Thursday, October 27, 2011

DeKalb County in full fall splendor by John Dersham

I think we have the most beautiful fall foliage each year of any county in Alabama. There is a reason for this. These reasons are comprised of geography, climate, soil conditions and the types of trees that grow here. There is a lot of misunderstanding about what makes fall color and when it occurs. According to the United States Department of Agriculture fall color begins and is accentuated by cool nights and sunny days.

Why Are Some Autumns More Colorful?

Temperature and moisture greatly influence autumn color. Since each of these varies greatly, no two autumns are ever alike. A succession of warm, sunny days and cool, but not freezing nights seems to bring about the most spectacular color displays. Since carotenoids are always present in leaves, yellow and gold colors are fairly constant from year to year. In order for the brilliant scarlet, purple and crimson colors to develop, bright sunlight in the early fall is needed. Bright sunny days increase food production in trees and plants. These sugars are trapped in the leaves spurring the production of anthocyanin pigments, providing the red tints to fall foliage.

The amount of moisture in the soil also affects autumn color. A late spring, or a severe summer drought, can delay the onset of fall color by a few weeks. A warm period during fall lowers the intensity of autumn color. Trees defoliated by insects during the growing season may also show less fall color.

In DeKalb County we are blessed by being part of the Cumberland Plateau and belonging to the Appalachian foothills. This gives us our wonderful mountains and valleys but also gives us the wide variety of acid loving plant species associated with the Appalachian Mountains. This area predominately a deciduous hardwood area helps account for our beautiful fall color, as does the particular tree species in abundance here which include some our most colorful trees in the fall.

Our most colorful trees in fall:
Southern Red Maples (Red, yellow or orange in fall)
Sugar Maples (Orange-Red)
Black Tupelo/Black Gum (red-crimson)
Sweet Gum (yellow to purple)
Hickories (yellow)
White Oak (brown to purple)
Chestnut Oak (Yellow)
Dogwood (reddish purple)
Sourwood (crimson)
Post Oaks, Black Oaks, other Oaks (brown to yellow)

Many tourists start visiting us in early and mid October thinking they are hitting the peak of fall color. Records show that in the last fifteen years the peak of color has happened in early to mid November in our region. At DeKalb Tourism we get many phone calls and emails from tourists checking in advance so they time their trips here to match the fall foliage. The State of Alabama keeps a color tracker on their website in the fall to help tourist plan their trips. We use that to help assist our customers.

Beautiful fall drives:
*Little River Canyon-Canyon rim drive
*Lookout Mountain Parkway/DeSoto Parkway from Dogtown to Mentone
*The trails at DeSoto State Park
*Bucks Pocket State Park
*High Falls Park

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Eddie’s Winter Wonderland By Kayla Worthey

Christmas is one of my absolute favorite holidays! There is just something about Christmas traditions, spending time with family, our elf on the shelf, and delicious homemade foods; mamaw’s mashed potatoes, grandmother’s mac-n-cheese, auntie’s green beans, nana’s cookies and mom’s turkey and stuffing. One of my favorite Christmas traditions has become Christmas at Eddie’s! I have 10 Christmas trees inside my house that we decorate every year, each with their own theme. We have our formal tree, our family tree, Kowen’s tree, Kinsley’s tree, our Alabama tree (don’t hate me Auburn fans!), our hunting/fishing tree, and 4 small tabletop trees for the bathrooms! Each year we add at least one ornament to each tree, and this year was no different! This past weekend the Open House kicked off the holiday season at Eddie’s.
If you have ever been to a store that sells ornaments, they usually have them arranged in sections hanging on the wall or on racks. Well not at Eddie’s! Eddie has a special way of getting you in the Holiday spirit!
He runs a florist/nursery for most of the year that transforms into the most amazing Winter Wonderland I have ever witnessed. There are over 140 trees on display, each decorated exquisitely with their own theme. You will find ornaments ranging from western to whimsical, cartoons to retro, Victorian to collegiate – there is truly something for everyone. Eddie and his amazing entourage have decorated each tree with a stylish brilliance. As you enter the building, you will be greeted by the friendly staff and handed an empty basket, for your convenience, of course! My daughter happily took the role of basket holder.
You can stroll through each room and shop at your leisure. The rooms themselves are an amazing sight, decorated with props and insane artistic talent. Choose ornaments from the trees, from baskets scattered about, from the walls, or wherever you may find them. Decorations can be taken from the walls or mantels. Everything is for sale! It almost feels wrong to ruin their beautiful displays, but don’t feel bad, all the empty space you leave only creates a clear canvas for these artists to express their talents all over again. If you need assistance with an item, someone will be nearby to help.
If you need decorating ideas or inspiration, trust me, this is the place to get it! Visit Monday through Saturday from 8am to 5pm and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm in Henagar at 9112 Alabama Hwy 40.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It is Time for Some Fall Fun by John Dersham

Here in DeKalb County Fall is a favorite time of the year for many tourists visiting our area. Many people come here for our fall foliage from the Gulf Coast and from the Coastal Plains where they are not as fortunate as we when it comes to fall color. Beginning now through Thanksgiving we will have many tourists spending time with us to enjoy our beautiful scenery and rich color.
There is a lot for our tourists to enjoy hare and equally as much for our local residents.
This weekend is our annual Colorfest in Mentone. This will be the biggest and greatest Colorfest in many years, as planners have really ramped up to provide the best artists, music, food and activities. There are more events than ever. It all starts on Friday evening and runs through Sunday at 5:00 pm. Leah Seawright with legendary former Alabama drummer Mark Herndon will perform Saturday night. For more information about this event you can contact DeKalb Tourism at 256-845-3957. In addition we have a brochure you can pick up at our information center at 1503 Glenn Blvd S.W in Fort Payne. This year’s Colorfest is a joint effort of MAPA (Mentone Area Preservation Assoc) and MAAC (Mentone Area Arts Council). Come out and enjoy fall at Colorfest.
For those of you who love family activities that revolve around the fall season we have two great places in DeKalb County for you to take your family this season. One is on Lookout Mountain at Dogtown and the other is on Sand Mountain in Rainsville.
Awe Shucks in Dogtown has opened its door for its first year. They are located on the Lookout Mountain Parkway (Dogtown Rd.). This Saturday Awe Shucks is having a craft fair starting at 10am, with several different venders, so come out and get some gifts, take a hay ride to get a pumpkin, see if you can find all the check points in the corn maze (Each check point has a different reward from local businesses) and have some fun with the family. Awe Shucks offers a beautiful pick your own pumpkin patch and a cornmaze. They offer the following fun things to do; 4.6 acre corn- maze, a country store, pumpkin painting, kid’s corner with games and a fun little train to drive the kids around. They also offer fire pits for rent and Smore kits for sale. Check Awe Shucks Facebook page to find hours of operation and upcoming events. For more information call 256-996-4657.
On Sand Mountain we have Down on the Farm. This is a wonderful place to take your school or church classes. Down on the Farm is another wonderful place to spend the day with your family. It offers pumpkin picking, a corn maze, hay rides, pumpkin painting, a goat walk, kids play area and a cow train. There is a snack bar and petting zoo. There are many other things to do here too. For more information about times, events, pricing and other activities visit or call 256-638-6200.
I highly recommend that you take your kids or grandkids to either one of these great and fun places this fall. You will be pleased and the kids will have a great time.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here is what Tourism provides to DeKalb County by John Dersham

On September 22nd my staff and I attended the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association annual meeting. We are members and I am currently on their board and am presiding as Co-Chair for these next two years.
At our meeting we had as our guest speaker, Dr. Steve Morse from the University Of Tennessee (no bad words please). Dr. Morse is an Economist for the university with his specialty being Tourism. He came equipped with the economic impact numbers for each of North Alabama’s sixteen counties. It is very impressive to see how big tourism is to the income of Alabama. In fact, Tourism is the largest non-agricultural business in the state. Tourists last year spent nearly 94 billion dollars in Alabama and 171,000 people make all of or most of their living in tourism.
DeKalb County generated 62 million dollars in spending by tourists in the county last year. We have 1,000 full time tourism employees and 400 part time. Tourism generated $16,150 per day in tax revenue to the county and to local municipalities. DeKalb County tourists provided $9,358 to the state daily. In 2010 DeKalb County had 29,390 households. If every household in DeKalb County had to pay extra income taxes because there were no tourists, it would mean every house hold in DeKalb County would have to pay $201 more per year. Tourism is a clean industry whose jobs cannot be outsourced to another country. It does not require infrastructure to have tourists. No garbage collection, no schools and very little direct repair costs are caused by tourists.
Tourists are people who come from outside of our local economy and spend their money that was earned elsewhere, in our local economy on their visits. In recent years, as the rest of the economy has declined tourism has helped rescue the bad economy. People still travel. They need a break and a change of scenery and we are a tank of gas here and back for eleven million people. Tourism has become a favorite topic among federal, state and local governments as more effort is being placed nationwide to grow the economy through tourism.