Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Take a trip to Neverland!

As Jacksonville Opera Theatre (JOT) rehearses and gears up for their production of Peter Pan to open at Oxford Performing Arts Center, we interviewed Technical and Artistic Director Nathan Wight for a little behind the scenes details!

- Tell is a little about the history of JOT and how people can contribute to future performances. 
Nathan Wight
Jot began in 2003 with two one act operas that we produced with a budget of a whopping $199.80. We have since progressed to being a nationally recognized and award winning company producing musicals and operas on a much grander scale every year. Our foremost mission is to change the face of arts education in northeast Alabama. We give performance opportunities to JSU students, local High School students, elementary students, and community members.
We cannot provide these opportunities without the support of people who also recognize the important roles that art plays in our everyday life. We are always looking for monetary and in-kind donations, but more importantly people who want to work alongside us.
I should mention that OPAC has been a great supporter of the arts in NE Alabama. Our partnerships with them have produced some really great productions like Phantom and Into the Woods. 

- Past performances have included Into the Woods and Phantom of the Opera, why Peter Pan?
It is interesting that you should ask about why we chose Peter Pan. It was actually chosen at the second to the last performance of Phantom of the Opera. John Longshore and I sat in the Box office at OPAC, and asked...”What are we going to do next?” Les Miserable was not available, and this seemed like a good choice for another joint venture.

- What are some other favorite musicals of yours? 
My most favorite musical is Carousel. We did a production of that a few years back, and people still talk about it. Many don’t like it because it is a tragedy, but I really enjoy the way it can move people.

- What's been your favorite part of building Peter Pan? 
My most favorite part of building any show is that moment when it is all done. Of course, anyone who has been to one of our shows knows that I am fond of imagining things in a different way. One of my favorite comments ever was “It wasn’t until half way through the show that I realized we were on a ship, and there wasn’t anything on the stage other than a couple of doors and a chair on wheels!” This production of PP is no different. There is only one bed, just part of a boat, and a different kind of window. For crying out loud, we did Carousel without a Carousel!

- Do you have a favorite moment or scene? When & why?
I don’t have a favorite moment in this show. . . But I find myself frequently during rehearsals with this silly grin on my face. The story and the music is so incredibly delightful.
I suppose that one of my favorite moments will be Slightly‘s line, “To die would be an awfully big adventure.” I can’t wait to see the audience reaction to the surprise.

- Who should and why should folks come see the show? 
If you are looking for a wonderful way to start your new year, this is it. Peter Pan is a timeless classic that has something to say to the child in all of us.

Peter Pan runs January 4-10 at Oxford Performing Arts Center! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Thursday, November 29, 2018

"Film is light and shadow..." Annie Baker's The Flick

One play audiences might not be as familiar with is Annie Baker's The Flick which received the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The story follows three movie ushers and the work necessary to keep "The Flick" up and running. This performance captures life, at times mundane and at other moments rich and entertaining. 
So we interviewed one of the performers, Jessika Holmes as she gets ready for opening.

How did you become interested in theatre? 
I started as a child and I never stopped. When I made it to college, I found out that there is a scholarly aspect to it and lovely analysis, which I love. It will keep changing and keep me interested for the rest of my life.

Who are some actors you most admire? 
I really only have cheesy answers to that, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence.
What's been your favorite part of the Flick? 
My favorite part of the Flick has been the intimate actor work that this production requires and depends on. This play is life on stage.

Why should folks come see the show?
It's intimate and beautiful. You do not get a chance to see this kind of theatre often. It is an experience and a small look into life and who we are.

Come catch this show, Thursday, November 29 and Friday, November 30 beginning at 7:30 P.M. at the Stone Center at Jacksonville State University. 
With some adult language and situations, this piece is appropriate for ages 15 and up.

"My Colors are Blush & Bashful!"

Dylan Hurst
As they prep, we sat down with Steel Magnolias' Director Dylan Hurst & Assistant Director Tristan Waid to ask them a few questions about theatre and the process of building this show.

- How did you become interested in theatre? 
Tristan: Watching my big brother while he was a student at JSU. 
Dylan: I became interested in theatre when I was 11 and my mom decided to help our backstage for CAST’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. Watching the show come together from the first table read to the final production was so amazing to me I knew I had to be a part of the magic. 

- Who are some actors you most admire? 
Tristan: Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, and Lily Tomlin. 
Dylan: I admire anyone who can make a career out of acting. It’s not an easy thing to do and it requires a lot of hard work into something that may never pay of. But I have a sweet spot for old Hollywood performers like Judy Garland and James Dean. 

- What's been your favorite part of building Steel Magnolias? Do you have a favorite moment or scene? 
Tristan: I enjoyed working on the first scene of Act 2 when Ouiser doesn't get that her grandson is gay. 
Tristan Waid
Dylan: My favorite part of the Steel Magnolias process has been directing the more emotional scenes. It’s not often in community theatre that we get to dramatic shows. Most of the time people prefer to see comedies so it’s always great when as an actor or director you get to dive in to raw human emotion. M’Lynn’s pivotal emotional break has been a very therapeutic thing to direct for me personally. 
My favorite moment in our production of Steel Magnolias has to be the end of the first scene of Act 2. It’s a fun scene with a lot of heart and when Shelby leaves the beauty shop at the end and the lights begin to fade and all the ladies look as she leaves just touches my heart. It’s almost like a group of mothers watching their child leave for the first day of kindergarten and something about that sense of family just really makes you smile.

- Who should and why should folks come see the show? 
Tristan: It's a beautiful story of friendship and a great visual of the dynamic relationship of a mother and daughter.
Dylan: Everyone should come see Steel Magnolias! I think it gets cornered as a show that only appeals to women but that’s not the case. It’s a show that centers around strong female characters and how they cope with the things life throws at you. It’s a show about family, friendship, and community and how we lean on each other in times of joy and sorrow. That’s something that is universal and everyone can relate to. 

Come get your hair and nails done at Truvy's, with shows Thursday, November 29, Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1 at 7:30 PM, and there's a show Sunday, December 2, at 2:30 P.M., performed at the McClellan Theatre.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Walking through History

Georgia Calhoun, 89, is a walking history book. I had the privilege of sitting down and interviewing her about the Freedom Riders Monument. Calhoun has been involved with saving properties and artifacts that normally would be looked over, including the historical spots that witnessed the story of the Freedom Riders.
In the beginning, many parts of Anniston were opposed to marking the areas downtown that were associated with the events because it was assumed that would highlight an ugly  time of our history, but the reality is Anniston played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement in America.
The Freedom Riders were proving that federal laws were not being properly enforced not only in interstate travel but especially in the southern United States.
The importance of highlighting these occurrences goes deeper than creating negative stigma, and it stands alongside other events of the Civil Rights Movement: the Edmund Pettis Bridge, 16 th Street Baptist Church, and so many more. The Freedom Rider Monument represents the battle of  segregation and basic human rights that were denied.
When asked about her favorite element of the Freedom Riders Monument Calhoun replied “Janie Forsyth, and how she gave water to the Freedom Riders.” Calhoun encourages visitors, returning and new, to read the story and do some research on not only the burning of the bus but the contributing events that took place before or after.
Calhoun reminds us “As you pass through this way you are not just seeing Anniston as it
is now, but learning the history of Anniston then…if you don’t know where you are, you won’t know where you’ve been or where you’re going.”
Slow down, make that stop at 1031 Gurnee Avenue, and reach into the rich history of Anniston, Alabama. “Even at 89,  I’ll be fighting to teach (the history or the Freedom Riders),” Calhoun exclaimed. Sunday, May 14th, 1961 is a Mother’s Day that changed the America.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Behind the Scenes: Willy Wonka Jr.

This weekend, CASTKidz presents Willy Wonka Jr., so let's get to know Willy Wonka before we see the show. We sat down will Leila Acheson, who graces the stage and transforms a world of creativity and pure imagination and brings it to life with almost 100 CASTKidz. 
How did you become interested in theatre?
I’ve always loved the arts (singing, dancing, etc), but what really made me want to become involved with a theatrical program was going to see my best friend in a local musical at age 6. I was hooked!

Who are some actors you most admire and musicals you most love?
I greatly admire Amanda Jane Cooper (who is currently Glinda on Broadway) because she has kept a love for the Lord through her life and career, as well as the amazing Sutton Foster. How does one not adore her?!
There are so many musicals whose scores, lyrics and roles have inspired me, but the ones who have most affected me as both an actress and a person are Newsies and Anastasia. I had the privilege of seeing Anastasia in NYC this past April, and the overall beauty of the plot-progressing score struck me instantly! As an avid ballet, tap and jazz dancer, I also greatly enjoy the various dances within both of these musicals.

What made you want to get involved in CAST Kidz?
During the year before I joined Cast Kidz, I didn’t have a major theatrical outlet. I had attended several Cast Kidz performances previously, and I had several friends within the group. I was beyond delighted to find the class schedule matched my own!

What's been your favorite part of Willy Wonka?
My favorite part of playing such an iconic character as Willy Wonka is being able to bring a little touch of myself to the role. There is one point in the song “There’s No Knowing” in which I laugh maniacally, and being able to interpret the undercurrent of the following scene is such a joy!

Did you have a favorite number to rehearse and learn?
My favorite number is without a doubt “There’s No Knowing!" Wonka is rather unlike me in it, which forces me to fully immerse myself in the character!

Why should folks come see Willy Wonka with the whole family this weekend?
Everyone should come see Willy Wonka Jr because it is the perfect blend of a classic film and the magic of community theatre!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Christmas Village J'ville

Nancy Gillespie has been the Chairman of the Jacksonville Arts Council for 4 years. The Jacksonville Arts Council promotes the arts in schools and work with children all year long. The Arts Council is responsible for the Fair on the Square, Celebrate Jacksonville and the upcoming Christmas Village.

The Christmas Village will take place on Saturday, November 17th at the Jacksonville Community Center, the doors open at 9 AM. Admission to the event is free, but there will be many local vendors set up throughout the Village. Santa Claus will be there and available for pictures for a fee. Many of the vendors will offer hand-crafted products that you can’t get anywhere else. While a few vendors will accept cards, cash is highly recommended. Most of the proceeds made from the Christmas Village event will be poured back into the community to support the arts, music programs, and art programs in the schools as well. There will be a few performances throughout the event, starting with the Kitty Stone Elementary Choir at 10 AM. While admission is free to the event, donations are accepted graciously, and they can be made directly to schools or performers.

Between the hours of 9 AM – 12 PM, there will be a Children’s Shop for the younger kids. Nothing in the shop will be over a $1.00, so they can buy gifts for other family members. This is a fantastic opportunity to give the kids a chance to “shop” on their own accord and still support the community at the same time. Gillespie is most excited for the community interest that has followed the Christmas
Village, stating “The response we are getting not only from the vendors, but the community as well. People are excited and eager to see their favorite vendors return and what new vendors have to offer.”

The Christmas Village is a wonderful opportunity to jump off the holiday season, and grab few unique gifts as well. Come enjoy the day, and be prepared to have fun! Bring the entire family for a chance to get ahead on your Christmas shopping!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Little River CanyonFest

Nestled in the foothill of the Appalachian and atop Lookout Mountain, one finds an outdoor haven of waterfalls and cliffs called  Little River Canyon. This site was designated as a preserve in the National Park Service in 1992, and since then, this beautiful spot has welcomed millions of visitors to hike trails and take in the views. Located adjacent to Desoto State Park, locals and visitors have abundant recreational opportunities to seek.
This weekend is the Canyon Center's 10th Annual CanyonFest, “A Celebration of Art and Nature.” This day is filled with arts, crafts, music, educational programs, food and fun for the entire family. Pets welcome on leashes, and admission is FREE, while donations are appreciated.
So grab the whole family, take in the fall foliage and beautiful landscapes, and #OptOutside this weekend!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

November Things to Do

As fast as this year has gone it is wild to think that November will be here in a few short days. Now that all of the Halloween candy at Wal-Mart is 50% off, turkeys and stuffing will take their place. As the somewhat cooler weather surrounds us, events in Calhoun County will erupt.

Are you the "Dancing Queen?" November 2nd, Oxford Performing Arts Center will host an ABBA tribute band, which is sure to get you on your feet! 

Saturday, November 3rd, before the Gamecocks take on UT Martin and the Southerners reunite, check out the Food Truck Roundup on the Square and let your inner foodie try new things! 
If sports and food aren't for you, but you love outdoor recreation, check out Little River Canyon's CanyonFest on November 3rd, primetime for the color changing foliage.

Saturday, November 10th the Fall Art in the Park Festival will be held at Choccolocco Park. Hosted by Artworks Alliance, this festival will host various areas of the arts including ceramics, glass (stained and blown), wood, metalwork, and so much more! Not only is this a great opportunity to educate the family, but a perfect place to start holiday shopping for your loved ones! Gates open at 10 A.M and the festival lasts until 4 P.M.

Sunday, November 11th the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, along with a regular guest of the Atlanta Braves Timothy Miller, will take the stage at the Oxford Performing Arts Center! This night is dedicated to honoring veterans of all branches. Tickets are available for purchase at . Come and enjoy a night filled with beautiful voices and patriotic reason!

November 15, actor and singer Kris Kristofferson takes to the OPAC stage.

If you love arts, community theatre and kids, mark your calendar for Willy Wonka Jr. at the Anniston Performing Arts Center on November 17th & 18th, presented by CASTKidz! 

Many don't know that Calhoun County is also home to a German Italian POW Cemetery, and each November on German Memorial Day, there is a wreath laying and presenting of the colors alongside German and Italian delegation from Redstone.

Friday, November 30th at the Oxford Performing Arts Center Aaron Tippin will be celebrating twenty-five years in the music industry. Tippin first signed with RCA in Nashville, TN in the 90’s. Tippin’s acoustic performance starts at 7:30 P.M. sharp. Tickets are available at and start at $19.

Don’t wait till the last minute to find things to do on the weekend, make plans in advance and bring friends! Spend the remaining weeks of 2018 making memories that you’ll never forget! There are many family friendly events around Calhoun County this November!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Fall Foliage Hot Spots

If you have ever been one to explore the outdoors, I highly recommend opting outside in the next few weeks. With the weather finally cooling off, the bugs and other pests are far and few between, making for a more enjoyable hike or nature walk. A light jacket is just enough protection against the elements in these conditions.

As Calhoun County sits nestled in foothills of the Appalachian Mountain Range there truly are natural attractions everywhere. The trees go through the seasonal change and the rolling mountains will turn to a sea of maroon and gold. It is not something you want to miss. Some of the top spots to witness this authentic phenomenon are within driving distance of Calhoun County.

Cheaha State Park is an obvious option, and as the highest point in Alabama, there is a guarantee for fantastic views. Cheaha offers a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, golfing, fishing, zip lines, and much more! If you want a weekend getaway (kids included or excluded), Cheaha also has various deals on cabins or rooms at the hotel.

Cherokee Rock Village is located in Leesburg, AL. A day spent here can result in hiking trails, bird watching, geocaching, rock climbing, and additional activities. Cherokee Rock Village has options for visitors of all ages to go explore the area, including finding the Natural Stone Arch, which can put a competitive edge to a hike. Views from the top are not like any other, with the main overlook offering a view of the flat lands and connecting lakes. Primitive camping is also an option to endure the wilderness.

If you are interested in a less trafficked area Duggar Mountain Wilderness Area is a prospective spot. This wilderness spot became a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System in December of 1999. The boundaries cover more than 9,000 acres and include a large portion of the Pinhoti Trail. Most of the trails are covered by the forest treetops, so the colors of fall are great in these conditions!

Exploring the fall foliage is a fantastic way to spend quality time and a budget friendly option too! With many levels of beginner trails in the immediate area, the possibilities are endless. No spot is the same, and the views will stand out. Maybe the Christmas card can have a natural edge to it!

"She Kills Monsters"

For weeks, the students and faculty in the drama department at Jacksonville State University have been busy preparing for their upcoming production of She Kills Monsters.
A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with the team behind this production.
The individuals, immersed in the production of She Kills Monsters, are driven by their love for
theatre. Many of the students like Christian Watts and Chloe Barnes got involved at a young age
or during their high school years. For others like Kevin Jannot, affiliation with the arts runs in
the family; a few were just adopted into the world of theatre.
She Kills Monsters, written by Qui Nguyen, is a production like no other. The director for this
production, Dr. Michael Boynton, makes it known, “I don’t think anything in Calhoun County
has been quite like this production of She Kills Monsters.”
This production features heavy technical elements including advanced puppetry, lighting, projections, original music, detailed costumes, videography, and more. Some of the cast favorites include a throne made of human bones and a pair of flailing human arms used as weapons. Set in the 1990’s, She Kills Monsters is a comedic romp into the world of fantasy role-playing games. She Kills Monsters tells the story of Agnes Evans as she leaves her childhood home in Ohio following the death of her teenage sister, Tilly. However, when Agnes finds Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook, she stumbles into a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was Tilly’s refuge.
This truly is a show for young adults, college students, and adults alike. According to the team, She Kills Monsters encourages people to “accept weirdos, love weirdos, and let them become a part of the family.” The female driven show speaks to and addresses themes such as bullying, and LGBT advocacy, all while keeping audiences on the edge of the seat as they witness epic, Lord of the Rings style fighting.
The cast includes Allison Lawley, Chloe Barnes, Christian Watts, Benjamin Marazzi, Anika Corsi, Tiffany Jenkins, Jessika Holmes, Abbie Beatty, Ashe Fadely, Jaden Vaughn, Jesse Curvin, and Kevin Jannot.
“This is the biggest most complicated show we have ever done by far here at JSU … ever, and that’s including over 50 years of theatre.” Dr. Boynton exclaimed during in the interview. She Kills Monsters takes the stage on Friday, October 26th at 7:30 PM and runs through Monday, October 29th. Shows on Friday, October 26th , Saturday, October 27th , and Monday, October 29th are at 7:30 PM, while the show on Sunday, October 28 th is at 2:30 PM. Tickets are available at or in the box office prior to the show. She Kills Monsters is appropriate for those ages 15+ and includes some adult language, violence, and of course, monsters.

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."