If you own a business or restaurant in Alabama you may want to contact the Alabama Department of Tourism to see how you can participate in their Year of Food 2012 Celebration Events. Your local CVB, Chamber of Commerce, and the Alabama Department of Tourism are great partners for you to associate with.
The Alabama Tourism Department will kick off its 2012 campaign, The Year of Alabama Food, on January 27, during the FoodBlogSouth event in Birmingham. The event is a conference for food writers, bloggers and photographers. The website, www.yearofalabamfood.com, launched Monday.
The tourism campaign will focus on award-winning chefs, farm-to-table, fresh gulf seafood and popular foods grown or made in Alabama. Some of the local food includes Belle Chevre Cheese from Elkmont, Conecuh sausage, Slocomb tomatoes and Dothan peanuts. This is the second food campaign by the tourism department, the first was in 2005 and received the award for best state tourism marketing campaign by the National Council of State Tourism Directors.
As part of the year of food, the tourism department will hold a statewide “Restaurant Week” August 17-26 during which locally owned and operated restaurants will be able to showcase their dishes by offering meals at a discount.
Tourism will also promote nearly 400 food festivals across the state and will create a new BBQ Trail, in addition to an updated “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die” brochure.
“Food is popular with everyone and it has been one of our most successful campaigns. It was time to bring it back, but this time we want to highlight local food and our great chefs,” said tourism director Lee Sentell. “We have several new things planned for 2012 that we feel will showcase the best in food that Alabama has to offer.”
Food Festivals in the Alabama Calendar of Events
Visitors wishing to discover the local flavor of Sweet Home Alabama are invited to enjoy any of the more than 375 annual food festivals and events hosted by cities and towns across the state. Moon pies and mayhem set the stage for Mobile’s Mardi Gras celebration in February. Moulton celebrates the state’s agricultural heritage during the Chicken and Egg Festival in April. A smorgasbord of Southern goodness awaits visitors during the Slocomb Tomato Festival in June and the Russellville Watermelon Festival in August.
In September, Pinson hosts the Butterbean Festival and Tuskegee pays homage to scientist George Washington Carver during the Carver Sweet Potato Festival in October. The Break’N Bread/ Birmingham Food & Wine Festival is at Pepper Place Railroad Park in October. The National Shrimp Festival is held each October on the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores, and a barbecue competition highlights the Christmas on the River celebration in Demopolis in December. A complete list of 2012 food festivals and other events can be found online by visiting www.alabama.travel. They will also be featured in the printed 2012 Alabama Calendar of Events available at the state’s eight welcome centers.
Celebrate Alabama Chefs and Award-Winning Restaurants
Travelers can discover the best in fine dining and country cooking restaurants in the South when they visit Chef Frank Stitt’s Highlands Bar and Grill and Chris and Idie Hastings’ Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Martin’s Restaurant in Montgomery, Arricia Italian Trattoria & Bar in Auburn, and True in Mobile, which is owned and operated by renowned Chef Wesley True. Learn how Lucy Buffett, owner of Lulu’s in Gulf Shores, and other restaurateurs around the state are bringing the farm to the table to enhance your dining experience.
The popular “100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die” brochure is being updated to include fresh menu selections and great local culinary destinations not previously featured. “We are excited about spotlighting lesser-known restaurants while continuing to showcase Southern classics, such as The Bright Star in Bessemer, named an American Classic by the James Beard Award Foundation,” said Sentell.
Tourism will also create a new BBQ Trail brochure that will list restaurants, joints and local chains. Some of the featured BBQ will include Big Bob Gibson’s n Decatur, SAW’s in Homewood, Full Moon, Jim N Nick’s and icons like Dreamland in Tuscaloosa and Golden Rule in Birmingham.
Visit Local Farmers Markets and Wineries
In addition to enjoying exciting food festivals and discovering great places to dine, Alabamians and visitors alike are encouraged to get off the interstates and major thoroughfares for a visit to local farms, farmers markets, and wineries. Visit any one of 135 state farmers markets and roadside stands. Sample the goat cheese crafted by Belle Chevre in Elkmont. Enjoy jellies and jams, produced by the folks in Alabama’s Black Belt and sold through places like Black Belt Treasures in Camden.
Discover the Alabama Wine Trail, featuring more than a dozen farm wineries, and explore culinary destinations such as Butlers Mill Restaurant in Graham and Rikard Mill near Monroeville, where you can watch cane syrup being made the old-fashioned way. To learn more about Alabama culinary destinations, visit www.alabama.travel to request free copies of the Alabama Vacation Guide and “100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die” brochure.
The logo for the 2012 food-themed campaign, a tasty green tomato on a spoon, will be featured in print and television ads throughout the year and a dedicated website, www.yearofalabamafood.com, will launch in mid-January to showcase the local flavor that is uniquely Alabama.
For more information about the Year of Alabama Food visit www.yearofalabamafood.com.