Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summertime Tourism by John Dersham

 Summertime is all about the outdoors, right? Being in tourism we get to see firsthand the thousands of people who are coming from all around the country and the world to visit just to see our beautiful scenery and participate in our exquisite outdoor playground. They are camping, they are in hotels, B&B’s and rental cabins. They come here to hike, see waterfalls and explore the wilderness. At the same time our nine summer camps are crowded with kids doing outdoor sports, hiking, horse riding and having outdoor cookouts and parents who come and spend the weekend with us when delivering kids and again when picking them up. The summer camps in DeKalb County are critical to our summer tourism business.
 This year we are enjoying a very lush green summer with temperatures that have been mostly under 90 for most of the season, thus far. Our appeal has always been the outdoors and we are focusing more and more on the outdoorsy; Generation X and Millenial's who are really into adventure sports, hiking, biking, rappelling, kayaking, rock climbing, and yes they like a good meal with a cold beer after a day in nature. This is where our communities come in. Generation X and Millenial's like entertainment and good food and drinks. They prioritize spending their travel dollars on experiences that include good food, music and a cool looking environment to do it in. Vintage 1889 restaurant, bar and entertainment venue in Fort Payne is in a historic building with interior brick walls, it exemplifies the experience these two generations are looking for.
Our area over the last 30 years has greatly attracted the Baby Boomer generation. They had the income and the desire to travel. They loved Bed and Breakfast lodges, camping and renting cabins to relax and hang their feet of the porch railing. The Baby Boomers were affluent, well employed and equipped with full time jobs and great vacation time and they were eager to travel and see our country and the world. In my first several years in tourism, 2008 through 2012 the “Boomers” still spent the most money traveling and they were our bread and butter for tourism to DeKalb. That has and is gradually changing as many Baby Boomers lost retirement money in collapsing companies or during the great recession. Income loss along with aging the oldest Boomers (1946-1964) now in their early 70’s are traveling less and spending less money, as a whole. In the meantime the Generation X and Millennial have surpassed the Boomers in income wealth, and travel expenditures. The Millennial’s are especially interested in experiences over material items and they tend to travel more, eat at better restaurants and spend more on vacations and less on houses, furniture and other household items. It is our job in tourism to change how we market our area to fit the generation that is willing to come spend time with us. This is why at all of our annual tourism training seminars and symposiums there is always a guest speaker that is an expert on generational marketing. It is critical to our long term growth to offer a tourism portfolio that fits the visitor demographic that is interested in coming to our area.
Thus far we are having a very successful summer tourism season. Our lodging numbers are up and so are the headcounts at our major local events and at our area parks. We feel we have a great future for tourism in our area. It will be important that we along with our community leaders and business entrepreneurs adjust their offerings to visitors to meet the changing demographics of the ever changing generations.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Don’t Miss the World’s Longest Yard Sale coming in August!
As seen on HGTV, in Southern Living, Country Living, USA Today, Newsweek, The Tonight Show and more!
If you’re looking for a unique and entertaining road trip this summer, you won’t find a better choice than the World’s Longest Yard Sale along Highway 127 and the Lookout Mountain Parkway. From August 3rd to August 6th, you’ll find hundreds of yard sale vendors ready to supply you with treasures you’ve always wanted, trinkets you never knew you needed, and tons of fun along the way!
Running from Gadsden, Alabama, to Addison, Michigan, this four-day event covers more than 690 miles of scenic beauty, plus tons of yard sale bargains and treasures.
Get started on along the 93-mile Lookout Mountain Parkway route from Gadsden, Alabama to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the most "scenic rural America" in the United States. There are more than one thousand yard sale vendors in Alabama alone, offering everything from antiques, collectibles, furniture, dishwares, fresh garden produce, homemade jams and jellies, food vendors, live entertainment, and much more.
The yard sale continues along the U.S. 127 Corridor from Chattanooga to Addison, Michigan with another 590 miles of yard sale bargains. In total, the Lookout Mountain Parkway and the 127 Corridor have had as many as 5,000 vendors lined along the route in years past, and the 2017 event promises to be even bigger.

Make a Long Weekend of It
If you're a yard sale enthusiast, you already know that the best picking happens early. To get on the road as early as possible, the folks in DeKalb County, Alabama invite you to spend the night in one of hte area's many bed and breafast inns or state park facilities. You'll also find cabin rentals in Historic Mentone, along with other motels and unique accommodations located within minutes of the yard sale route.
Add another day to your visit to allow time to view thescenic vistas and majestic waterfalls of the Little River Canyon National Preserve and DeSoto State Park.  This truly is "America's Most Scenic Shopping Mall!”
  • The yard sale officially begins at the Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden, Alabama, on top of Lookout Mountain. Follow Tabor Road, across from Noccalula Falls. Stay on this road (it will become Alabama 176), and follow it into the Dogtown Community. Stay straight through the 4-way stop, and the road then becomes DeKalb County 89.
  • Stay on 89 through communities such as Five Points, Fort Payne, Fischer, DeSoto State Park and on into Mentone, Alabama.
  • From Mentone, turn right onto Alabama 117 and follow into Georgia where it becomes Georgia Road 48. You will stay straight a short distance before turning left on GA 157, then left on 136, right on 189 then right on 157 again.
  • This takes you directly in front of Rock City where you travel down Lookout Mountain and pick up TN 27 to the U.S. 127 Corridor for the remainder of the yard sale, where it ends in Hudson, MI.
  • (The road winds around a little in Chattanooga as you make your way to the 127 Corridor. Follow Ochs Hwy. off of Lookout Mountain to Tennessee Ave. to Broad St. to Hwy 27 to the U.S. Hwy. 127)
  • If you’re traveling north to south, simply reverse these directions. Although the Yard Sale officially goes from Gadsden, Alabama, to Addison, Michigan, feel free to jump on board anywhere in between. Lots of treasures and antiques await you from one end to the other and all points along the way.
Helpful Suggestions Along the Way
• Be ready to bring home your treasures. Drive a large car, so you won’t have to pass on oversized items that catch your eye.
• Be prepared for the sun and the heat. Bring items such as sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and mosquito repellant to protect yourself from the elements. Remember, the sun can roast you even on a cloudy day.
• Be prepared to walk. Wear comfortable shoes and drink plenty of fluids. It is usually very warm (ok, technically, hot) and all the walking and activities can drain you if you aren’t diligent about hydration!
• Be prepared to pay cash. Many vendors don’t accept credit cards or checks.
• Be on time… or better yet, be early! Though there are hundreds of vendors who sell sun-up to after sundown, you’ll be competing with thousands of other shoppers. And as with any yard sale, the good stuff goes fast.
• Be cautious of other vehicles. Like you, everyone has one eye on the yard sales, and most vehicles will make frequent, unexpected stops. You’ll also see plenty of folks walking along the roadside, so watch for pedestrians.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Exploring the Appalachians in Alabama

Did you know that the Appalachian Mountains stretch all the way from southeastern Canada to central Alabama? That means that you can enjoy some of the most beautiful and exciting outdoor activities in the country… right here in northeast Alabama.

There are lots of great ways to get outdoorsy in Alabama, but the best ones immerse you in the sights, sounds, and smells of the lush landscape. So this summer, instead of the traditional road trip, spend a little time outside. Whether on foot, on horseback, or on the water, you’ll want to get as close to this gorgeous greenery as possible.

Here are just a few of the folks who can help you make sure your outdoor adventure is a safe, fun learning experience for everyone:

One World Adventure Company, based in Fort Payne, offers their expert skills to help you create an unforgettable adventure experience for your family, your coworkers, your class, or your church. Its founders, Bill and Angie Shugart, are committed to collaborating and teaching to help others discover themselves and their own abilities while having a great time in the process.

Regardless of your group’s objectives – having a blast, helping others, setting and meeting healthy challenges, or simply making progress personal growth – One World has an adventure program for you. It’s ideal for teachers, college students, rehabilitation centers, church youth groups, and couples’ groups. One World offer curriculum enhancement, charter education and service learning programs for both traditional and home school programs, as well as service/adventure packages for faith-based organizations. You can even customize your own adventure for yourself or your family from a half-day to five days of guided adventure. 

One World draws from a variety of outdoor activities – including hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, kayaking, rappelling, camping, and outdoor skills classes – so you can customize your experience to meet your group’s needs.  They even have onsite facilities for overnight stays; on site you’ll find a rustic main lodge and two cottages, providing accommodations for up to 22 people, complete with private baths in each room.

The program operates from April through November and even offers a summer day camp for ages 7 to 10 and ages 11 to 14. 

Learn more on Facebook, contact One World Adventure Company directly at 256-634-8370, or reach out by Email.

True Adventure Sports For the more adventurous souls, True Adventure Sports is your outdoor recreational partner. Located just a mile outside Little River Canyon National preserve, they offer partnership and supervision for outdoor adventures, classes, and guided tours, as well as gear and lodging in northeast Alabama.
True Adventure Sports offers classes and certifications in a variety of outdoor activities including rappelling, climbing, and rigging. In addition, you can also work toward certification in emergency response, with classes in confined space rescue, SAR Training, vertical rope rescue, catastrophe class, and swift water rescue. The wilderness school features land navigation, survival training, and wilderness boot camp.
This quest go-to also offers paddling class and seminars in practical ingenuity, a curriculum designed to develop problem-solving skills that are applicable to every situation from mechanical to business and everything in between.
Of course, True Adventure also provides gear for your own outdoor activities like rock climbing, rappelling, zip-lining, camping, canoeing, and kayaking. They even provide shoes, clothing, and snacks along with guided trips, lessons, and team-building exercises for groups or individuals. To further up your adventure ante, you can even rent scooters to explore local Lookout Mountain attractions, too!

In addition, 20 percent of all True Adventures proceeds goes toward its missions. Contact True Adventure Sports directly at 256-997-9577 or by E-Mail. 

These are just a couple of ways you can explore the great outdoors in the foothills of the Appalachians. It’s summertime in Alabama… get out there and enjoy it before football season begins!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Chick-fil-A opens in Fort Payne!

We have a big week coming up on the south end of Fort Payne this week as two new restaurants will have their Grand Openings! The new Applebee's restaurant is located at 111 Airport Road W in the Dunham's parking lot and is set to open on Monday, July 17th. The new Chick-fil-a restaurant is located at 1824 Glenn Blvd SW (in the old Ryan's location) and will open their doors tomorrow, July 13th. Part of their tradition, that dates back to 2003, is to host a First 100 Camp Out Giveaway the day before where customers can stand in line for the 24 hours prior to opening and the the First 100 participants at the Camp Out on July 12th that meet requirements will receive a grand prize of one Chick-fil-A sandwich meal per week for a year (equating to 52 meals).  So get your cot, sleeping bag and plenty of water to beat this heat and head on over to hold your place in line and hopefully a FREE Chick-fil-A meal for the next 52 weeks!

Each First 100 event is a chance for the local franchise owners and restaurant team members to get to know their new customers. Participation is open to local residents. See link for rules about the giveaway:

The restaurant hours are 6:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 6:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sundays.