Thursday, August 27, 2009

Big Things are Happening in Fort Payne and Fyffe by John Dersham

This weekend is the opening of our highly anticipated Smithsonian Exhibit called New Harmonies. New Harmonies will be held at Richard C. Hunt Reception Hall from Saturday August 29 through Saturday September 19, with it’s conclusion in conjunction with our Boom Days Heritage Celebration. Admission is free.

The DeKalb County Tourist Association is running a series of television commercials about New Harmonies and Boom Days. They will run on Comcast’s entire cable network throughout North Alabama and Southern Tennessee. The commercial will be aired 386 times on the following channels; CNN, Fox News, the Travel Channel, Discovery, TNT, USA, The Golf Channel and Animal Planet. In addition we will have a 10 minute infomercial on Comcast’s long play channel. These commercials will begin on September 3 and air through September 19. Our objective is to bring an increased number of out of town guests to New Harmonies and to Boom Days. We are promoting these events in a way that will encourage tourists to spend several days with us to see the sights of our area including New Harmonies and Boom Days. Our strategy is to grow our attendance at our festivals and at the same time grow sales to area attractions, accommodations, retail and to restaurants.

New Harmonies is a wonderful exhibit. I drove down to Chatom Alabama a few weeks ago to photograph the exhibit in order to make our commercial. New Harmonies is a must see for all of us. It is a celebration of American’s musical roots including an exhibit of DeKalb County’s rich musical heritage and culture. To enhance the total offerings of New Harmonies and Boom Days there will be a series of musical events and concerts nearly every day from this Saturday through the end of Boom Days on Saturday September 19.

A tremendous amount of planning and strategizing has gone into making New Harmonies and Boom Days an unbelievably wonderful and rewarding three weeks of music, education and fun for the whole family. Russell Gulley (Big Wills Arts Council) and Collins Kirby (Boom Days Heritage Celebration) and their committees have done a wonderful job at filling the schedule with quality events and at the same time bringing a real sense of community spirit and volunteerism that will help make this a wonderful three weeks in our community and in our county.

A brochure with all the dates and events for New Harmonies and Boom Days is available at the DeKalb County Tourist Association 845-3957 or the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce 845-3957. A majority of these events are FREE to the public.

Fyffe UFO Days is this Friday and Saturday. This event was spawned from international media coverage pertaining to hundreds of reported UFO sightings in Fyffe in earl y 1989. There will be fun for the whole family beginning Friday morning with the lift off of hot air balloons. The event will have live music both days with Billy Joe Royal as the featured performer on Saturday night at 8pm. Additional events will include a civil war reenactment, a tractor show, The 501st Legion Star Wars Storm Troopers costumers and lots of street vendors for gifts and food. For more information call the DeKalb County Tourist Association at 845-3957.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Great Community Spirit by John Dersham

There are many things that contribute to making Fort Payne a very special city. We are a city of wonderful community spirit and unity. I have found the people of our town work together with a wonderful sense of caring about each other and share a genuine concern for our town, and our county. This can easily be seen in the multitude of civic and social organizations that thrive in Fort Payne. Considering our relatively small size we have unusually well developed long term community organizations that have been in existence for many years. In my position as Director of Tourism I have had the opportunity to be the guest speaker from time to time at our local organizations. I always come away from these meetings so very impressed with the sincere effort each of these organizations and their individual members make toward the humanities. I also find this community spirit to exist in our city and county government and in this newspaper. It is a blessing to work with city and county leaders who are focused on maintaining and improving the quality of life for everyone. I have found a genuine concern for our citizens is the norm in our community and not the exception. Every where I go I find people are guided by strong deeply rooted religious, moral and ethical values. The presence of these things has become the foundation of our outstanding quality of life. We are blessed with the happiest friendliest people you will find anywhere. This fine attitude emanates from our rich religious and cultural background. For those of you who are new to our area or are not familiar, here are a few of our local organizations of which you may want to inquire; The Rotary Club, The Lions Club, The Kiwanis Club, The Master Gardeners, Fort Payne Garden Club, The Culture Club, Landmarks (history), Big Wills Arts Council, Mentone Area Arts Council, Altrusa International, DeKalb County Amateur Radio Club, DeKalb County Council of the Alabama Homemakers and Community Leaders Club and Duos and Solos Square Dancing. Many of our other DeKalb County towns have excellent civic organizations and clubs. For more information about these or others you can call the DeKalb County Tourist Association at 845-3957.

More Community Spirit:

The DeKalb County Tourist Association has been honored by receiving a beautiful landscaping job by Lee Buffington at Turf Tamer and a host of volunteers and donors whom provided this beautiful new look under a community project called Project Green Shape. Many, many thanks to all involved. I also want to thank the Master Gardeners and the DeKalb County Commission for our gardens and the maintenance of our property.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

“I Drove, I Stopped, I Shopped Till I Dropped” by John Dersham

World’s Longest Yard Sale

America’s most scenic shopping mall begins its 23rd annual event Thursday, August 6th and runs through Sunday, August 9th. This year the yard sale covers 654 miles from Gadsden, Alabama to West Unity, Ohio.
The World’s Longest Yard Sale has become more than a place to shop for that special item you could not find anywhere else…it has become an annual vacation for thousands of people who flock to various parts of the yard sale. They shop, they visit state and national parks, they camp, they stay in hotels/motels, B&B’s or cabins. They visit attractions along the way, they eat and buy gas. All of these things add tax revenue to our local economy. This year we expect more than 30,000 visitors will participate in DeKalb County. Governor Bob Riley has named the yard sale one of Alabama’s top ten events. HGTV runs an annual TV show about the WLYS and Jay Leno included a clip on The Tonight Show.
During our economic downturn more people are using this event as a vacation. They are taking an extra day or two before or after the yard sale to see the sights. During our recession second hand merchandise has been the only retail category showing substantial growth.
The DeKalb County Tourist Association receives more requests for information pertaining to the WLYS than any other event held in our county each year. Everyday, all year long we get phone calls and internet inquires from people nationwide and from all over the world requesting information. In addition to the requests for information coming directly to us through our marketing, we are linked to the official WLYS website and get many requests for information via that source.
Our portion of the yard sale is very, very popular due to our total travel experience. People wanting to make this a scenic get-a-way love our area. The DeKalb County portion of the yard sales runs across Lookout Mountain (Scenic) Parkway. The Lookout Mountain Parkway has received national recognition in National Geographic Traveler and Reader’s Digest Magazines as one of America’s best scenic byways. We have Little River Canyon National Preserve, DeSoto State Park and falls, the city of Fort Payne and Mentone as places to visit; tourists can spend the night and eat without getting far from the parkway. Many tourists tell us they enjoy our area the most because we offer great value. Our prices for accommodations and food are under the national average and we are an easy drive for more than 11 million people living within a 200 mile radius of DeKalb County. DeKalb County offers a great mix of attractions and things to do along the way.
If you have not participated in this event I encourage you to get out and enjoy yourself. You will find food vendors, restaurants and portable toilets along the way all to help make your search for treasures more comfortable.