had just sent his weapon the day before for repairs, so he hastened to the supply tent where he found a shotgun and 5 shells.
Mr. Crutchfield still has a quick wit when he commented, “I could have done pretty good if they were dropping birds on us.”
After the attack, Gil would be one of four soldiers assigned to spend 10 months guarding the military governor where he stayed at the palace in Hawaii. His division was then sent to Guadalcanal to relieve the Marines after they had thwarted attempts by the Japanese to overtake the island.
He retired in 1958 after serving in the Korean War as a first Lieutenant.

Gil said he enlisted in the Army in 1938 to make more of himself than a 50 cent per week salary…and he certainly did. We sadly lost Mr. Crutchfield when he passed away at age 90, on April 13, 2011.

I’d like to thank all of our military personnel for your service and dedication to our country. These are just two stories of the thousands who took it upon themselves to fight for our country, for our way of life, our freedom.

I am so proud to honor you and share your stories on this day of infamy so others have a little better understanding of how life was and could still be.
By: Teresa Todd, Athens-Limestone County Tourism President

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