Friday, August 26, 2016

Fyffe UFO Day

12th Annual Fyffe UFO Days
Saturday August 27, 2016
Fyffe Town Park @ Graves Street
Fyffe, Alabama

On Feb. 11, 1989, several people reported seeing UFOs over Fyffe. The sightings would become a national story. The first call was made to the Fyffe Police Department. A woman reported seeing a strange object in the sky. By the end of Feb. 12, more than 50 residents had reported seeing the strange objects, including the town's police chief and his assistant. Due to the interest and publicity that surrounded this event more than 4,000 visitors showed up the next day to see the UFO but sad to say there were no further sighting.
Since this event had become known nationwide, community leaders 12 years ago decided to create a local festival themed on the UFO sightings.
You will enjoy all the fun, fellowship with friends and great offerings for food and entertainment. Please come spend the day and bring the whole family. There is something fun for all ages.
Here is the line up including the 5K run.
You can register on-line at or print out a form and mail a check to Fyffe Spirit Club, PO Box 11, Fyffe, AL 35971. Great prizes. Great dry fit shirts!
5:30 p.m. Registration begins
6:30 p.m. 5K starts
Kids Fun Run: $20.00
Kids are now able to get involved in the 5K fun with a kids fun run. Fun run is one mile and will be held at the conclusion of the 5k. Winner receives a prize and a medal. Fun run for ages 10 and under.
rqqe5K: $25.00 pre-registration
$30.00 Registration day of Race.
$20.00 group rate (ten or more and must have matching shirts)

2016 UFO Days Entertainment Line-Up
Tentative Schedule -Subject to Change

9:00 a.m. Gates open for festival (music, food, vendors, and more)
10:00 a.m. Deborah Peek
10:45 a.m. Dennis George
11:30 a.m. Welcome speech from the Mayor
12:15 p.m. The Sharp’s
1:00 p.m. The LST Band
1:45p.m. Jack Martin and Forever Country
2:30 p.m. Danny Lee
3:15 p.m. Jeff Martin & Caleb Chisenhall
4:00 p.m. Still Kickin’
4:45 p.m. Backwoods Revival
6:15 p.m. Notorious
7:00 p.m. Willie Underwood
7:45 p.m. Country Case
8:30 p.m. Jamie O’Neal ( She’s Somebody’s Hero, There is no Arizona, When I think about Angels, Trying to find Atlantis)

Contact: Jeff Maddox- 256-461-8612 or email
- Rides cost $200 per person.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fort Payne Third Saturday Sunset

Third Saturday Sunset Cruise In is constantly improving; more entertainment, more classic cars, more food, more people and more fun. It has been fantastic each of the four times we have had it this year. Fort Payne Main Street hosts the Main Street Block Party each Third Saturday at the DeKalb Theater Courtyard, which now has a roof over it and is getting a great new façade. At the block party we will have a photo booth with dress up costumes and some live music with Justin Coonce. There will be pop corn, beer and wine sales and a lot of tables and chairs to sit and enjoy your friends and all the fun taking place at the Main Street Courtyard event. This is a really fun way to spend a Saturday evening. Gault Avenue is closed to traffic and downtown from 1st Street to 5th Street becomes a big walkway to stroll and enjoy an evening of entertainment, food, shopping, games for the kids and 200 classic cars, or more. It is here you will see many of your friends that you have not seen for awhile. Along the way you will hear great local entertainers. They are spaced at just the right distance apart so when you start getting too far away to hear one, you begin hearing another. This means at almost all locations along your walk through downtown you can hear music. As you walk you will find a large collection of classic cars provided by local collectors and car enthusiasts. Gault Avenue will be lined with cars, one after another, on both sides of the street. Amelia Landstreet, who heads up the Third Saturday planning committee, tells us there are often as many as 250 classic cars.  In addition to Amelia Landstreet, the other dedicated planners on the Third Saturday committee are Terry Locklear, Johnny Eberhart, Randall Ham, Steve Westmoreland and Chris Roberts. Third Saturday Sunset is held from April through October. The hours are 4-8 PM. At sunset on a nice evening the sunlight sets shining its sparkle across our beautiful historic downtown and lights up the side of Lookout Mountain with a beautiful warm glow. We are truly blessed with a very appealing downtown with our historic Boom Days architecture of the late 1880’s to the perfectly maintained City Parks all clustered in our historic district close to  the original, recently restored Coal & Iron/Opera Block.  Just down the road is the Depot Museum, Alabama Walking Park and our new Rotary Pavilion amphitheater. The whole time you are walking around downtown Lookout Mountain is standing there beside you, majestic and peaceful. There is a sense of being nestled at the foot of the mountain that gives Fort Payne another attribute to its already strong visual appeal as an all American downtown…quaint, friendly and steeped in good will, strong values and a strong sense of community that is exhibited everywhere you look and to everyone you speak.
Many thanks to the Mayor and City Council and to the Third Saturday planning committee along with Fort Payne Main Street and the downtown merchants who have done a great job hosting this event. The crowd estimated at 2,500 to 3,000 made for a very successful event. Also thanks to our Parks and Recreation Department for keeping our parks “picture perfect” and to the police and fire departments who protect our people and our assets. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Vacation is Over by John Dersham

The World’s Longest Yard Sale (WLYS) has ended, school has begun and our official end to summer vacation has arrived. The WLYS is our largest single weekend event for tourism each year and in recent years school has started on or shortly after the WLYS. The beginning of school typically marks the end of our summer tourism season. This does not mean we will not continue to have vacationers since many of our leisure travelers are Baby Boomers with grown kids and they do not have to adhere to the school calendar. Our numbers prove, however, that August suddenly becomes a quieter month after the yard sale ends
Our next major spike in tourism will happen in the fall. October and November have become nearly equal to June and July for us. People living in the coastal plains of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and north Florida find us an easy to get to destination, with stellar fall color, pleasing temperatures and a very relaxing low cost get a way. Typically, our fall tourism season begins to pick up in middle to late September with our Boom Days Heritage Celebration the third weekend in September each year. From that point we have a continuing increase in visitors through October and November. We find visitors are renting cabins for Thanksgiving family events and we continue to see visitors coming to our parks, camping and renting cabins through early December. As Christmas approaches it will get a lot quieter here until March when people begin venturing out for weekend trips as spring approaches.
Cloudmont Ski Resort provides some winter visitors and we get a fair amount of travelers staying in our hotels during the Christmas travel season. We should have a good year for Christmas travel, provided gas prices stay fairly low.

In the case of our pre fall tourism, Fyffe UFO day is August 27, Ider Mule Day is coming on Labor Day (Sept 5),  then Boom Days Heritage Festival and Third Saturday Sunset Cruise In (Sept. 16 &17) and the DeKalb VFW Agricultural Fair (Sept. 26 thru Oct. 1). There is always plenty to do in our area. To prove it, visit our website ( calendar of events and you will find plenty of things to attend year around.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Record summer for tourism by John Dersham

We are well on our way to a record summer in tourism in the United States according to the U.S. Travel Association. Early reports say the July 4th holiday was the largest in history as far as number of people travelling. Alabama is reporting record numbers, as well, and so are we.  We are nearly 10 percent above last year, using our year to date numbers and our numbers come in from the state revenue office 60 days in arrears. This means we do not have our June and July numbers yet. I am expecting, judging from the visitors seen and reported by attractions and lodging partners throughout DeKalb County, that the growth over last year will be well over 10%...we hope.
Some of the contributors to this growth are due to an overall strengthening of the U.S. economy and lower gas prices than the last number of years. Our travel industry is hopeful the trend will continue and growth will continue. Both Alabama and DeKalb are growing at a steady rate. As the state of Alabama continues to become an increasingly popular destination, every area of our state will benefit from the publicity and added national and international attention the state is receiving.
In a few weeks we will end our summer travel season with our largest single attendance event of the year with the World’s Longest Yard Sale (WLYS). This event is held this year from August 4-7, officially, but many vendors and a lot of activity on our section of the yard sale (located on the Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway) will begin as early as the weekend prior. Event promoters estimate the total number of visitors along the WLYS route from Gadsden to the Georgia state line should exceed 25,000 -30,000. Despite the size of this number many people agree the WLYS is not as big as its peak in the late 90’s thru 2005. The reason is demographic. The biggest portion of support for the yard sale has been the Mature/Silent (sometimes known as the Greatest Generation) and the Baby Boomer population both of  which are aging out  of the collector buying process and the X-Generation and Millennia’s, as a whole, do not have a material driven culture. They tend to accumulate less with an emphasis on engagement in travel, entertainment and culinary pleasures. None the less, the WLYS will continue to be a major tourism event for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

International Travel Writers by John Dersham

I really had fun last weekend. We had the honor of having a bus full of travel writers spend a weekend here in DeKalb. They work in different countries for publications that will publish articles they write about us. Our visitors were from Brittan, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Austria and China. Let me tell just how important it is to have travel writers here. If we run an ad in a major magazine it costs us up to $6,000 for a small ad when the consumer sees paid travel advertising they assume the destination will be bragging about themselves…thus lessening the total impact. When a travel writer writes an article about our destination the consumer believes they are getting accurate and helpful information. In addition, when they write a story about us and it is in a popular travel magazine, it is free publicity. In other words, it costs us nothing to get better advertising than we could pay for. This is why when travel writers come to town we want to make sure we give them the best hospitality and show them our beauty, our customer service and all the great things there are to see and do in DeKalb, including eating and shopping. Our visitors spent Saturday and Sunday touring our area. DeKalb Tourism and DeSoto State Park serviced as the local hosts and I served as tour guide. This was an event hosted by North Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association and the trip included five days in North Alabama. Our guests stayed at DeSoto State Park and on Saturday evening we had a dinner that included a welcome to the park by Ken Thomas and a DeKalb Tourism talk by me. We had a booth set up so they could get our travel guides and information. We toured Desoto S.P. and Little River Canyon, which included rappelling with True Adventure Sports and Israel Partridge as the host. We ended up at Wildflower Café in Mentone for great food and musical entertainment specifically welcoming our visitors. The really good news is what they think of us. Wow, they love our area, our people, our food and they were totally awe struck by our scenic beauty and they were totally amazed we had a 650’ canyon in Alabama. Their upcoming articles will be another step in growth for us in the International market. The magazines they write for will be viewed in their countries and help consumers pick us as one of their destinations when coming to the southeast U.S. Fortunately for me, most international visitors speak English and communicate well in the U.S. When we travel abroad most of us are dependent on them knowing English since not many of us are bi or tri lingual.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Third Saturday Sunset in Fort Payne by John Dersham

Last Saturday we had our first Third Saturday Sunset event of the year and I believe it set a record for both attendance and the number of classic cars being shown. The weather was nice and I think everyone was eager to get out see old friends and enjoy this beautiful springtime weather. I am very excited and encouraged by all the exciting things we have going on in Fort Payne. It seems our future looks really good with multiple things in the works like Main Street Fort Payne who now occupies the DeKalb Theater court yard with a Wine and Beer garden and water from The Water Tree. The court yard has great places to sit and is very comfortable to sit and have a drink and talk to friends and listen to music. Main Street Fort Payne intends on having exhibits from retailers and special events in the court yard during Third Saturday and perhaps some food too. We are looking at the possibilities as we plan the upcoming year. I serve on the Main Street board and am on the Promotion Committee with Paige Davis heading up the festivals part of the promotion team, Heather Buckner heads up the Marketing and Jerry Lockhart  is chair of the merchant promotion segment. Amelia Landstreet heads up the Third Saturday planning committee and she coordinates the car show, which is always outstanding. City Councilman Johnny Eberhart and others from the city help with music, food and managing the closing of the Gault Avenue during the event. These are just a few names of contributors to the event. There are lots of volunteers helping to make this successful from April through October. This event is growing and has served as a very successful event to get people downtown to enjoy shopping, live music, classic cars, food and beverage sales, our parks and some children’s activities. My whole family enjoys this event each month. We see friends, talk and walk and we enjoy our downtown environment. It is a great addition to our community. If you have not been to our Third Saturday Sunset event, I invite you to come and enjoy the fun. It takes place each third Saturday of the month beginning in April and ending in October. The hours are 5-9 P.M. I hope to see you there.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Come on Down by John Dersham

Last Friday I attended the AAA Great Vacations Expo in Columbus, Ohio. The three day weekend event provides us a great opportunity to promote our area by visiting with potential visitors in person. Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association has a booth there and volunteers from various Destination Marketing Organizations, like DeKalb Tourism and others, come to work the booth to help sell North Alabama as a must visit vacation for the more than 40,000 visitors who attend the event in the downtown Columbus, Ohio Convention Center. These large winter travel shows are fun to work. I always meet a lot of really interesting and fun people who visit our booth. Many have already been to our area and want to come back, some are planning their first trip to our area and some say they have never been to Alabama and do not seem very interested in coming. It is these people we have to sell our destination. They often do not view Alabama the way we do, as residents. They are often surprised when we show pictures of mountains and beautiful fall foliage, they often think of us as flat with mostly pine trees. The ones who have already been to our area love it, they talk about coming back. They like our open spaces, mountains, great fishing lakes, sunny warm weather, great food and friendly people. For those who have not been, but have a trip planned, they learned about us at this show or they heard from a friend or relative who recommended our destination. It is easy to sell them on coming to DeKalb County because of our large terrific parks, mountains, great scenery, hiking, camping and waterfalls. Everyone loves waterfalls and they are all over our brochures and display units. Just the pictures alone attract people to come. Pictures really do speak a thousand words and many people would rather see a picture than read about a destination. Nearly 3 billion dollars are spent by tourists annually in North Alabama. Tourism is the largest non-agricultural business in the state and it is critical to the health of our state economy. These large travel expos that we attend each year serve as a relatively inexpensive way to target markets that we know are good markets for North Alabama. The one-on-one contact with potential visitors with an array of printed material to hand out gives us an edge up as a possible destination for them. These large travel shows are scattered all around the country in larger cities, usually in their convention centers. They often include the exhibiting and sales of boats, RV’s, fishing equipment, camping and hiking gear, bikes, motorcycles and other outdoor environmental products. Destination Marketing Organizations, like ours, usually have an entire exhibit hall dedicated for travel planning. Boats and fishing will have their own hall, as will RV’s, motorcycles etc.