Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lots to do right here at home!

The weather has gotten nice, flowers are blooming and grass is growing, uh oh!
 It is time for a Daycation at home. We are blessed to live in the prettiest county in the state and one with lots of great parks and events to enjoy. There is so much to enjoy and participate in here I suggest you come on out and enjoy some great things we have going over the next couple of weeks.
Here are some of those things for this weekend and next:
April 25 – 28 FPHS Seniors Present “Aladdin” The 2013 Class of FPHS will be performing their Senior Class play “Aladdin”.  Performances will be at 7 p.m. Thurs – Sat and a show at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $5 at the FPHS office.  256-845-0535
April 26 Afternoon Rock Climb Come experience first-hand what rock climbing is all about with guides who are fun, safe and energetic. This trip includes all the gear plus basic instruction. No prior climbing experience is needed. Meet at True Adventure Sports. $34 pp. 2 - 6 p.m. 256-997-9577
April 26 Night Zip Line All our zip lines are set up just before the adventure to ford a gorge or cross from one high point to another. Enjoy the thrill of the zip line at night. Pre-registration required at True Adventure Sports by 6 pm the day before the adventure. $50 pp. 7:30 - 9:30 p.m. 256-997-9577
April 27 Master Gardeners Annual Plant Sale This is an event sponsored by the DeKalb County Master Gardeners Club. There will be plants on sale, such as roses, perennials, and more. The sale will be at the VFW Building in Fort Payne. 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
April 27 Blow Your Own Ornament This had become very popular here at Orbix Hot Glass. Come design and blow your own ornament with the help of one of our glass artists. No reservations are needed, it is on a first come, first serve basis. For this we welcome people of all ages (at least 5 years old). 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Cost is $35 per ornament blown 256-523-3188
April 27 Rappelling Adventure Come experience the thrill of rappelling down the sheer sandstone gems of NE Alabama. No previous experience necessary. Each trip includes all the gear plus basic instruction. $37 per person 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 256-997-9577
April 27 Book Signing with Angie Carden Have your cookbook signed by Author Angie Carden. Come and enjoy an afternoon filled with free food from cookbook, a cookbook giveaway, door prizes and fun!  Kamama Gallery in Mentone. 3 p.m. 256-634-3001
April 27 Treasure Hunt Adventure Do you enjoy trying to solve riddles and clues?  Ever wanted to find buried treasure?  Up for new & exciting challenges?  Then our Cave Treasure Hunt is for you.  This 5-hour adventure will take you deep into the heart of Manitou Cave.  You will have to solve and follow each clue in order to find the next one, and ultimately the Treasure!  Are you up for the challenge?  Meet at True Adventure Sports $65 per person 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. 256-997-9577
April 27 – 28 The 5th Annual Mentone Area Art Council Home Tour and Silent Auction The Mentone Area Arts Council (MAAC) will present a two-day fall tour of nine homes and one historic camp in the Cloudland and Mentone area of Lookout Mountain. Guest registration will take place at the Fire Hall in Mentone and tickets good for both days can be purchased for $5 each. Maps listing the locations of the tour stops as well as information on each house will be available with each ticket purchased. The Silent Auction items will be displayed in the Fire Hall and bidding sheets will be available during tour hours. Bidding ends at 4pm Sunday when purchases can be claimed. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. 706-398-0858
April 28 Rappelling with DeSoto State Park  Learn the basics of rappelling with trained PCIA instructors and descend an 80 foot sandstone wall. Learn about basic gear, knot tying, rappelling hardware and its uses in a beautiful location. Meet at DeSoto State Park Lodge at 1pm. Ages 10 and up. $30 pp. 256-845-5075
May 3 Zip Line Adventure All our zip lines are set up just before the adventure to ford a gorge or cross from one high point to another. Pre-registration required at True Adventure Sports by 6 pm the day before the adventure. $50 pp. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. 256-997-9577
May 3 Trion Steel Drum Concert at the Canyon Center This unique ensemble has grown in size and popularity from its humble beginnings. The ensemble is comprised of 31 musicians and performs a wide variety of musical styles, from socas and calypsos to reggae and pop. Little River Canyon Center, 6:30 p.m. $5 adults; 256-845-8548
May 3 Extreme Night Hike This end-of-day adventure does not slow down just because it's dark. Intended for a large group team-building exercise, this hike has a bit of bouldering, some scrambling, some spelunking, and a whole lot of required working together. Headlamp and enthusiastic guide included. Meet at True Adventure Sports. $18pp. 7:30 - 10 p.m. 256-997-9577
May 4- 21st Annual Wildflower Hike Join DeSoto State Park staff & volunteers for a wonderful day of learning about the many species of blooming plants found on Lookout Mountain. DeSoto's trails can vary from fairly flat terrain to slightly steep inclines & rocky ground. Each hike is marked for its difficulty level. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear & bring along water & snacks along on the hikes. Through out the course of the day you will be able to choose from 3 separate hikes during the day, each hike with different leaders.
9:00 a.m.-First Hikes of the day
11:30 a.m. Lunch (on your own)
1:00 p.m. ~ Second Hikes of the day
3:00 p.m. ~Third Hikes of the Day
7:15 p.m.-Plant Presentation-DeSoto’s Nature Center (Next to the Country Store)
Trail Maps, Wildflower Checklists, & trail descriptions can be found at the Lodge, Country Store and Nature Center. All hikes are free to the Public and no registration required! For any inquires contact Brittney Hughes at 256-997-5025.
May 4 Zip Line & Sky Swing Adventure  All our zip lines are set up just before the adventure to ford a gorge or cross from one high point to another. Enjoy the thrill of the swing and zip line. Pre-registration required at True Adventure Sports by 6 pm the day before adventure. $50 pp 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 256-997-9577
May 5 5th Annual Art at the Barn Join us for a spring art sale, featuring works by regional artist and artisans. The festival is located on beautiful Sweet Seasons Farm in Valley Head, one of Alabama's oldest and largest sheep farms. There will be pottery, antiques, jewelry, food and so much more. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 256-635-6791 or 256-996-3400
For more information about DeKalb Calendar of Events and other questions call DeKalb Tourism at 256-845-3957 or visit us at

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Destination Capitol Hill by John Dersham

I spent last week with tourism executives from all around the country who come to Washington D.C. every spring to bring forth the legislative issues that are of interest to our industry. Last week I, along with Alabama tourism partners, visited with all of our US House of Representatives and senators that represent our state at the federal level. These visits help our elected officials understand our issues and why we’d like them to support our legislative issues.
This has become an easy task in hard economic times due to the fact tourism has shown growth even in the worst of economic times. Due to our success there has been a lot more emphasis at the state and federal level, in support of our industry. Our issues are very small in comparison to some of the issues like gun control, immigration, North Korea and the budget that were all being discussed and argued about all week. I think our representatives considered our issues easy and refreshing when compared with everything else. We are the positive news in a rough time.
Our visit to Washington was on behalf of the Southeast Tourism Society and the National Travel Association. I am part of this as a representative of the Policy Council at Southeast Tourism Society and Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. I am honored to play a role in helping Fort Payne and DeKalb County grow via economic development that comes through positive growth oriented legislation. Tourism is our nation’s third largest growth industry, behind two medical services industries. Last year international travel to the US grew by $600 billion and now accounts for $2 Trillion in economic output in the United States.  Tourism in the United States employees 14.6 million people. This growth is aided by the completion of one full year of an international marketing campaign advertising International travel in the USA by Brand USA. People in 18 countries see TV, web and print ads generated under the new international advertising plan. It is the first such international adverting program for tourism since the early 90’s. International travelers come with lots of money and lots of time. They bring us large amounts of tax revenues into our cities and towns. Our National Park system, a favorite among international travelers serves as a gateway to smaller markets. This is true of our area. Little River Canyon is getting international Visitors and in turn our local economy gets lodging, retail and restaurant sales, attractions and museums are visited and our entire community benefits from the increased tax revenues. We are fortunate locally that we are a destination that both domestic and international visitors enjoy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Finally It's Spring by John Dersham

Yes, we had a mild winter but what happened in March? In looking at pictures I took last March 15th our Cherry trees were almost done blooming. This year mine are just working toward full bloom.  Last year was an unusually warm early spring and this year is later than normal…but I do believe that beloved spring has finally arrived. It is time to pull off the long sleeves and get out there in the wonderful warm air and enjoy yourself in our little niche of paradise here in northeast Alabama. We are so fortunate to have the influence of the Appalachian Mountain chain that with it comes a diverse culture of beautiful spring blooming trees and shrubs, that are native to our area like Dogwood Black Cherry, Silverberry, Rhododendron , Mountain Laurel, wild Azalea and too many more to name. Sometimes we take these things for granted but if you go much further south or west you will not find these beautiful plants as natives.
My suggestion is enjoy our gifts and take a Daycation or two here in DeKalb County. Our scenic drives are everywhere and our parks and public attractions are scattered all over the county. How about a picnic at DeSoto State Park? You can play on the playground, hike the trails and look at the wonderful 104 foot waterfall. How about a little fishing and picnicking or camping at DeKalb County Lake in Sylvania, or a trip to Bucks Pocket or High Falls parks? There is the beautiful canyon rim drive and picnic and hiking at Little River Canyon N.P. If you like beautiful scenery combined with a breathtaking cave experience then you need a trip to Sequoyah Caverns. It is a great time to go to Collinsville Trade Day each Saturday, or go on a flea market excursion on Sand Mountain. All of our towns and cities have great locally owned second hand stores. It is fun to spend a day just milling around through these shops. You can visit antique stores like the S House Antiques, The Strand, Goosie’s, Myrtle Jane’s, The Classy Flea, Vintage Green and The Old Big Mill in Fort Payne.
Don’t let spring pass you by without getting out an enjoying the very county you live in. You will not find prettier scenery anywhere you choose to travel than right here at home.
For more information about things to do and places to go in our own back yard, please contact us at DeKalb Tourism at 256-845-3957 or visit our website at