Thursday, September 29, 2016

Life is like a pedal...

 "Life is like a pedal. They can push you down, but you'll always come back up."

According to an e-card, "studies have shown that riding a bicycle everyday makes you more awesome than the general population," and we couldn't agree more. That's why we're glad NEABA (Northeast Alabama Bicycling Association) not only hosts the Cheaha Challenge, but they also created Coldwater Mountain's Fat Tire Fest! Thanks to our great volunteers that made 2015 such a success, it's back, bigger and better than before, for year two!

So, October 14-16, pack the bikes and the whole family for some "bikes, beer, burgers, brats and bands!" The festival is based in Zinn Park in historic downtown Anniston. The trailheads will be restricted due to all the festival activities, but shuttles to the mountain will run all weekend, Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. Zinn Park is easy to find. Just take exit 185 off I-20, and travel north on Hwy 21, Quintard Avenue, until you reach West 13th, 14th or 15th Street. There, you'll travel three blocks to reach Zinn Park. From nighttime trail rides to group rides, demo bikes and cycling movies, this event has it all, even a duathlon.

The beirgarten will feature local craft brews, as attendees wind down after a day on the mountain. Grab some dinner and relax as you enjoy great music and food.

More information and registration can be found on the Coldwater Mountain Fat Tire Fest website.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Date Night Idea for Beer Lovers

"Eat, drink and be merry!"
For 12 years, the Anniston Museum Complex has hosted an annual food and beer sampling event just in time for Oktoberfest! This year's event is scheduled for Saturday, September 24, beginning at 6:00 P.M. at the newly remodeled Longleaf Botanical Gardens & Event Center.
At SudsFest, some of our areas best bakeries and restaurants will be dishing out food, while attendees enjoy beer tastings, cocktail bars and wine bars. Local restaurants participating include The Peerless Saloon & Grille, Mad Hatter Cupcakes, Heroes, Thai One On, Zoe's on the Lake, Garfrerick's Cafe, and Artisanal Baked Goods. From your favorite beer brands and signature cocktails to sampling local craft brews, don't miss this opportunity to also taste food that defines the culinary experience in Calhoun County and entertainment. This year features "American Floyd," a Pink Floyd tribute band. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to set up and thoroughly enjoy the concert and light show in the gardens at 8 P.M.
This event serves as a fundraiser supporting the Anniston Museum of Natural History, the Berman Museum of World History and the Longleaf Botanical Gardens. Guests must be 21 years or older to attend, and tickets are $50 for general admission and $45 for museum members. Designated Driver tickets are also available for $30. For more information, call (256)237-6766.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Two Wheeled Adventures

 Whether you're a road cyclist coasting down a hillside or a mountain biker who enjoys churning up climbs and sidewinders, Calhoun County has something for you.
For the beginner to the one training to build up mileage, the Chief Ladiga Trail is a part of the longest paved "rail-trail" in the U.S., connecting to the Silver Comet at the Alabama/Georgia state line and trekking all the way from Anniston to Smyrna. This trail is frequented by road bikes, townies, families, runners and walkers searching for an opportunity to get outdoors.
Henry Farm, the home of the Jacksonville High School Mountain Bike team, has several loops for both beginner and advanced mountain bikers.
The Choccolocco trails, also known as "Iron Legs," have several miles of climbing just off Bains Gap Road.
Coldwater Mountain is now home to more than 30 miles of mountain trails, conveniently located just minutes from downtown Historic Anniston. This extensive trail system has both beginner loops, like Baby Bear, to vast advanced trails like Bomb Dog.
Not too far from Oxford, Cheaha State Park also has a mountain bike trail system of various skill levels with spectacular views of Northeast Alabama.
LaGarde Park at the Museum Complex has several dirt trails for exploring around the Museums and Botanical Gardens.
Most Roadies around Anniston and Oxford follow the Pizza Route from Golden Springs Church or DeArmanville Post Office for route loops of various mileage. 
Some locals climbs to conquer include Chimney Peak in Jacksonville, Bains Gap, and Cheaha's Scenic Parkway.
Chimney Peak is about a 1.5 mile climb with more than 900 feet of elevation change, ending with a breathtaking view of Jacksonville State University's campus and town. Bains Gap is a .75 mile climb averaging 17%. At Cheaha, roadies can climb until their heart is content, with more than 20 miles from the Ranger Station on Skyway to the highest point in Alabama.

As you see, Calhoun County is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, especially cyclists.  

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners

Week nights during the fall, music literally fills the air, especially in Jacksonville. The further north you travel on Hwy 21, and if you turn onto Hwy 204, roll your windows down and turn off your radio. You don't need a radio if you have the Marching Southerners in your back yard.
Jacksonville State University Football games include two games, 4 quarters of football and halftime.
For more than 60 years, the Marching Southerners have brought together students from across the U.S. to form one of the largest and best band in the nation. We may be biased, but if you listen, you'll understand.

Each performance brings pride, tears, awe, and joy. Each season, from pregame and halftime to Competitions and showcases, this group of students from Jacksonville State University perform for thousands, including as a flash mob.

"I'll fly Away" is a Southerner tradition, performed postgame with the Gamecocks' football team and cheerleaders joining in the fun.
You might actually recognize the name "Marching Southerners" from some of their notable performances, including the 1996 – 70th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. By the way, a segment of the Southerners' performance can be seen in the opening scene of Episode 9.08 of Friends ("The One with Rachel's Other Sister"), which originally aired on Nov. 21, 2002.
If you're from across the pond, in 2012,The Southerners led the New Year's Day Parade in London, England, which also kicked off the 2012 Summer Olympics celebrations and Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.
This year, the Marching Southerners have been invited to travel to Hawaii and play on the U.S.S Missouri in honor of the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. 
Jacksonville State is known as the "friendliest campus in the south," and the Southerners are known for taking that Southern hospitality with them wherever they go. 
If you hear that the Southerners are performing, it's not something you want to miss. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Reasons to Visit Calhoun Co this Fall

1. Attend Fall Fests: 
From SudsFest to OxfordFest and new events like Picktober, attend as many great fall events as you can. 

2. Take a Bike Ride:
If you're an adrenaline junkie, don't miss the Coldwater Mountain FatTire Fest, or if a leisure stroll to enjoy the sights is more your style, hit the Ladiga Trail
3. Check out the seasonal beers at Cheaha Brewing:
This fully functioning brew pub not only serves their finely crafted beer brewed onsite, but they pair it with dishes using locally grown, organic produce/dairy products and all natural meats.

4. People watch at Football Games:
JSU's 2015 football season included the Road to Frisco, so don't miss the excitement as the Gamecock's stay Cocky in 2016. 

5. Enjoy the Park:
From Germania Springs to Oxford Lake, Calhoun County municipalities have great parks and amenities to enjoy fall temperatures. 

6. Take a Hike:
From the Pinhoti to the trails atop Cheaha State Park and local trails like Henry Farm or Coldwater, opt outside, and take the whole family for an enjoyable hike through National Forests and Wildlife refuges. 

7. Hit up the Farmers Markets:
Everything from locally grown vegetables and fruit to handmade jewelry and baked goods from Artisanal are for sale at our eclectic local Farmers Markets

8. Sip a Coffee and Read a Book: 
We have several local authors, including Rick Bragg, who would love to know you visited their hometown and stopped by Java Jolt for some Pumpkin Spice lattes. 

9. Shop Local: 
From great boutiques like Willow Tree to Swank, game-day apparel at Red Threads or thrill seeker gear at Gamecock Outfitters, Calhoun County has eclectic shops for everyone!

10. Walk aimlessly around the Museum Complex:
From the Berman World History to the Anniston Museum of Natural History or the new Longleaf Botanical Gardens, the Museum Complex features something for everyone, the scientist, history buff or outdoor enthusiast. 

11. Soak up the Sunset:
From peaks like Chimney Peak in Jacksonville or Cheaha State Park, there's not a bad seat to enjoy fall foliage and sunset, in one place at one time. 

12. Do Fall Things on the Farm: 
Local Farms Like Bennett Farms offer activities like hayrides, petting zoos, trains, mazes, pumpkins and more to their guests. 

13. Scare Family and Friends:
From the Terrortorium to Desoto Caverns and the Haunted Chicken House, nothing says fall like Halloween spooks. 

14. Go for a local winery tour: 
Folks, like White Oak Vineyards, may even let you try the muscadines fresh off the vine, hear how they're harvested and made to wine, and taste the finished products. 

15. Trace the mountainsides:
Nothing says "it's fall" like mountains of fall foliage along the foothills of the Appalachian, so grab the whole family and head to the great outdoors. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fall Fests in Calhoun County

Alabama is known for its blue skies, but did you know we are also known for the foothills of the Appalachian, including Alabama's highest point Mount Cheaha, where hundreds flock each fall to enjoy the fall foliage?

To celebrate the Fall's arrival, many of our communities throw fabulous festivals!

Spirit on Mountain Street
Thursday, August 25, at 6:00 P.M. at JSU
This community "Taste of the Town" and Pep-Rally features food from more than 30 restaurants, a Kids Zone, Dunking Booth, EXPO, Car Show, Hot Dog Eating Contest, Cake Auction, and more!

Weaver Heritage Day
Saturday, September 10, from 9:00 A.M.-3:00 P.M.
at Elwell Park, Weaver
This is a day to celebrate with live music from local musicians, items from crafters and food from local vendors! 

Spokes & Strings Bluegrass Festival
Saturday, September 10, from 11:00 A.M.-10:00 P.M. 
at Mike Tucker Park, Anniston
New for 2016, residents and visitors of Anniston are invited to grab an instrument, tent and lawn chair and join the community under the shade of the pecan trees at the park for a full day of music from some of the region's finest bluegrass bands.

Fall Fest
Saturday, September 17, from 9:00 A.M.-2:00 P.M. 
This old fashioned county fair is held at the Cane Creek Community Gardens at McClellan. There will be inflatables for the kids, a cake walk, pony rides, a wildlife show, and a fall farmers & crafts market.

SudsFest 2016
Saturday, September 24, at 6:00 P.M. 
This year's event will be hosted at the newly remodeled Longleaf Botanical Gardens & Event Center, featuring great food from some of Calhoun County’s finest restaurants and bakeries; beer tastings and wine bars; and a signature cocktail bar.

Saturday, October 1, from 8:00 A.M.-4:00 P.M. 
This annual arts and craft festival, which takes place the first Saturday in October on Main Street in Oxford, features arts and craft vendors from all over, food, live music, fun for all ages, and prize drawings throughout the day.

Saturday, October 8, from 10:00 A.M.-6:00 P.M. 
at Calhoun Pickers in Anniston
This first time Arts and Crafts Festival, will feature handcrafted items , food and fun for the whole family!
Saturday, October 15, from 12:00 P.M. -7:00 P.M.
at Grace Episcopal in Anniston
This annual event is a fundraiser benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Calhoun County.

Saturday, October 29, 10:00 A.M.-4:00 P.M. 
on Noble Street in Anniston
This annual downtown festival features Food, Arts and Crafts, Music, Horse Carriage Rides, Kidz Zone, Train Rides and Demonstrations.

Main Street Trick or Treat 
Saturday, October 29, from 4:00-8:00 P.M. 
on Main Street in Oxford
This historic Downtown Oxford event will feature hayrides, games, candy for kids, crafts, food and costume contests!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Where History Books come to Life...

From Civil War to Civil Rights, Calhoun County is rich with history and historical markers.

Freedom Riders
On May 14, 1961, a Greyhound bus left Atlanta, GA carrying among its passengers seven members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a.k.a. the "Freedom Riders," on a journey to test interstate bus segregation. The bus was met by an angry mob at the bus station in Anniston where tires were slashed and windows broken. Upon leaving Anniston, the bus was followed by the mob along Hwy 202, where the driver stopped to change the tire. The crowd set the bus on fire and attacked passengers as they departed. The incident served to strengthen the resolve for the civil rights movement. Now, in downtown Anniston, there are two murals with panels recapping the events as they unfolded in pictures. 
Governor Thomas E. Kilby 
His administration as Governor of Alabama notable for sound business principles, for prison reform, for advancement and expansion of charitable institutions, and for constitutional amendments which provided state bond issues for highway and bridge development and for building the State Docks in Mobile. His interment is on the hill, near fence, at Highland Cemetery. 
Grace Episcopal Church
Called "A poem of cedar and stone," its history is intimately related to that of Anniston. Town Founders, Daniel Tyler and Samuel Noble, inspired its conception, funded its construction and caused the Woodstock Iron Company to donate the land on which it was built. George Upjohn, Architect, and Master Stonemason, William Jewell, used native pink sandstone and Tennessee knotty cedar to emulate Solomon's Temple. The Gothic Revival edifice, the oldest church in town, was organized on April 8, 1881, built in 1882-5, and consecrated by Bishop Richard H. Wilmer on May 19, 1886. Its first service was conducted on Christmas Eve, 1885.
Parker Memorial Baptist Church
On July 3, 1887, a congregation of 45 people met at the Opera House on Noble Street to organize a new church. Originally called Second Baptist Church, the name soon was changed to Twelfth Street Baptist Church. In 1889, it became Parker Memorial Baptist Church in memory of Mrs. Cornelia A. Parker, whose husband gave the money for a new building that was dedicated in March of 1891. 

Jacksonville-First County Seat
On Jacksonville's Square, you'll see a sign with the town's original name, Drayton. Renamed in 1834 to honor President Andrew Jackson, the county seat moved to Anniston in 1899. Calhoun County originally was Benton County, named for Colonel T. H. Benton, Creek War officer, later U.S. Senator from Missouri and renamed in 1858 for John C. Calhoun. 10th Alabama Volunteers-Army of Northern Virginia, C.S.A.
On Jacksonville's Public Square, you'll see a marker to this regiment, who took part for four years in major battles of the Virginia theater. Officers organized the regiment on June 4, 1861, in Montgomery, Alabama. Disbanded at Appomattox, Va., April, 1865, by order of General Robert E. Lee. 
John Horace Forney
1829-1902. Forney was a Major General, C.S.A., a graduate of West Point, who lead Confederate forces at Manassas, Pensacola, Vicksburg, Mobile, and Texas.
John Tyler Morgan
1824-1907. This Lawyer, Soldier, Senator lived in Jacksonville in 1838. From 1862-65, he was a Colonel of 51st Alabama Cavalry, and 1863-65, Morgan served as Brigadier General C.S.A. with Wheeler's Cavalry. Then, 1876-1907, he served as a United States Senator. 
Major John Pelham
1838-1863. "The Gallant Pelham" as called by Robert E. Lee commanded Artillery in the Army of Northern Virginia and was killed in action in Virginia. 
Joseph William Burke
1835-1900. This Lawyer, Industrialist, Patriot. Brigadier General, U.S.A., General Burke helped rebuild Alabama's mining and manufacturing interests after the Civil War. He helped establish the Catholic Church at Jacksonville, and his home, "Bellevue," occupied the present site of Jacksonville State University.

Ladiga Cavalry Skirmish
On October 28, 1864, during the last fighting between the armies of Hood and Sherman, Ferguson turned back Kilpatrick's larger force. These two armies fought all summer from Chattanooga to Atlanta, west to here. To split the South, Sherman turned and led Union forces in March to Sea. Hood withdrew to reoccupy Tennessee, fighting the battles of Franklin and Nashville.

During the Creek Indian War on November 3, 1813, General John Coffee, commanding 900 Tennessee Volunteers, surrounded the Indians nearby and killed some 200 warriors. This was the first American victory of the war, avenging the earlier massacre of 517 at Ft. Mims by Indians.