Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fairs, Festivals and Tourism in DeKalb by John Dersham

Fairs, Festivals and Tourism in DeKalb

This week is the 55th annual DeKalb County VFW Agricultural Fair. This is an extremely well attended event each year in DeKalb County, and rightfully so. This fair is not your ordinary county fair thanks to a lot of hard work from Charles Stephens (Fair Chairman) and all the volunteers and members of the local VFW Post. The thing that separates our fair from other county fairs is the abundance of true leadership from volunteers and local clubs whom are well organized. These organizations provide us great exhibits like; the flower show, bakery show, vegetable show and canned products show. Then there is the 4-H club and all of its animal entries, demonstrations, competitions, all of which add animals to the visitor’s plethora of things to do and see at the fair. If you are an artist then you can enter and show your art or photography. There is a tractor show and on Friday and Saturday nights there is live music. All of this is in addition to the great midway games, food and rides.

The next big event after the Fair (not counting the fact Football is a weekly big event) is the Colorfest in Mentone on October 16-17. This festival is one of our local favorites bringing many local people to it, but it also attracts many out of towners who plan their fall trips here based on this wonderful weekend of fun activities. This same weekend we have the 1st Annual Alabama Thunder Bikers Festival and Concert in Dogtown. There will be live music from Adam Tomlin Band, Jonathon Alverson & The Hillbilly Circus Band, Cool Hand Luke and more. Tickets for the three day event are $30.00. It will be located at North South Cycles- 665 County Rd 251 off Jennings Rd.

DeKalb Tourism summer review:
This was a good summer for DeKalb Tourism. We started the summer with radio advertising all across the gulf during the oil spill. Our ad did not mention the disaster but was an invitation to come spend some time with us in the mountains and valleys of DeKalb County. We talked about our scenic attributes, our places to stay and things to do and see. Year to date we are up compared to last year by 10%. This is a great contribution to our local economy in a time when the economy continues to struggle. Tourism is a clean industry that brings in tax revenue without the built in cost of supporting a full time resident. In talking to other tourism organizations our growth is well above average for the year. Additional advertising included TV ads on 33/40 in Birmingham and on Comcast in North AL and TN. We continue to use some newspaper and magazine ads in addition to our heavy use of the internet and social media sites. Our new fiscal year begins in October and we will have the added advantage of having the new N.E Agri Center events added into our portfolio of offerings here in DeKalb County.
For more information on events in DeKalb County contact the DeKalb County Tourist Association at 256-845-3957 or view us at

Friday, September 17, 2010

All New Tourism for DeKalb County

On Sunday my wife and I went to the ribbon cutting ceremony at the all new Northeast Agri Business Center in Rainsville. This facility is something we can all be very proud of and promises to be the beginning of some all new entertainment for us, but will also provide an all new source of tourism to the county and a new source of revenue for our cities and towns.
In looking at the history of tourism in DeKalb County we have been a leisure tourism destination for more than 100 years. Our first tourists came to beat the summer heat from Birmingham and other places where the mountains provided a little relief. The Mentone Springs Hotel opened in 1884 to accommodate tourists coming to the Inn’s healing springs. In the 20’s came the Mentone Inn. We had summer camps opening, and cabins being built as second homes. Other early attractions were Sequoyah Caverns and Cloudmont Golf and Ski Resort and Shady Grove Dude Ranch. In 1939 DeSoto State Park opened its doors to camping and cabins and a little later the lodge. On Sand Mountain, Buck’s Pocket became a state park in the 60’s. Later came the group Alabama. They have been a tourist attraction for three decades now. In the early 90’s Little River Canyon became a National Preserve. In recent years many more rental cabins, B&B’s and hotels have been added to our area. We’ve added some fun county festivals along the way in many of our towns to attract tourists and locals to a day or two of special entertainment. Throughout all this time DeKalb County has remained primarily a leisure tourism county using our scenic beauty and friendly fun small towns as our draw.
It is only now that we have a new tourism draw that is event based. The new Northeast Agri Business Center in Rainsville is a state of the art Agri Center that will be attracting a wide variety of one, two and three day events. All of these have a regional scope and are sure to attract overnight visitors from all over our southeast region. Many of these events will take place at night leaving visitors the daytime hours to eat, shop, tour our attractions, parks, towns, museums and all will add dollars to our local economy. Many of the tourists coming to these events will be new visitors to DeKalb County. It is our desire to show our visitors the upmost in southern hospitality so when they go home they will tell their friends about us and from that we will continue to grow. It is very exciting that in these difficult economic times we are getting this wonderful uplifting boost to our economy. To learn more about the new Northeast Agri Business Center visit their website at

John Dersham

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

From Mule Day to Boom Days by John Dersham

From Mule Day to Boom Days

Monday my family and I attended our fifth Ider Mule Day in a row. We love this annual festival. This year we had the perfect weather and the attendance was outstanding. We love the traditional rural events like the Mule and Horse Pulls. We like looking at the classic tractors and walking around seeing all the animals that are in the parade then go into the festival to compete in various shows. It is fun to see the covered wagons and the classic cars. My granddaughters love the animals too, but they especially like to play in the amusement area.
Our next big event in DeKalb County begins this evening with the Willstown Conference. Make your plans now to attend as many of these fantastic events as you can at this year’s Boom Days Heritage Celebration. For more information check out or view the DeKalb County Tourist Association’s website at
BOOM DAYS 2010 – Event List
Dates, times, events and participants are subject to change.
Thursday, Sept. 9
Willstown Conference – City Hall Auditorium / 7:00 pm - Willstown Conference
Saturday, Sept. 11
First Federal Country Music Show - DeKalb Theatre / 8:00 pm
Leah Seawright
Sunday, Sept. 12
WZOB Joe Underwood Gospel Concert – City Hall Auditorium / 3:00 pm
Monday, Sept. 13 thru Friday, Sept. 17
Pap Baxter Singing School – Opera House / 6:00 pm
Thursday, Sept. 16
Mayor's Cup Golf Tournament – DeSoto Golf Course / 9:00 am
Times-Journal Keynote Concert – City Hall Auditorium / 8:00 pm
Rodney Dillard & The Dillard Band
Hannah Martin Scholarship 5K Run – First Methodist Church Parking Lot / 8:00 am
Pancake Breakfast – City Park Parking Lot / 7:00 am – 11:00 am - Pancakes! Yum!
Bud Light Wheels of Time Car Show – Alabama Park Parking Lot / 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
SPCA Pet Parade – Depot Museum Parking Lot / 10:00 am
101.7 The Storm Theatre Courtyard Stage – DeKalb Theatre Courtyard / 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Southern Vogue
Mike Cooley
Terry Hutcheson
D-C Gas Barbecue Bash – Alabama Park / 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
WQSB Alabama Park Stage – 11:30 am – 3:30 pm
Rock Candy Band
Gildan City Park Art Show - 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Lisa Opielinski - Lisa O., Artist
Jimmy Frazier
Frederic Payet - Payet Art
Athlone Clarke - About Athlone
Fleetwood Covington - Fleetwood Covington
Kenny “The Tin Man” Hoff - The Tin Man Art
Lydia Randolph - Lydia Randolph
Andrei Palmer - Andrei's Artistic Automobiles
Will Henry Cobble - Will Henry Cobble
Katie Bird Cobble - Katie Bird Cobble
Gee’s Bend Quilters - Quilts of Gee's Bend
Mae Gray - Mae Gray Pottery
Mike Miller
Randy Cochran - Wood Studio
Robert Frito Seven - Robert Frito Seven
Cal Breed - Orbix Hot Glass
Walter Howell - Walter Howell
Terry Hale - Hale Fire Glass
Kimberly Dawn Clayton - Kimberly Dawn Clayton
Lenton Williams - Lenton Williams
Mighty Fine Art Assault Team - Tommy Moorehead
Charles McFarland - Art Sculptures By Charles
Verizon Wireless City Park Stage – City Park - 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Dean Mitchell
Daddy Grant & the Williams Brothers
Un-reconstructed - Un-Reconstructed
Smoky Greenwell & Mark Penton
Pierce Pettis & Grace Pettis - Pierce Pettis & Grace Pettis
Sacred Harp Singers - Sacred Harp Singers
The New Binkley Brothers
Depot Museum Exhibits - 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Hosiery Museum Exhibits - 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Landmarks of DeKalb Book Sale – Hosiery Museum / 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Quilt Exhibit – Richard C. Hunt Hall / 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Devan Lowe Downtown Stage – 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Asbury Methodist Praise Band
Dewey Wayne - Dewey Wayne
J.M. Van Eaton & The Rockin’ Sunabillys - J.M. Van Eaton
Johnny Neel & Criminal Element - Johnny Neel & Criminal Element
Blackberry Smoke
Holiday Inn Express Children’s Activity Center – City Park / 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
WFPA Food Court - 4th St. NE Parking Lot / 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
WoodMasters Opera Block Stage – Gault Ave. @ 5th St. NE / 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
The New Binkley Brothers
Terry Hutcheson
Mike Cooley
Fleetwood Covington
Kyle Langley
Corvette Show – Gault Ave. @ 3rd St. NE / 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Westmoreland Tire Carriage Rides - Downtown District / 12:00 noon - 6:00 pm
FPFD Fire Simulator / Ladder Truck - 400 Block / 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Pap Baxter Heritage Gospel Singing – Opera House / 6:00 pm
Fort Payne Cinemas Rock & Roll Show - DeKalb Theatre / 8:30 pm
The Handlers
Anders Osborne