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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Best of Summer

AL.com recently named the Best Breweries, Best Places to Eat Wings and Best Pizza. Area restaurants were recognized in all three!

Cheaha Brewing is known for its Noble Street Wheat, but its menu is delicious too. From their Pimento Cheese Loaded Waffle Fries to their Chicken Salad, Steak Sandwich and more, they have something for everyone on their menu, including kids! Cheaha Brewing was recognized as the best brewery to eat dinner.

Yes, Jefferson's has locations throughout the state, but it's home is in Calhoun County. They may have 15 sauces to choose from, but double-dipped, fried then dipped in turbo sauce and re-fried, is the best! We're lucky to have two locations, the Original in Jacksonville and the convenient location just off I-20 in Oxford.

Thanks to its vast menu, including delicious wings, Heroes is always hopping. Their flavors include boom-boom, Carribean Jerk and lemon pepper, and many recommend the Warrior Wings. Located just south of Jacksonville, along 21, Heroes is conveniently located between Jacksonville and Anniston.

Mata's is always busy with locals, who will recommend you call in your order for their mouthwatering pizza. The Mata's Special is built with thick crust, onions, peppers, mushrooms, olives and feta, coated with white cheddar cheese! Located along Hwy 21/Quintard, it's a convenient location you won't want to miss.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

"Not all those who wander are lost.."- Tolkien

After reading books or watching movies like "Wild" or "A Walk in the Woods," some are inspired to venture out and hit the trail. After all, Whitman said, "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth."

In and around Calhoun County, there is much to see and do, including trails for hiking.

Before you set out on your next adventure, review your checklist:
- Appropriate tennis shoes or hiking boots
- Plenty of water and snacks
- Watch your step
- Stay on course
- Leave no trace

Cheaha State Park
There are several great trails, and some overlap with mountain bikers, to which you yield.
- Bald Rock has a boardwalk path, and two dirt paths on either side of the boardwalk. All three are about .3 miles and allow you to enjoy the highest point in Alabama's scenic overlook.
- Pulpit Rock is sometimes steep, but this .3 mile trail is worth the climb for a picturesque overlook. Some rock climbing enthusiasts can also obtain a permit from the Country Store.
- Mountain Laurel follows the streambank about 1.4 miles to the Rock Garden Outlook.
- The Lake Trails connect Cheaha Lake to the Rock Garden over a 1 miles steep and rugged path.
- Have you seen Bigfoot? Cheaha has a .5 mile Leave No Trace Bigfoot Trail that connects the Motel to the highest point.
- Fisherman's Tail circles .6 miles around the Lake and is known for having perfect fishing holes.
- The Odum Scout Hiking Trail traces 7.5 miles of slopes in the Cheaha Wilderness area.
- Chinnabee Silent Trail is a 6 mile trail varying from moderate to difficult hiking from Lake Chinnabee to Caney Head atop Talladega Mountain.
- Pinhoti National Recreation Trail has more than 100 miles of moderate to difficult hiking trails through east Alabama's mountains and valleys to Georgia's mountains and streams.

Alabama Birding Trails includes Coleman Lake at Shoal Creek in the Talladega National Forest, the Mountain Longleaf Wildlife Refuge at McClellan, the Choccolocco Forest's Frog Pond, and The Anniston Museum of Natural History Trial.

Nearby we also have the Little River Canyon National Preserve, Lake Guntersville, Cherokee Rock Village, and more!

Cheaha State Park @ Bald Rock