Walker County featured in new state travel itineraries

By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 12/7/17

Several sites in Walker County are featured in a new set of printed travel itineraries highlighting points of interest around the state.

The ConnectLivity itineraries were developed around 12 themes: architecture/landscape, Alabama makers, arts, cars/motorcycles/rockets, claims to fame, civil rights, food and beverage, kids and family, Native American, natural wonders, outdoor and who knew.

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Walker County featured in new state travel itineraries

Posted

Several sites in Walker County are featured in a new set of printed travel itineraries highlighting points of interest around the state.

The ConnectLivity itineraries were developed around 12 themes: architecture/landscape, Alabama makers, arts, cars/motorcycles/rockets, claims to fame, civil rights, food and beverage, kids and family, Native American, natural wonders, outdoor and who knew.

Local sites that are highlighted include the stained glass dome at Jasper’s First United Methodist Church (architecture), the Bankhead House and Heritage Center (claims to fame and “who knew,” as in, “who knew that was there”), the Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site (natural wonders) and Faye Whittemore Farms (outdoor).

In addition, the food brochure lists the “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die,” which includes Green Top Cafe’s barbecue and Black Rock Bistro’s Catfish Pontchartrain.

The Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell, Natural Bridge and the Sipsey Wilderness are among the points of interest included from neighboring counties.

DesignAlabama, a nonprofit that promotes design and design professionals in the state, created the itineraries in cooperation with several organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

“There are things in our state that so many of us are missing,” said Gina Clifford, executive director of DesignAlabama. “We wanted to tell people what they are and how to get there. We also wanted to get community members to begin thinking about ways to promote the assets they already have and foster tourism.”

Funding for the project was provided through the National Endowment for the Art’s Our Town grant program, which “supports local efforts to enhance quality of life and opportunity for existing residents, increase creative activity and create or preserve a distinct sense of place.”

In 2016, DesignAlabama hosted six regional planning meetings in which a group of community representatives contributed ideas for the itineraries.

Jasper hosted the meeting for the Central Alabama region, which included more than a dozen counties stretching from Marion and Lamar counties on the Mississippi-Alabama line to Cleburne and Randolph counties on the Alabama-Georgia line.

Tana Collins, director of public relations for Bevill State Community College, was one of the local residents who helped select destinations for the itineraries.

Collins said the itineraries were highly curated to make them as easy to use as possible.

“We were told not to do festivals because they are only once a year and we want people to be able to use these all of the time. We also stayed away from things like historic markers; there had to be something to tour,” said Collins, who helped research folk art and art museums for the project.

Meeting participants worked in groups and began their work by thinking about who would be visiting their community. For example, Collins’ group envisioned a retired couple with expendable income and an interest in the arts.

Each group was responsible for creating a map that included points of interest and routes that visitors would take when traveling for a daytrip or weekend getaway.

The itineraries are structured as fold-out brochures centered around the 12 themes. Each brochure contains a map with routes to various destinations, which are ranked as must-see, site of importance or site of interest.

The routes, marked in red, pass through towns where visitors can order one of the “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.”

The set of 12 brochures can be purchased now for $10 at DesignAlabama’s website, www.designalabama.org. A coffee table book is also available on the site for $15. One can click and bring up the “buy maps” link on the home page.