Friday, February 17, 2017

All The World's a Stage

Many know of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, but few know of its founding. The festival did not actually start in Montgomery. It actually began as a summer program in Calhoun County's own Anniston in 1972. The original festival started in an old high school auditorium.
Martin Platt, known in the theatre world as a Shakespeare enthusiast, saw an opportunity, and through partnership and funding with the Alabama State Council on the Arts, he recruited unpaid actors from Pittsburgh and New York to host four productions, The Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, the Two Gentlemen of Verona and Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. For years, the company lived in Anniston, bringing large scale productions of classics to the southeast, but in 1985 ASF moved to its new home in Montgomery.
Thirty two years later, Shakespeare makes another triumphant return to Calhoun County, but this time it's at Jacksonville State for their production of The Tempest. The production runs February 16 through February 19 at the Ernest Stone Center for the Performing Arts.
This mystical production draws on the travel literature of its time and stories of violent windy storms causing fleets of ships to wreck. Shakespeare also seems to refer to the English colonial mentality of the time, the "What would I do if I king?" thinking.
 The tale begins as a tale of betrayal, with the wrongfully exiled conjuring a storm to shipwreck those he blames to an enchanted island. What mystical world will they enter? You'll have to see the show to find out!

The Tempest
Jacksonville State University's
Ernest Stone Center for the Performing Arts 
Feb. 16-18, 7 p.m., and Feb. 19, 2 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Natural Attraction for Local Charm

Many, when visiting, are searching for something unique to Alabama or made in Alabama.

Calhoun County has a great mix of national retailers, but we have an awesome selection of eclectic boutiques and shops to search for a one of a kind gift.

Unique to historic Main Street Oxford, one can find Sarah Cavender Metalworks, making jewelry for international retail and the runway or red carpet, selling for great prices in Calhoun County. While you're there, you can stop next door at the Main Olive for a tasting.

If you're strolling down or around Noble Street in Anniston, stop in Alexander's at Noble Shops for great gift items and clothes. From kitchen accessories to kid's boutique clothing, they have it. Just down the street, you'll also find great boutique shops like CD Cellar.

Something unique to Calhoun County is just off Highway 431, Blackberry Hill Alpacas Farm and Gift Shop, and just up the road the Anniston Museum & Gardens have a great gift shop with something for everyone! Just over the bypass, you'll find a shop that has an eye for made in the south items, Tyson Fine Wines & Things, featuring selections of local wines like White Oak's Southern Oak Wines and more!

If Antiques are your thing, we've got Calhoun Pickers in historic downtown Anniston, Cotton Antiques in historic downtown Oxford, Timeless Treasures just off Highway 78, and so much more within a 30 minute drive.

Just across from the new Freedom Riders National Monument, you'll find the family run Downing & Sons, still offering fabrics and farming tips and tools.

The Jacksonville area has many great boutiques. From Hannah Closet, to Swank, Quality Shoppe and Willow Tree, there is something for every price range. Jacksonville also makes sure you're gameday ready with the Bookstore on Mountain Street, just across from the new stadium, offering everything from sweatshirts to accessories.

Then local shops like Wakefield's, Martins, Griffins and Couch's offer items you could find at big box stores, often with affordable prices and charming southern customer service.

Shop Calhoun County and be sure to tell them we sent you!


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Romantic Getaway

Regardless of what your interests are, we have invigorating outdoors, amazing cultural sites, mouthwatering food and more, wrapped into one amazing destination. Whether you're looking for an relaxing overnight stay or an adventure, Calhoun County is a natural attraction for a romantic getaway.

EAT
If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind restaurant, Calhoun County will not disappoint with its list of locally owned restaurants dishing out mouthwatering dishes the state claims "you must eat before you die!"
What are you hungry for? 

STAY 
The Courtyard by Marriott is offering a Valentine's special, a 1 night stay for two, either Standard King or Double Room, with Breakfast and Dinner for two at the Bistro. There will be a complimentary bottle of wine in the room at a special rate of $134 for Friday, Feb. 10th through Sunday, February 12th or $156 Monday, February 13th-Tuesday, February 14th.
This special is NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE. For more information or to make a reservation, contact 256-831-7995 and ask for the Valentine Special!

For a complete list of area hotels, browse, www.visitcalhouncounty.com/stay

PLAY
Valentine's weekend kicks off with the National Broadway Tour of 42nd Street at the Oxford Performing Arts Center on Friday, February 10, at 7:30 P.M. 
Go for a romantic sunset stroll at Cheaha State Park, Oxford Lake or Choccolocco Park

Ride in tandem along Ladiga or challenge each other to an pedalling adventure at Coldwater Mountain.  

Compete to see who has the best aim at the Civilian Marksmanship Program

Explore World History at the Berman or the wilds of Africa at the Museum

Spoil your sweetheart with a local shopping spree or massage. 

Cruise through the Historic Driving Tour

Tee off at on of our local golf courses as a pair. 

Sample the North Alabama Wine Tour. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Day at the Park

 Not far from the base of Mount Cheaha and rock's throw from I-20, Choccolocco Park shines as a new 300 plus acre sportsplex, featuring everything from baseball to softball, soccer to track and field, with playgrounds, trails, and beautiful naturescapes in between.

The Choccolocco Valley has rich history, dating back to the prehistoric times to the woodland times, serving as the home for the modern day Muscogee Creek Nation. This history is featured on the park's Interpretive Trail, winding along the waterfront, past swings and playgrounds.

As you enter the park, you'll see the fully accessible Boundless Playground, for people of all ages, abilities and disabilities with double-wide ramps for wheelchair access and modified swings.

The signature baseball field matches major league specifications, with a 325 left field line, 390 center and 320 right field line. Recently, the field was awarded the National High School Baseball Coaches Association Southeast Field of the Year. The field also features two batting cages, locker rooms and hosts 1200 seating capacity. Jacksonville State University will call the signature field home for 2017, as renovations are made to Rudy Abbott Field in Jacksonville. The Signature Field will also host the OVC Baseball Championship.

The signature softball field matches NCAA standards with 205 left field line and 220 center. Seating about 800, this field also features two batting cages, locker rooms and will host the 2017 OVC Softball Championship.

The Track and Field facility, built to NCAA regulations, will host the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference Championship, with its eight lane rubberized track hosting hammer throw, steeplechase. javelin, pole vault, long-jump, triple long-jump, high jump, discos throw, shot put, and more.

The four-field pod features two 300 fields and two high school regulation fields, to be used for the 2017 Dixie Youth Little League World Series in August. Next door, the five field pod has five 300 fields, baseball or softball, also to be used for the Dixie Youth Little League World Series.

Currently, there are four soccer fields with room for expanding to more, available for high school, collegiate, tournaments, clinics and more.

The park is conveniently located near accommodations, shopping, dining, making it a hospitable destination for residents and visitors. So, it's parks plus outdoor recreation activities like kayaking, hiking and more, plus cultural activities like the performing arts center and Museum and Gardens Complex.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Must See Attractions in Calhoun County

Looking for something fun to do? Here's a checklist for you!
Chief Ladiga Trail
32.5 miles of trail run from Anniston through Weaver, Jacksonville and Piedmont to the Georgia/Alabama State Line, where is connects to the Silver Comet Trail and makes it the longest paved rail trail in the U.S.
Choccolocco Park 
Named the National High School Baseball Coaches Association Field of the Year, this sports and recreation venue hosts athletic events and features water and natural resources, picnic pavilions, walking and biking trails, and a Boundless Playground. Oxford is also home to the Oxford Performing Arts Center, accommodating 1,130 seats in the middle of historic downtown Oxford, with state-of-the-art lighting and sound, an orchestra pit, dressing rooms, and a proscenium stage with large wing space and storage.
Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail
Coldwater Mountain offers both 1.5 mile beginner loops, for riders of any level, and a 10 mile Blue Loop for intermediate riders. The trails are open to hikers and runners as well, although it is recommended they take the trails counterclockwise to see cyclists coming. Currently, more than 35
miles of trails have been built under the supervision of IMBA Trail Solutions.
Coldwater Covered Bridge
Oxford Civic Center is not only a place to stretch your legs on paved and gravel tracks or play on the playground, it is also home to one of Alabama’s oldest remaining covered bridges, moved from Coldwater Creek to Oxford Lake and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Pinhoti Hiking Trail
This is Alabama’s premiere long-distance recreation trail, spanning 110 miles and traversing the ridges and crests of the Talladega National Forest Mountains through Georgia to connect with the Appalachian Trail.
Terrapin Creek
Canoe or kayak down the beautiful Terrapin Creek, and take in scenery like you’ve never seen. Cool off in the spring fed water, and enjoy fun for the whole family.
Anniston Museum Complex
Explore the wilds of Africa and browse Colonel berman's fascinating collection of weapons and artifacts at the Anniston Museum of natural History and the Berman Museum of World History. Then, catch an event or class at the brand new Longleaf Botanical Gardens!
Civil Rights Trail
Walk through time and discover the Civil Rights Trail of Anniston, including the newly named Freedom Riders National Monument along Highway 202 and at 1031 Gurnee Avenue, recapping the history that unfolded in 1961 during the Civil Rights Movement.
Janney Furnace Civil War & Native American Museum
From the story of Lyncoya Jackson to the Civil War, Ohatchee is home to this Civil War Era Furnace and the Battle of Ten Islands. Browse their collections of weaponry and artifacts or make plans to attend their spring Reenactment.
White Oak Vineyards
White Oak Vineyards is a small farm winery that grows the fruit used to produce wines for their trademark label, Southern Oak Wines. Their tasting room is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Outside of Calhoun County
Cheaha State Park 
Looking for a great view, just 20 miles from Anniston, you'll find the state's highest peak at Cheaha State Park. This haven for outdoor enthusiasts includes trails for hiking and biking, swimming holes and hotel or cabin accommodations.
CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park 
This more than 500 acre public facility offers sport shooters opportunities to practice and participate in competitive events, with state of the art electronic targets and monitors for participants and spectators. CMP also has the South Competition Center in Anniston, which contains 80, 10 meter firing points with electronic targets and monitors.
Desoto Caverns Family Fun Park
Retrace Hernando DeSoto’s expedition through the south over 450 years ago. Explore the caverns, the Lost Maze, and pan for gold and gemstones. The park features a picnic area, camping, hiking, and activities for the whole family.
Talladega Superspeedway & International Motorsports Hall of Fame
Visit the fastest closed track in the world with records exceeding 200 miles per hour. The museum showcases vehicles that have set world records, antique automobiles, speed boats, planes, and more.

Friday, January 13, 2017

History Preserved

January 12, President Obama proclaimed two sites in Anniston, the former Greyhound Station and the site of the Freedom Riders' bus burning in 1961, National Monuments through the Antiquities Act of 1906.The same day, the National Park Service also awarded a $496,375 grant to restore the former bus station.
As a city, a county and community, we are extremely excited about this opportunity. These significant Civil Rights Movement sites are a part of history, the 1961 Freedom Rides, which compelled the federal government to enforce the desegregation of interstate public transportation and facilities.These historical markers and sites are already currently visited by hundreds of tourists and locals each year; however, this federal assistance will help us amplify our current impact. Visiting these historic locations of the freedom riders allows us to form connections to the stories of the Civil Rights Movement, the courage to stand for the full freedoms of many.
The buildings and the property around our historic sites have not changed drastically; therefore, visitors can still vividly imagine the attack on the Freedom Riders who arrived on that day in 1961. Now, outdoor murals and historic markers tell of the events, and our region has a powerful story to share with the world. As stated on the National Park Service website, their mission is to preserve and protect “powerful places” – including the physical memory of our nation's civil rights history. We look forward to the many visitors coming to witness history, preserved for future generations to come.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Alabama Weather

Welcome to Alabama, where it is 19 degrees on Saturday and 70 the next week. Our seasons are often mild, which makes mountain biking accessible year round, with or without a fat tire and kayaking can generally happen March to late October.

Winter
December, January and February are normally ranging from temperatures in the 30s to 50s. In March, temperatures begin to climb to the 40s and 60s. While January is normally the coolest, February and March are normally the months with the highest precipitation. Alabama has had a white Christmas, but the Blizzard of '92 occurred during March. Weather has a mind of its own.

Spring
 Spring! Spring! Spring grows from pleasant 40s and 60s to lower and upper 80s, perfect for paddling the creek or opting outside. However, spring is also known for scattered showers and occasional thunderstorms. The tension of temperatures cause unstable weather conditions, but those showers create cooler temps and rushing flowing streams, perfect for floating with the family.

Summer
July, August and September can be scorchers, with July typically being the warmest. July and August average 70s to 90s, and September begins to cool to the 60s and 80s. The brutally hot days make for a good time to explore the museums, but the beautiful days make for a good time to go boating at Neely Henry. August and September are normally two of the driest months.

Fall
October temperatures begin to fade from 70s to November 60s. The night chill around 40 makes for a ideal bonfire temperatures, perfect for roasted marshmallows and campfire stories. October is another dry month, but a November generally makes up for the back to school droughts. The leaves sense the impending winter and change to red and orange hues around the first of November each year.