2012 designated as ‘The Year of Alabama Food’
by Jennifer Cohron
May 06, 2012 | 1719 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Alabama Tourism Department is celebrating 2012 as “The Year of Alabama Food.”

The department’s previous food campaign, held in 2005, received the award for best state tourism marketing campaign by the National Council of State Tourism Directors.

“Food is popular with everyone, and it has been one of our most successful campaigns. It was time to bring it back, but this time we want to highlight local food and our great chefs,” said tourism director Lee Sentell. “We have several new things planned for 2012 that we feel will showcase the best in food that Alabama has to offer.”

When the campaign kicked off in January during the FoodBlogSouth event in Birmingham, organizers announced that it would focus on award-winning chefs, farm-to-table, fresh gulf seafood and popular foods grown or made in Alabama.

As part of the celebration, the tourism department is promoting nearly 400 food festivals that cities and towns across the state are hosting this year.

The campaign website lists a “can’t-miss” food event for every month, from the Schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish Boil being held in Birmingham this weekend to Demopolis’ Christmas on the River Barbecue Cook-Off, which is the official Alabama State Barbecue Championship.

Other highlights include next weekend’s inaugural Alabama All-Star Food Festival in Montgomery, the Chilton County Peach Festival in June, Birmingham’s Stokin’ the Fire Barbecue Festival in August and Cullman’s Oktoberfest in the fall.

Communities in the state also have upcoming festivals dedicated to grits (Childersburg), okra (Burkville), butterbeans (Pinson), shrimp (Gulf Shores), pecans (Mobile) and peanuts (Dothan).

In August, the tourism department will hold a statewide “Restaurant Week” to encourage locally-owned and operated restaurants to showcase their dishes by offering meals at a discount.

The department’s “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die” brochure, which features two Walker County restaurants, has been updated for “The Year of Alabama Food.”

“We are excited about spotlighting lesser-known restaurants while continuing to showcase Southern classics,” Sentell said.

The department has also created a new barbecue trail. A few of the stops include Decatur’s Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Big Daddy’s Bar-B-Que in Warrior and Full Moon Bar-B-Que in Birmingham.

The campaign website also features trails that highlight culinary gems in north Alabama, the Magic City, central and lower Alabama as well as the Gulf Coast.

The website also features profiles of some of the state’s outstanding chefs, “secret” Alabama recipes, a list of the state’s nearly 135 farmers markets and a Farm to Table blog. For more information, visit www.yearofalabamafood.com.