Thursday, November 9, 2017

Decatur-Morgan County CVB Announces Name Change

Decatur, Ala. (November 9, 2017) – The Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau announced today that the organization’s board of directors approved an organizational name change to Decatur Morgan County Tourism, Inc. effective immediately.

The name change is part of the rebranding initiative to move towards creating a new brand destination and to better align the organization’s name with its current and future tourism efforts. “When I accepted the position of president in 2013, I knew that I had wonderful resources and stories to promote, but I also thought that we needed to move towards creating a new brand destination,” stated Decatur Morgan County Tourism President and CEO Melinda Dunn. “Our name was too long and didn’t accurately reflect our scope of work and our logo, which had served us well for many years, had become dated and needed a refresh. Visitors, vendors and tourism partners will find no change in the quality of services offered as we make the transition to the new name.”

Along with the new name, the organization is sporting a new logo and has adopted a new tagline of Create Your Adventure. The new logo and tagline will be incorporated into all advertising and promotional efforts. The logo features rich warm, earthy tones and incorporates the abbreviation for the state of Alabama into the design to distinguish Decatur Morgan County Tourism from other cities named Decatur.

“Decatur and Morgan County is filled with opportunities for adventure. Our rebrand team loved the idea of being able to create your adventure with the implication of choice and creativity given to each person to define what adventure means to them. Maybe your idea of adventure is to explore your genealogy at the Morgan County Archives or trace the events of the Civil War. For a family with young children, their idea of adventure might be witnessing the colorful spectacle of hot air balloons as they float through the sky at the Alabama Jubilee. To a foodie, adventure might be to going to the Farmer’s Market and gathering an abundance of fresh, local produce to make a special meal, or trying a different local restaurant or local dish each week of the year for one year. For outdoor enthusiasts, your adventure might be paddling the backwaters of the Tennessee River. I could go on and on about the adventures that we have to share, and with our new name, logo and tagline, our team at Decatur Morgan County Tourism will proactively work to bring visitors to our city and county,” said Dunn. 

As part of the rebranding efforts, Decatur Morgan County Tourism is working on the development of a fresh, new web site that reflects the new name, tagline and incorporates more of the features that tech-savy traveler’s demand. Estimated launch is late spring of 2018.

For more information on the new name and logo, call Dunn at 256.350.2028. For full press materials, including new and old company logo graphics, contact Maryanne Floyd, Decatur Morgan County Tourism communications director, at
Award Recipients and 2016 Tourism Figures for Decatur and Morgan County Announced

Decatur, Ala. (November 9, 2017) – During the annual tourism breakfast hosted by the Decatur Morgan County Tourism and the Decatur/Morgan County Hospitality Association on November 9, 2017, at Ingalls Harbor Pavilion, tourism figures for 2016 and six awards were presented and five corporate companies were recognized for excellence in tourism.

According to the most recent economic impact analysis conducted by the Alabama Tourism Department, travel-related expenditures for Morgan County in 2016 exceeded $179 million, an increase of 12.8 % from 2015. Annual state lodging taxes collected in Morgan County in 2016 garnered over $900,000. The tourism and travel industry within Decatur and Morgan County provided 2,080 direct and indirect jobs for local residents and total travel-related earnings for Morgan County exceeded $48 million, reflecting a 7.8% increase. “Tourism puts money in the pockets and purses of our local citizens,” said Decatur Morgan County Tourism President/CEO Melinda Dunn. “Without the dollars collected by the tourism industry, each household in the state would end up paying $444 more in additional taxes, according to the reports developed by economist Dr. Keivan Deravi.”

According to the report, statewide tourism industry has grown by 5.4% with more than 25 million visitors spending $13.3 billion and creating $836 million in state and local tax revenues in 2016. An estimated 179,644 jobs are attributable to tourism and the total impact of the travel industry on Alabama’s earnings in 2016 is estimated at over $4.7 billion. The general fund of the State of Alabama received over $49.4 million from lodging tax revenues and travel spending in Alabama has doubled over the previous 14 years. 

Wade Weaver, treasurer of the Decatur Morgan County Tourism board of directors, stated, “When we hear the word industry, we tend to think in traditional terms such as the processing of raw materials and manufacturing of goods in factories. However, tourism is an industry, and it is proving to be a natural in its role as a key economic driver in our local and state economy. It continues to be a sweet time for tourism in our Sweet Home Alabama.”

This year’s theme for the annual tourism breakfast was Tourism: It’s In Our Nature. During the presentation, Decatur Morgan County Tourism took time to reflect on growth resulting in new visitors and revenue to the city and county. Decatur and Morgan County boast over two dozen annual events that bring over 100,000 visitors to the area. The special events and tournaments hosted in the area encompass activities that range from soccer to dog shows, tennis to fishing, Ultimate Frisbee to Lacrosse, horse shows to hockey. “Over 8,000 documented hotel rooms from events hosted in the area translate into an economic impact of over $5.9 million dollars for Morgan County alone,” said Dunn.

Additional developments of 2016 that had a positive impact on tourism growth in Decatur include:

- From 2009 to 2016, using data only from events where the Decatur Morgan County Tourism served as the official housing bureau, sporting activities at Jack Allen Recreation Complex, which include soccer, lacrosse, archery and ultimate, brought in a documented 41,821 room nights for the area and an economic impact of $30,909,108. 

- Decatur Morgan County Tourism received a grant to develop three new pieces promoting local heritage to include a new African American Pioneers Brochure, signage for the Burleson Fine Arts Center and a brochure to accompany the new Trail of Tears Interpretive Trail and its signage that was installed in 2017.   

- Decatur and Morgan County received national media attention on ESPN and Fox Sports SE through coverage of various sporting events that include fishing on Wheeler Lake and softball at Wilson Morgan Park. 

- Point Mallard Park was named as one of Alabama’s top 10 tourist attractions for 2016 by the Alabama Tourism Department.

- A new state-of-the-art visitor’s kiosk was installed at the Ardmore Welcome Center this year. The kiosk provides tourists a new way to discover Decatur and Morgan County by providing instant access to information on attractions, festivals and local businesses. Additionally, a new visitor panel located above a key entry that visually connects to the display was installed.  Each year, over one million visitors stop at Ardmore.

During the annual breakfast, the Decatur/Morgan County Hospitality Association honored area hotels, industries, and citizens with its annual awards. Based on data submitted from seven participating hotels in Decatur, the Top Five Corporate Companies producing the most room nights in Morgan County during 2016 were recognized. Those receiving recognitions were Toray with 1,824 room nights; 3M with 1,905 room nights; Nucor with 2,461 room nights; United Launch Alliance with 3,636 room nights; and Hexcel with 5,346 room nights.

Each year, the Decatur/Morgan County Hospitality Association selects an Event of the Year and honors its impact on Decatur and Morgan County. This year’s honoree is a relatively new event that has shown significant growth since its inception five years ago. The 2017 Event of the Year is Battle at the Jack. This three-day tournament attracts up to 120 teams from across the Southeast, bringing some of the region’s best youth soccer players to Decatur and producing 367 room nights in September. Hosted by the River City United Soccer Club, Battle at the Jack is an Alabama Soccer Association and United States Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) sanctioned tournament that offers competitive soccer opportunities. Funds raised from this event are used to support soccer scholarships for children.

The Good Neighbor Award is given to a person, business, organization or entity whose body of work has had a significant impact on local tourism. The “Good Neighbor” may be an event organizer who lives out of town but helps with events in Morgan County; it can be an organization or business that significantly supports local events, or a person whose job may be outside the typical realm of tourism but whose work has made a difference. When Hurricane Irma forced people to flee their homes seeking refuge in Decatur and Morgan County, many local hotels hosted evacuees and made this difficult time in their lives easier and local citizens and churches sprung into action and brought food. The Good Neighbor Award is presented to all of those individuals and organizations that assisted the evacuees during their stay in Decatur.

The Tourism Professional of the Year award is presented to the person who has exhibited extraordinary leadership skills and initiative associated with their position. This year’s nominations were so strong that it resulted in a tie. The members of the Decatur-Morgan County Hospitality Association elected to name a King and Queen Tourism Professional of the Year. The Tourism Professional of the Year was awarded to Mr. Scott Suenaga of the Courtyard by Marriott and Ms. Seyma Njbigbo of the Best Western.

To go along with Decatur Morgan County Tourism’s new tag line, a new award was presented at this year’s tourism breakfast. The first recipient of the Create Your Adventure award is Mr. Art Thrash with the Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic. Thrash has served on the Alabama Jubilee committee and also has been the pilot for the city’s balloon for many years. He is retiring as pilot this year.

Presented to a person, or persons, within Morgan County who has contributed significantly beyond their professional duty to the development and promotion of tourism for the betterment of Decatur and Morgan County, the 2017 Julian Walker “Mr. Tourism” Award was awarded to Mr. Tyler Jones, owner of The RailYard and Whisk’d Café. 

The Gilmer Blackburn Legacy Award was created as a means of recognizing an individual who has shown a long lasting and permanent contribution to the industry over the years and has helped change the tourism landscape of Morgan County. It is named in honor of the late Mayor Blackburn who was instrumental in developing the foundation of the tourism industry here. For his service to Decatur and Morgan County and the tourism industry, Jimmy D. Smith of Jimmy Smith Jewelers was presented with the 2017 Gilmer Blackburn Legacy Award.

For more information on tourism figures and awards, contact Melinda Dunn at 800.524.6181 or 256.350.2028.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Celebrate Back to School at 3rd Friday

Downtown Decatur’s monthly block party takes to the streets this Friday, August 18 for an evening of music, shopping, dining, classic cars and vendors. In celebration of back to school, festivalgoers are encouraged to bring school supplies to benefit local children.   

Organized by the Downtown Merchants and Business Association, 3rd Friday gets underway at 5:30 p.m. This month’s celebration features a school supply drive and festival goers are asked to bring donations to Jones Park to benefit the local Boys and Girls Club.  

While antique cars line 2nd Avenue, some of the area’s best musicians and entertainers will be performing at various locations. Performers slated for Friday include Elvis impersonator Michael Dean at the Princess Theatre, Divide by Zero at Gyro Uno, Lindsey Gravitt at Downtown Dawgs and Wild Paisley at Kathleen’s. Everyone is also invited to a street dance party led by Delandrion Woods at the intersection of Moulton and 2nd Avenue.

Craft vendors selling handmade items and artists and artesian goods vendors will fill the area of 2nd Avenue from Moulton Street to Johnston Street. Additional store specials, giveaways, and discounts will be offered at select retailers, and many of the merchants will remain open until 8 p.m. or later.

3rd Friday is concentrated in the 2nd Avenue area only (including Holly Street, Moulton Street, Johnston Street and Grant Street). Beginning at 4:30 p.m. streets will begin to be blocked and will be closed to traffic from 5:30 until 9:00 p.m. Antique and classic cars are asked to be in place by 5:30 p.m. For more information on 3rd Friday, visit

Third Friday’s was first organized in 2009 by merchants as a way to attract locals and visitors to the downtown area. Presenting sponsor is Budweiser. Additional sponsors include Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority, Magnolia River, Bank Independent, Decatur/Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, Cook’s Pest Control, Morgan County Commission, Nucor Steel, 3M, Peck-Glasgow Insurance, Renasant Bank, Stovall-Marks Insurance and King Insurance Agency. The Downtown Merchants and Business Association wishes to thank the City of Decatur Parks and Recreation Department for the tremendous support they provide to the event as an in-kind sponsor.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Weekend Retreat to Satisfy Both Sexes

Summer is here, which of course, means it’s time to take a break from reality and gather your friends for a weekend getaway. Still trying to decide on the ideal location? Look no further than Decatur, Alabama. Nestled along the Tennessee River, Decatur is a Southern oasis perfectly tailored to host a weekend full of activities for both sexes. No matter what your group is into, this charming city has the total package.  

Shopping, sunning, and, spas- the quintessential recipe for the perfect girls’ weekend

You will love the quality time with your ladies and feel like a million bucks while experiencing all that Decatur has to offer. Spend some time strolling the tree-lined streets of Decatur’s historic shopping district and explore the specialty shops offering a variety of eclectic items. You will surely find something to boost your wardrobe at Indigo’s and other unique boutiques found in the historic downtown Decatur and Hartselle shopping districts. In search of completely unique home décor? Kathleen’s Interiors in downtown Decatur has an incredible selection original furniture and artwork you never knew you always needed in your home!
If your crew is craving some fun in the sun, reconnect with your inner child at America’s first wave pool at Point Mallard Park. Relax in a float as you improve your summer tan and let the waves rock your worries away. When you need a break from that scorching heat, spend an afternoon in cushy robes with cucumber-covered eyes, and unwind with the girls in Decatur’s most exclusive day spa, deLoain. Pamper yourself with a relaxing pedicure or massage or renew your skin with a refreshing facial.
After a day of leisure, you’ve probably worked up quite the appetite! Round up the crew and head to Simp McGhee’s for fine dining spiced up with a Cajun twist! This storied local downtown dining hub boasts a tapas menu with shareable bites like the Crystal Shrimp Martini, dinner mains such as the creamy, garlicky Speegle, and the housemade fave speciality cocktail the Bank Street Tea. If you’re looking for a more casual dining option, check out Hard Dock, located right on the Tennessee River, and enjoy a beautiful Alabama sunset while listening to live music, sipping cocktails, and eating delicious seafood on the outdoor patio.
Spend a weekend outside with the guys
Plan an outdoor-fueled guys’ weekend by taking advantage of the Decatur’s many recreational activities. For the fishing enthusiasts, Wheeler Lake offers top-notch waters for dropping a line. Rife with bass and catfish, you’re bound to get a bite on this top-notch local fishery. Enjoy a peaceful day on the water... until you and your buddies start trying to decide who had the bigger catch!
If golfing is more your competitive speed, Point Mallard’s course is a great option for teeing up. With 200 acres of wooded flatlands right on the Tennessee River this scenic course is one to experience. It is open to the public and only $26 for an 18-hole round.
For a more leisurely day, head to historic Decatur to take a trip back in time with the self-guided Civil War walking tour. Beginning at the Old State Bank building, the thirteen-block walk chronicles events surrounding the four-day 1864 Battle of Decatur. History buffs will also enjoy the Blue and Gray Museum at 723 Bank Street, which is home to what is believed to be the largest collection of Civil War artifacts in the country.
Everyone knows any manly weekend isn’t complete without beer and meat. Moe’s BBQ provides a laid-back setting with live music, some of Alabama’s most beloved wings and a beer selection to meet all needs. The Railyard is another favorite with area beers on tap and a local farm and produce-based selection of mouth-watering Southern influenced dishes. Dine on roasted quail, venison and pork meatloaf, prime rib, or lamb shank—this menu leaves no meat behind!
Where to turn in for the night 
After you’ve delighted in dining, dancing, and live music at Decatur’s various venues like The Hard Dock, The Brick, and the historic Princess Theatre, your crew will want a cozy place to call it a night. Whether your group prefers comfy hotel beds and continental breakfasts or sleeping under the stars, Decatur has options for every style of respite at every single price point. The Point Mallard campgrounds have 210 shaded camp sites over 25 wooded acres. Waste no time in finding your ideal spot and getting right to the many activities in Point Mallard Park that are walking distance to the grounds! If WiFi and room service are necessities, the Decatur Riverfront DoubleTree has you covered. They offer a variety of amenities including an indoor/outdoor pool and fitness center. No worries if you need to use those Marriott points—Decatur has a lovely Courtyard Marriott as well! In addition, the newly opened Home2 at Ingalls Harbor has an array of posh rooms perfect for crashing hard at the end of all your distinctly Decatur adventures!
 However you choose to design your weekend in Decatur, your friends are sure to love you for it! For more information on Decatur’s many attractions and lodging options visit or call 800-524-6181.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Out With The Old and In With The New

Tourists to the popular Ardmore Welcome Center now have a new way to discover Decatur and Morgan County.
Each year, over one million visitors stop at the Ardmore Alabama Welcome Center. “It is important that the DMCCVB offer an inviting and welcoming presence to prospective guests as they enter into Alabama at this extremely busy welcome center,” said DMCCVB President and CEO Melinda Dunn.
Working with Joel McWhorter and the McComm Group, a new design was developed to replace the dated visitor kiosk that had stood in the Ardmore Welcome Center for many years. The new design is rich in images that showcase the unique flavor of Decatur and Morgan County. McWhorter and the McComm group worked with Expo Displays on the kiosk’s fabrication. The new kiosk also features a video panel that continuously plays a video on Morgan County produced by Juergen Beck of Freedom Light Productions and funded through the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. The video component is interchangeable and the DMCCVB can provide videos specific to upcoming events in the area.
Additionally, a new visitor panel located above a key entry that visually connects to the display invites guests to come and play and further strengthen the presence of Decatur and Morgan County at the Ardmore Welcome Center. The display panel is made possible through funding from Senator Arthur Orr. The production of the new kiosk was funded by the DMCCVB.
County Commissioner Don Stisher and his crew assisted with the removal of the former display. Since the new display’s installation, interest from the traveling public has sharply increased, resulting in a higher percentage of brochure pickup at the center. Dunn noted, “Within minutes of the kiosk’s installation, families had gathered around to watch the video and absorb the images that depict our story and flavor.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

CONTACT: Melinda Dunn, President & CEO
Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Decatur to Host 26 Lacrosse Teams this Weekend
River City Rivalry returns to Jack Allen Recreation Complex June 17-18.

Decatur, Ala. (June 13, 2017) – Twenty-six teams from across the Southeast will make their way to Decatur this weekend for an exciting two days of lacrosse action when the Jack Allen Recreation Complex (JARC) hosts the River City Rivalry. Returning for the fifth year, the River City Rivalry is set for June 17-18, 2017, and admission is free to the public.

The River City Rivalry features full field format with a guaranteed four game minimum play (weather permitting). Each game consists of two 22-minute halves. Day one features “round robin” pool play and day two is championship bracket play.

Twenty-six teams are registered to compete and this year’s tournament offers two girls divisions:  high school with graduation years 2018-2021 and middle school with graduation years 2021-2023. Teams registered to compete will be traveling from within Alabama and from across the southeastern United States including Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. This year’s tournament also includes a team traveling from Indiana.

“While lacrosse guests are visiting Decatur, Alabama, they are invited to experience our local flavor by participating in events such as 3rd Friday in downtown Decatur. On Saturday evening, a team barbecue will be held at Ingalls Pavilion to provide fun and entertainment. The Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s hot air balloon will welcome guests to the evening of local barbecue and field games,” said Decatur-Morgan County CVB President and CEO Melinda Dunn.

All games will be played at the JARC located at 2616 Modaus Road SW in Decatur. The tournament is open to the public and admission is free. Parking is $10 per day or $15 for both days. For more information on the facility, visit

For the past twelve years, the Jack Allen Recreation Complex has hosted local, regional, and national soccer tournaments attracting thousands of amateur and professional players and earning a reputation as a world-class facility nationally and internationally. In 2013, the complex welcomed the first River City Rivalry tournament attracting hundreds of lacrosse players plus coaches, family members and fans from across the southeastern United States. The event impacted all areas of Decatur including hotels, local restaurants, retail merchants and entertainment venues. According to Dunn, the event in 2016 had an economic impact of $250,000 for the city of Decatur.

For more information on the River City Rivalry tournament, contact Tournament Directors Pam McNabb at 404.423.8177 or Melanie Johnson at 770.317.3476 or visit

About The Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCCVB)

The Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau is a not-for-profit organization promoting tourism and economic growth in Morgan County. For information on special events and attractions in Decatur, contact the DMCCVB at 800.524.6181 or 256.350.2028; or visit its website at  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Water Wonderland Awaits in Decatur, Alabama

While the first day of summer isn’t officially until June 21st, those among us living, working, and playing in the Deep South know good and well that it’s felt like the summertime solstice for well over a month. In fact, we tend to skip right over spring and onto the steamiest part of the year. But before you plan to keep you and your family cooped up to avoid the sweltering temps, consider combating those summertime blues with the refreshing water recreation available exclusively in Decatur, Alabama.
Situated along the breathtaking Tennessee River, Decatur offers a host of cooling, water-centric spots to check out. From man made water parks to natural estuaries and plenty of unique offerings in between, your best summertime memories are waiting to be made in this North Alabama water wonderland!

Point Mallard
Point Mallard’s official opening date is May 27th—and not a moment too soon as the temperature starts to rise and the humidity causes everyone’s hair to expand considerably. This Decatur staple is home to the world’s very first wave pool, a claim to fame that persists now even 47 years into its existence. Point Mallard Park is also home to some of Decatur’s best festivals with the Alabama Jubilee, Spirit of America, and Battle for Decatur all held on site each year. A veritable water park by the water, Point Mallard is uniquely situated along the Tennessee River and provides plenty of amusement for every single member of your brood. The Double Drop Speed Slides will appeal to the daredevils among you, while the Lazy River offers the leisurely drifting befitting of those who crave the full relaxation vacation vibe. In addition, a Towering Sky Pond, three Flume Slides, and idyllic Lagoon round out the full heat-busting quench served up in Decatur’s can’t-miss Point Mallard. You’ll even discover a spacious campground area for when you’re ready to call it a day and a golf course for those who crave some serious tee time. Check out more about the destination made for the pluckiest of travelers at

Riverwild Playground and Garden
For the ultimate place to make a splash this summer, round up the troops for a trip to Riverwild Playground and Garden. The kiddos are sure to love standing under the park’s towering fountains for a soak, while the adults will marvel at the site’s living history. Complete with a family-friendly Bathhouse and wheelchair-accessible splashpad, Riverwild offers H20 respite and revelry for all ages. Riverwild also features a playground of dreams for the youngest members of your family and plenty of places to enjoy a picnic lunch. Meander through the Trail of History, a path that winds through the park that beautifully interprets the park’s development as well as its significance as a historic site in a storied part of town. And for those who are looking to experience a bit of art and nature amid all the water play, Riverwild’s Sculpture Garden celebrates the Tennessee River wildlife with giant monuments of Decatur’s finest fauna with heron, bullfrog, dragonfly, turtle, and beaver statues. Be sure to check out the Delano Rose Garden on site for the perfect family photo op to commemorate your North Alabama Adventure!

Wheeler Wildlife Refuge
If you’re in search of pastoral elegance on your family vacation this summer, Wheeler Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place to celebrate a break from your daily grind. The Tennessee River runs right through the Refuge, which means ample opportunity to engage in aquatic action like canoeing or kayaking. Expend some of the kids’ energy, paddle in hand, as you make your way through Wheeler’s focal point. June is the optimal time to cast your line for bluegill and bass, too, as these angles are in abundance during this part of the summer. The sparkling waters you’ll witness will certainly leave you with a new appreciation for one of Decatur’s most precious natural resources.

Wheeler Lake
For fishing enthusiasts, Wheeler Lake offers up fresh catches and waterside bonding—hook, line, and sinker! Load up the family, and take your boat out on the serene waters of Decatur’s delightful lake. As an integral part of the Alabama Bass Trail, you’ll find plenty of angling opportunities for fun in the sun sure to provide everyone in your family with fish tales worth telling time and time again. For more lake recreation to include in your North Alabama vacation, check out fishalabama.or.

Big Bob Gibson’s 
All that splish-splashing and gallivanting gets the appetite going. When it comes to a delicious meal suited for every member of your water-lovin’ party, you can’t go wrong with Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ. Long heralded for their North Alabama white barbecue sauce, Big Bob Gibson’s has been feeding hungry families melt-in-your-mouth meals of pulled pork, ribs, smoked chicken, and “Heaven High” meringue pies since 1952. The proof is truly in the award-winning barbecue dishes as Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ just earned the highly sought-after Grand Championship title during the Memphis in May International Festival for the fifth year! Whether you’ve worked up an appetite after traipsing through fountains and wading through pools or you’re looking for the very best stuff to pack in your picnic basket, Big Bob Gibson’s serves up sumptuous barbecue, sides, and pies that’ll give you plenty of reasons to come on back to Decatur long after the summer heat has subsided.
For more about Decatur’s distinct offerings and for lodging to accommodate your family’s summertime getaway, visit today!