Friday, August 28, 2015

Fun from now through September by John Dersham

Pre fall is always a super big time in DeKalb County. Now that school has started and gradually the weather will be shifting toward cooler temperatures and brightly colored leaves. Oh, but wait a minute, technically fall is not here until September 20th so I will discuss our late summer pre fall festivals and events which are plentiful enough that fall events will be a separate column, later.
Our first event is this Saturday, August 29 with the 11th annual Fyffe UFO Day. This event named after police got more than 200 calls from the Fyffe area in 1978 claiming they saw a UFO. The UFO Day festival celebrates that day with a full day of music (multiple acts), food, vendors, and inflatable bouncy events for the kids, an antique tractor show, arts and crafts and lots of alien looking balloons and characters scattered over the grounds of the Fyffe City Park. It all starts early Saturday with hot air balloons rides, call to make an appointment at 256-461-8612 and see more details about Fyffe UFO day on their Facebook page.
On this same day August 29th at 6:00 P.M at the Tom Bevil Lyceum you will not want to miss Music on the Mountain with performances  by Norman Blake and Jimmy Forture. Tickets are $15 each. Call 256-638-4418 ext 2248 for info.
Next up on the “you can’t miss it” list is the annual Ider Mule Day held each Labor Day (September 7) at Ider City Park. This timeless event fills your palette with mules, horses, inflatable’s for the kids, food, arts and crafts vendors, and Mule Pulls in the event arena. This event is always fun for the whole family. For more information see the Ider Mule Day Facebook page.
Boom comes the Alabama event of the year.  Fort Payne Boom Days Heritage Celebration concluding on Saturday, September 19 with a day of fun, great artists, and more than 20 music acts all day and night. Delbert Mclinton will perform a free concert at the Rotary Pavilion; Katie Sunshine the Hula Hoop performer will be back. To see everything going on all week, visit Boom Days on Facebook for all the artists’ scoops, times and details.
On September 25 and 26 you will want to attend the Collinsville Quilt Walk. This event each year celebrates the art of quilt making at its finest. Downtown Collinsville will feature quilts at multiple locations for you to enjoy walking around town to see and enjoy.
Fair time! Fair time! The 59th annual DeKalb County VFW Agricultural Fair comes to town on September 28th through October 3rd. This event is a classic well attended event each year. Visitors come from all over the region to enjoy the best county fair anywhere around. Almost every year this fair is award winning. Our fair hosts the best array of agricultural animal events including demonstrations and contests and inside the fair demonstration hall is a collection of the best produce and flowers the summer could grow. From jams and jellies to pickled everything to giant pumpkins, ears of corn, okra, tomatoes and squash the fair has a showing and a contest to celebrate the best in class. If you are an artist instead you can enter art or photography for your prize. Our fair is the best agricultural fair going and yes we have the midway too for all the fun rides and  laughs with all your friends and family.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I love Fort Payne by John Dersham

Wow! We have so many good projects in the works here in Fort Payne. Those include: Main Street Fort Payne, the Lookout Mountain Gateway Trial, and the Shugarts One World Adventure restoration of the Beck Building into the Beck Discovery Center. Every one of these helps us redevelop our downtown area and also each will increase tourism to the area. Tourists love revived downtowns because they like to visit a town and find local mom and pop businesses that they won't find anywhere else. They like to visit the things that will make Fort Payne different from every other town. They like boutique shopping, art and craft oriented stores, restaurants/bars, brew pubs, antiques, walking and biking trails, parks and the list goes on. If you visit some of the towns successful and redevelopment through becoming a Main Street community or via other means you will find a great mix of tourists mixed in with the locals that are fueling the economy of these revived downtowns. This redevelopment of our downtown is economic development at its best, jobs will be created and more dollars will be spent locally by residents and by tourists. All of this money provides an increase in tax revenue collected by our city. This growth will provide the city and county more money to do more things that will help our city and in fact will help provide revenue for the entire county as visitors come and spread the money at our attractions and local venues and eating and shopping throughout our entire area.
Last Saturday, my wife, Kyle, our granddaughters, Tristan and Aris, and I attended Third Saturday Sunset in Fort Payne. We almost always go to this. I think we have missed only once this year. As I was walking around downtown enjoying myself, I was thinking how fortunate we are to have such a wonderful homey town to hold events like this. Everywhere we walked we ran into friends. My 9th grade granddaughter, Tristan, saw some high school friends to talk to and hang out with. The girls played games at The Spot, we looked at a large array of classic cars, we listened to Leah Seawright perform, we shopped in the stores, we played in the park. My six year old granddaughter, Aris, just learned to swing without being pushed and now she can't stop swinging. You remember that feeling of freedom as the breeze blows in your face as you swing up and down feeling the thrill. Oh my, if we could just keep that feeling as adults that we had when so much of what we did and experienced was for the first time. I guess it is the repetition in life that takes some of that sparkle away. None the less, we as a family really enjoy Third Saturday events. They are fun, but also evoke an enjoyment of thinking about our future in Fort Payne, which is getting more and more exciting and giving us more and more to look forward to.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fort Payne- Main Street Alabama by John Dersham

Main Street Alabama will be in Fort Payne to host three days of interviews with a variety of people from every aspect of our community. We need everyone’s feedback as we begin the process of becoming a Main Street Alabama Community. We are honored to have been one of the three cities selected to begin this process this year. A special thanks to Lynn Brewer, Connie Fuller, Amy Johnson and Randy Grider for attending the required application seminar to officially enter our application to become a Main Street Alabama city. If you have a chance to visit other Main Street Alabama towns you will see what the Main Street organization will do to help us redevelop our original downtown historic area. The basic coverage area will be from 3rd street south to 8th street north. The idea is to dress up, repair and restore our historic downtown area to a thriving, bustling downtown again. Included  will be a signage and marketing program, there will be an increased diversity of businesses downtown with downtown housing and lots of boutique shopping experiences, restaurants, art galleries, art and hobby retail, entertainment venues. The idea of Main Street is to get all downtown buildings occupied and healthy. Paint, roof repair, mortar repair, landscaping and beautification projects are all a part of becoming a Main Street Community. If you visit Decatur, Florence, Gadsden, Opelika, Auburn, Fairhope and others you will see the results. These downtown areas are thriving again and they are fun and beautiful to the eye. Fort Payne provides the perfect setting for this process. We have a lot of historic buildings, great downtown parks, an original railroad depot all surrounding by attractive settings with a great view of Lookout Mountain. The Main Street Alabama staff told us, “You have the perfect Main Street setting”. We knew that all along, now we have a formal nationwide organization that has years of experience and a fantastic credible, highly professional template for us to follow from start to finish. For a small annual fee we will get years of expertise and a very elaborate set of plans to make all of this happen in Fort Payne. This is economic development at its best. It means jobs, new retail dollars coming in, rents being paid, more shoppers, more tourists, more places to eat. It also means no empty stores between each other. For the city of Fort Payne, it means new tax revenue coming in because more people are here, buying more and paying more taxes. It is a win, win situation but it takes all us to help make it successful.
On Tuesday evening August 11th at the Iron and Coal building from 5-8 P.M.  We want your ideas, your visions for downtown and we want to know what you think. We are all in this together to revitalize our downtown area. On Thursday, August 13th from 4:30 thru 6:00 P.M., the Main Street Alabama resource team will deliver a public presentation at the DeKalb Theater concerning their initial findings and recommendations. You will not want to miss either event.
During the process of our three day Main Street planning session Main Street Alabama will be interviewing people for all sectors of our business community including: retailers, bankers, realtors, city officials elected and employed, county officials and employees, our legislators, attorneys, clergy, economic development, tourism, chamber historic societies, museums and residents. It is our goal to give everyone a voice in this process. To do this successfully we need you to come and be a part of it. Please come Tuesday, August 11th at 5 P.M. to the Iron and Coal building. We look forward to seeing you there.