Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sounds of Fall

For 60 years, as football season approaches, the echos of the drumline signal the Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners are ready to take the field. Some locals "sneak" into practice to admire the sound of around 500 musicians, color guard and marching ballerinas, or drive around town with their windows down to take in the sounds of the Southerners.

Although the first band for JSU was formed around 1923, and the first full time band director did not start until 1948, in the fall of 1956, the Marching Southerners and Ballerinas made their official debut.
The Marching Southerners' unique sound reminds one more of a orchestra than a typical marching band. Their unique sound is packed with trumpets, bass trombones and 20-J tubas. Their look is military-like in precision and artistic in formations.

The Marching Southerners have played in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee and on the U.S.S. Missouri for the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Crowds rise to their feet in applause after each and every performance. Once you see them perform, in person, you'll understand why they're regarded as one of the best marching bands in the land.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Drop the Keys

Calhoun County is blessed to have the longest paved rail to trail project in the US running through its heart, connecting the cities of Piedmont, Jacksonville, Weaver and Anniston. Cities like Anniston and Oxford are developing bike share plans that include bike routes and lanes. In the meantime, you can see much of our County while staying on your bike.
Our part of the trail picks up 13 miles outside  Piedmont at the State Line, where it connects to Georgia's Silver Comet trail leading into Smyrna.
The City of Piedmont maintains this entire section, which wanders through and along the edge of the Talladega National Forest and includes beautiful views of Terrapin Creek, intersects with the Pinhoti Hiking Trail and surrounds you with picturesque landscapes including Dugger Mountain. As you enter Piedmont, trail users frequent the Eubanks Welcome Center, for the facilities or the hospitality and history one finds there. The trail runs through Piedmont's quaint downtown, which includes the infamous Solid Rock Cafe, with it's delicious occasional Sunday buffet, menu favorites like Chicken Salad, and the always refreshing Powerade slushie.
Continuing for about ten miles, trail users make their way to Jacksonville, via Germania Springs Park. The trail then enters the campus of Jacksonville State University, just a few hundred yards from many notable restaurants like Cooter Brown's Rib Shack, Effina's, Java Jolt and much more! Along the trail, the Jacksonville Train Depot, much like Eubanks, is another stop that trail users frequent for facilities and may be asked to sign in for tracking trail visitors.
Making their way to the south, trail users pass the Jacksonville Community Center, Jacksonville's Kitty Stone Elementary and Jacksonville High, before entering Weaver. Near the community center as well as the schools, users will notice trail spurs for locals to use in safely accessing the trails. As they cross Weaver's Main Street, users will notice Elwell Park, complete with parking adjacent to Weaver's Police Station, a great trail head if trail users plan to leave their car over night.
While the trail currently goes a short distance into Anniston, plans have been developed to continue the trail to what was once Fort McClellan via a spur as well as completing the old rail-bed to the downtown area, connecting users to Amtrak's Cresent Line Route in Anniston as well as the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trails.

In addition, as one may notice on Strava and other route tracking apps, there are also several road routes area cyclist frequent, including the Dugger Mountain Wilderness, DeArmanville and Golden Springs, Skyline Drive at Cheaha State Park and much more. 

Friday, September 8, 2017


Calhoun County is surrounded by nature, hints the tagline "natural attraction," so where sound your adventures begin?
The Chief is a family oriented pathway that wanders 33 miles through the countryside of Calhoun and Cleburne counties and it connects the municipalities of Piedmont, Jacksonville, Weaver and Anniston.
Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail
Coldwater Mountain is a series of flow trails designed and built by the International Mountain Biking Association. The current more than 35 miles of trail can be accessed via Coldwater Road or Monsanto Road.
Terrapin Creek
Looking for a peaceful float, check out No Worries Kayaks. They rent out kayaks, shuttle you to Terrapin Creek, and help you unload and load your kayaks.
White Oak Vineyards
White Oak Vineyards, producer of Southern Oak Wines, is located in beautiful Choccolocco Valley near Anniston and I-20, offering tastings each weekend. 
Blackberry Hill Alpacas
This 60 acre farm also has a gift shop and opens for field trips and more! 
This private ranch does ask visitors to call before visiting, but they're happy to serve the Southeast with "America's Original Red Meat." Grass-fed/pastured. 
Open for the month of October, Bennett Farms is a fourth generation farm with pumpkins, farm animals, corn crib, hay rides, pipe slides, and much more!
 All this plus parks and more make for a way to opt outside, explore outdoor and see the world.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Date Night

You've got your typical dinner and a movie, but what are some fun unique date night alternatives?
Test Your Team
One of the newest attractions in Oxford is Escape Zone, a 60 minute escape room. How long will it take your team to solve the clues and breakout? It's a good way to test how well you work with others, too.
Seats for a Show
Between the Knox Concert Series and the Oxford Performing Arts Center, Broadway and Grammy talent takes the stage, bringing world renowned talent to our back yard.
Enjoy Events
This fall includes great events like Sudsfest and JSU football, which make for an entertaining time with food and fun!
Don't know what you want to eat? We've got a great list of diverse culinary choices constantly being updated at