Thursday, October 11, 2018

Say "Hello" to Dolly!

Earlier in the week I had the opportunity to observe and interview some of the whimsical individuals involved with CAST’s Hello Dolly! Hello Dolly! is a classical musical that hit Broadway in 1964, revived five times between 1978-2017.
Dolly, the recently widowed professional matchmaker has arrived in New York City. The hustle and bustle of the 20th century era won’t stop Dolly from finding a wife for the irritable but wealthy Horace Vandergelder. Dolly soon figures out that this matchmaking client with require help from some other forces.
As opening night nears the cast members and crew are in the final steps of preparation for Hello Dolly! Co-directors Scott Whitney and Emily Duncan, alongside the unwearied cast, have truly worked hard to put together a comedic yet warmhearted show. “That’s the cool thing about community theatre it truly is a hodge-podge of everyone coming together.” Stated co-director Scott Whitney.
The cast of Hello Dolly! comes from all around the area. The actors and actresses vary in age, size, and profession, but the common factor is the their love for theatre and having a role in the arts of the community. Leila Acheson plays the role of the young Minnie Fay, she described Hello, Dolly! as “ A classical show that had the beauty of the golden age of theatre.”
Many of the team members got involved in theatre through influence of outside sources, or admiring family members as they grew up. Co-director Emily Duncan recalled “At a young age I became obsessed with musicals, I blame it on my mom…Whatever musical was on television at the time, I had to watch it.”
Jonas Abernathy whom plays Barnaby Tucker, first saw the production of Hello, Dolly! on Broadway, “I first saw the character Barnaby, and I was like oh I really wanna be that. I went and tried out … and I ended up getting it.” This show is Abernathy’s first principle role in a show beyond CAST Kidz.
Of the many anticipated musical numbers throughout the show, there were about three repeated favorites including Ribbons Down My Back, Motherhood March, and Dancing. Ellie Kennedy plays the role the court clerk and is a featured dancer in assemble, and when asked about her favorite scene, she exclaimed “I don’t think I have a favorite. I like them all equally.”
Hello, Dolly! will run October 11th , 12th , and 13th at 7:30 pm and October 14th at 2:30 pm for a matinee at the Fort McClellan Theatre. Tickets are available at the door and online at

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Explore the World

The Anniston Museum of Natural History is more than meets the eye. The museum attracts various crowds throughout the seasons; in the summer, tourists arrive with a curious frame of mind as to what is hidden inside. Fall, spring, and winter attract the public and private schools looking for an educational yet entertaining experience for children.

Renee Lyons and Sarah Burke are a part of the staff at the Anniston Museums & Gardens, both women interned with the museum before they were brought on permanently. In their interview this past week they discussed the most popular exhibits, Ancient Egypt and the Environments of Africa. Both of the collections contain pieces that you will not find anywhere else. As the museum is always welcoming new and returning visitors some advice Lyons and Burke had was to “Look up, look down, look all around and don’t just go around once, go two or three times.”

In the past eleven years the Changing Exhibit Gallery has had five different exhibits including Sue the T-Rex, Reptiles, History of Chocolate, Christmas Village, and Live Salty. In the remaining months of 2018 and in the early months of 2019 the museum is preparing for a new exhibit. While Lyons and Burke could not reveal the topic both are thoroughly excited for the change.

As we enter the fall season, events taking place at the Museum are more thrilling than ever. The month of October alone hosts the Fall Fest, Boo’s Bash (formerly known as Sudsfest), the revealing of the new lobby, and much more! The Anniston Museum of Natural History has Facebook page with more information on each individual event. The museum is open from 10 am – 5 pm Tuesday – Saturday and 1 pm – 5 pm on Sunday. Explore the world as it used to be, what is, and the different exhibits from around the world.

Guest Blogger:

Friday, September 28, 2018

October Occurances

Halloween is not the only major event in October for the Calhoun County area, and we are not talking about a couple trunk or treats.
Saturday, October 6th the Big Brothers Big Sister Run for Kids’ Sake 5k will occupy the YMCA in Coosa Valley. There is a $25 dollar entry fee, registration begins at 7 am.
Saturday, October 13th, the 3rd Annual Fall Fest hosted by the Anniston Museum of Natural History and the Berman Museum.  The festival will have a petting zoo, an appearance by the Anniston and White Plains Fire Departments, a bouncy house, and face paintings. Visitors will have the chance to see the Natural History Museum at night, all the lights will be turned off for this special event. Flashlights will be available upon request. All benefits go toward the Museum’s Educational Program. The event will open at 4 pm and tickets go on sale the first day in October.
Thursday, October 18th there will be a production of Wizard of Oz at the Oxford Performing Arts Center. The performance lasts from 7 pm – 10 pm. Tickets are available at  This is the only show time available so get your tickets before they are gone!
Beginning on Friday, October 19th and lasting until Sunday, October 21st, the Cold Water Mountain Fat Tire Festival is taking place. Gates will open at 12 pm on Friday. Be prepared for local food, quality entertainment, and a weekend of mountain biking! Join us for an event filled weekend and really see what Coldwater Mountain has to offer.
Saturday, October 20th at Cheaha State Park the Chill-O-Ween Fest will take place. This event will host a Mountain Chili Competition. There will be folk music by GW Henderson, ghost hikes, autumn fairy houses, storytelling, and so much more. General Admission is $5 dollars at the gate, the chili competition begins at 11:30 am and other activities will begin at 11 am.
Saturday, October 20th the Anniston Museum of Natural History will host Saturday Alive: featuring Creepy Critters.  Join the museum at 11 am to learn about these critters and the importance their role is in our environment.

Saturday, October 27th the Berman Museum is hosting the Berman’s Boo Bash. Kids can’t have all the fun, this night of craft beer tasting, local food sampling, and a new twist of Halloween activities. DJ Lance Johnson will be in attendance to help you dance the night away.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Alpaca Day

Saturday, September 22nd is National Alpaca Day, a day across the country where alpaca farms open to the public to celebrate this holiday. These events usually have shopping vendors, food vendors, and other surprises in store.
Debbie and Hank Merrill own Blackberry Hill Alpacas, a local alpaca farm on Saks Road in Anniston. They are hosting their 6th annual Blackberry Hill Alpacas open house on September 22nd. This former military couple has owned alpacas for 12 years, while their store has been open for 6 years.
In an interview Debbie told us that National Alpaca Day is a big event for their farm, but December through the end of March is the busiest time of year. People often come to the store to buy Christmas presents made of alpaca fiber. Alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic and very thick.
While the products sold at the store are made in Peru, alpacas’ native country, the ladies who craft these products center their entire lives on the business. Located in the high mountain country,  the Peruvian families work together to provide and maintain quality merchandise.
Debbie is always sure to tell first time visitors that alpacas will not spit on you. They spit on each other over food and territory, but they have never spit on a guest. Debbie’s fondness towards alpacas comes from the animals being nice, gentle, calm, but not overly friendly.
The Blackberry Hill Alpacas Open House begins this Saturday at 9 am at 6330 Saks Road, Anniston.
A camel will be at this event along with owls from the Anniston Museum of Natural History. Bring the entire family for a hands-on, memorable experience!

Friday, September 14, 2018

First Signs of Fall

The official calendar stats that fall starts September 22nd, but leading up to that point, the weather begins to get a little cooler (or not), while the days become shorter. People decorate their
houses in the various shades of red and orange, welcoming the change of seasons, but in Jacksonville, Alabama, the town surrounding Jacksonville State University has a different kind of
As a student attending the Friendliest Campus in the South, you can spot the beginning of fall in late August as new and returning Gamecocks start up the semester. The Marching Southerners start to resound around campus, preparing for those marvelous half-time performances. The Ballerinas perfect their kicks, and the Colorguard hold onto their flags a little tighter as they gust in the crisp autumn wind.
Sororities anticipate rush week and the celebrated Bid Day. Fraternities reach out to potential pledges. The Greek Life eagerly waits to welcome individuals into their credited organizations. The various religious activities such RUF, Engage, and the Wesley Foundation begin their weekly services.
Any Jacksonville local will notice the increase in traffic starting the Thursday before kick-off. The Farmer’s Market dwindles down as things go out of season. Repeated season-ticket holders drive into town with their RV’s to park them for the duration of football season. The stores on the Square are packed as everyone tries to find that last minute, perfect game day outfit.
Businesses all around Jacksonville start putting out their “Go Gamecocks” signs in the windows or on their changeable letter signs to show their support of the University. Restaurants prepare for the crowds looking for places to eat (and celebrate) between all the games that occur on the first Football Saturday.
Marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey bars magically find places beside each other in the grocery store. Halloween decorations take over the seasonal aisles at Wal-Mart, and those fall scented candles go on sale.
As the fall season breaches the city of Jacksonville anyone will find that before Jacksonville Mountain is covered in an array of colors the people are well prepared for the harvest season.

Guest Blogger: Baily Scott  
"My name is Baily Scott, I am a local to the Calhoun County area. I am currently a Senior at Jacksonville State University majoring in Communications with a focus in Public Relations and a minor in English. I enjoy hiking and exploring the outdoors in my spare time. I first became
involved with the Chamber my senior year in high school. Emily Duncan was my mentor, and I credit this experience with narrowing down what path of communications to take. A year and half into my college career I began interning for Main Street Anniston. It was through this opportunity that I once again found myself involved in Calhoun County. As a chance to work with the Chamber of Commerce surfaced just 3 short years after my initial encounter, I sought to continue my involvement. I look forward to working at the Chamber throughout this Fall semester."

Thursday, September 6, 2018

31st OxfordFest

The 31st Oxfordfest will take place Saturday, October 6th, booths open at 8:00 a.m. Teresa Crosson, Secretary on the committee of Oxfordfest, has been with the event for 18 years. Oxfordfest is a non-profit, volunteer based event, the committee that runs it is made up of 7 volunteers. Volunteers are welcomed each year, and this event often assists local college students in logging their needed volunteer hours.

Oxfordfest is an event free to the community that helps bring recognition to the historic downtown Oxford area, with proceeds going to those in need in the Oxford community. There will be a donation booth set up, where monetary donations are equivalent to an entry into the drawing for the grand prize of $1,000 dollars along with various other door prizes.

In an interview, Crosson gave first time attendees some advice:
  • Arrive early because Oxfordfest draws in 30,000 - 40,000 people each year.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes. Parking for Oxfordfest has changed this year as well, shuttles from the Quintard Mall will NOT be available, and parking will be as you find it. The footprint of this community event has been remastered to ease foot traffic and to make the overall shopping experience more enjoyable. 
  • Bring money. This year will feature over 300 product vendors, including some of the favorites from the years past and new businesses. 
  • Come hungry. 30 different food vendors with diverse menu options ranging from the classic funnel cake and tacos to BBQ will be participating.
  • Sit back and enjoy. 8 bands are scheduled to perform throughout the day, with headliner Hutch Edwards Project rounding out the afternoon at 3 p.m. 
  • Gather the family and save the date for the 31st Oxfordfest, Saturday, October 6th. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Great Fun for Family

Fall is a great time for family fun in Northeast Alabama! Here are some examples:

Anniston Museums & Gardens 
With weekly programs, including animal shows and festivals, or just a tour of the Natural History or Berman Museum with their daily hands on activities, this complex always has something going on for families, which is why membership is a no brainer.

Cheaha State Park
If you're into primitive camping, RV camping, cabin life or just hiking, fall is the perfect time to hit Alabama's highest peak! They too are packed we events and educational programs for the whole family!

JSU Gamecock Sports 
From football to soccer, fall gains speed as school is back and the whistle blows. Check out JSU Football at Burgess Snow Field and see one of America's best bands take the field at half-time!