Monday, March 31, 2014

The Easter Bunny is Hopping into the Decatur Mall

Capture a memory with your child during a visit with the Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny will arrive at Decatur Mall during a mall wide egg hunt on April 5 at 11 am.  “Kids big and small will be able to participate together at their own pace during this unique treasure hunt style event,” said Marketing Manager Kelli Batchelor.   The Egg Hunt will begin in the Belk Court.   Children are encouraged to bring a basket. 

Visits and Photos with the Easter Bunny will be available in the Belk Wing from April 5-19 (Monday – Saturday 10 am to 8 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 6 pm).  There is no charge to visit the Easter Bunny; however, visitors may purchase a photo package.  Visit for photo package options and pricing.

The Bunny Experience can continue after the visit to the mall through the website which allows customers to download their digital Easter photo, share their photos thru social media as well as create photo projects with  Visitors to the Easter Bunny at Decatur Mall will receive a $10 to $20 Shutterfly gift card with any of the five photo packages available. Looking for more Easter fun for your kids, an app, MyHolidayMoments is available through iTunes or Google Play for free which has games, a countdown to Easter as well as the ability to check photo package prices and retrieve your photo on your mobile device.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest Winners Announced


Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge was the sight for the judging of the 2014 Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest.  The judging took place on Tuesday, March 25 at the Visitor Center.  This year’s “Best of Show” again goes to Timothy Schreiber of Lincoln, Alabama.  Tim’s entry of a Mallard drake was chosen out of 453 entries from throughout the state.  He was also the 2013 Best of Show winner.  All of the three first place winners in each age category will be invited to an awards banquet at the headquarters of the Alabama Wildlife Federation in Prattville, Alabama, to receive a luncheon, recognition, plaque, and $50 worth of art supplies. 

Judges for this year’s contest were Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau President Melinda Dunn, Alabama Wildlife Federation Board Member Nathan McCollum, Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association Vice President Susan Estes, Alabama Department of Conservation Wildlife Biologist Jud Easterwood, and Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Manager Dwight Cooley.

The Junior Duck Stamp competition begins each spring when students submit their artwork to state or territory contests. At the state level, students are judged in four groups according to grade level: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12.  Three first, three second, and three third place entries, along with 16 honorable mentions, are selected for each group. Contest judges select a “Best of Show” from the twelve first place winners. Each state or territory “Best of Show” is then submitted to the Federal Duck Stamp Office and entered into the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest.

The first place art from the national contest is used to create a National Junior Duck Stamp each year. The stamp is sold by the U.S. Postal Service and Amplex Corporation consignees for $5 per stamp. The Junior Duck Stamp cannot be used for postage; proceeds from its sale support conservation education and provide awards and scholarships for participating students, teachers, and schools.
Wheeler NWR provides 35,000 acres of wetland, fields, and forest habitat for migrating, nesting, and wintering birds.  Year-round nature related activities are offered for visitors.  For more information call the Visitor Center at 350-6639 or visit the Wheeler NWR website at and the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association website at  

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Decatur to Host Three Tennis Tournaments in April

Next month, hundreds of high school and collegiate tennis players will make their way to the Jimmy Johns Tennis Center located in the heart of Point Mallard Park for three separate tournaments. Austin High School will host a tennis tournament attracting 32 teams from across northern Alabama and Tennessee the first weekend, April 4-5, 2014. The Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) Region XXII tennis state championship will take to the courts the following weekend, April 11-12, with the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) 4A tennis state championship slated for April 21-22.

Set for April 4-5, 2014, thirty-two teams will be participating in the Austin High School tennis Tournament at the Jimmy Johns Tennis Center. Sixteen boys’ teams are registered to participate and they include teams from Auburn, Austin, Muscle Shoals, Hillcrest, Walker, Trussville, Cullman, Northridge, Tuscaloosa County, Decatur, McGill-Toolen, West Point, Briarwood Christian, Cookeville, Tenn., Hendersonville, Tenn., and Blackman, Tenn. Sixteen girls’ teams will also be competing and they include teams from Deshler, Austin, Muscle Shoals, Hillcrest, Decatur, Tuscaloosa County, West Point, Briarwood Christian, Cullman, Trussville, Northridge, Lauderdale County, Walker, Cookeville, Tenn., Hendersonville, Tenn., and Blackman, Tenn. The first match gets underway on Friday at 3 p.m. and on Saturday, the tournament resumes at 8 a.m.

Three men’s teams and three women’s teams are expected to compete in the ACCC competition April 11-12 where an invitation to Nationals is on the line. This will be the fourth appearance for the ACCC Tennis State Championship in Decatur. The Jimmy Johns Tennis Center hosted the prestigious event in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Faulkner State, Marion Military Institute, and Snead State will have women’s teams competing. Men’s teams looking to capture the title will be from Faulkner State, Gadsden State, and Marion Military Institute. On Friday, April 11, a coaches’ meeting is set for 2 p.m. with the first round of doubles and singles starting immediately after the meeting. Play resumes at approximately 10 a.m. the next morning. For more information on ACCC, visit its website at

The Jimmy Johns Tennis Center will host the AHSAA Tennis State Class 4A Tournament April 21-22, making it the fifth appearance for an AHSAA state championship in Decatur. A total of 24 teams – 12 girls’ teams and 12 boys’ teams – will take part in the high school competition which gets underway on Monday, April 21 at 8 a.m. with matches held until sunset. Play resumes on Tuesday, April 22 at 8:30 a.m. For more information, visit Combined, these tournaments should produce an economic impact of over $75K for the city of Decatur and Morgan County.
Located adjacent to the Point Mallard Waterpark, the Jimmy Johns Tennis Center contains four clay and fourteen hard courts including two indoor courts. The venue also includes meeting space and a pro shop. For more information on the Jimmy Johns Tennis Center, visit or

Friday, March 21, 2014

Over 200 Youth Soccer Teams to Travel to Decatur for International Soccer Tournament

Third annual Open Cup is set for April 11-13, 2014 at Jack Allen Recreation Complex.

The Open Cup, an Alabama Youth Soccer Association and United States Youth Soccer Association sanctioned tournament, is set to return to Decatur April 11-13, 2014. The tournament is expected to draw in over 200 teams from across the United States as well as internationally for three days of matches at the Jack Allen Recreation Complex. 

According to Event Organizer Scott Spencer, approximately 215 soccer teams are expected for this year’s tournament, including a number of international teams. “Five countries will be represented at the third annual Open Cup,” said Spencer. “Youth teams from Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Mexico, Bermuda, and across the United States are already registered and will be staying in the north Alabama region for up to six nights.”

The tournament is expected to generate more than 3,000 hotel room nights and nearly $1.7 million in direct spending in Decatur and surrounding areas. Most matches will be held at the Jack Allen Recreation Complex, one of the South’s premier soccer complexes boasting 11 fields and two championship fields with seating for up to 3,000 spectators, with the Spirit of America fields in Point Mallard Park as a secondary location.

The three day tournament offers USYSA affiliated Premier, Competitive, and Academy level U9-U19 girls’ and boys’ competitive soccer opportunities. There will be a minimum of two divisions per age division/gender – an elite level of play and 1-2 competitive divisions tiered lower. Trophies will be awarded to the championship and runner-up teams in each age division.

For complete registration information or more information on the tournament, visit    

For more information on the Jack Allen Recreation Complex, visit or   

Watercolor society of Alabama 73rd Annual Exhibit at the Carnegie

Carnegie Visual Arts Center presents the Watercolor Society of Alabama 73rd National Exhibit on display until April 19, 2014. The show, juried by Mr. Jeffery Bass of Pensacola, Forida, features 75 paintings by artists from across the USA.
Mr. Bass will also judge the paintings, awarding approximately $10,000 in prize money and patron merchandise awards. Mr. Bass is nationally known as a watercolorist, juror, educator, and author.  He completes historical subject paintings and fine art portraits for private collections and museums.  His work is represented in the Smithsonian, the Central Intelligence Agency, the International Spy Museum, the National Aviation Museum and the National WWI Museum, to name a few.  He has painted luminaries including President George H. W. Bush, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary of State George Schultz.  
The WSA’s yearly exhibitions represent excellence in the field of watercolor painting and generous prizes attract the best watercolor painters in the county to compete. Many paintings will be available for purchase and artists are availble for commission pieces as well.
The Watercolor Society of Alabama Annual National Exhibit has grown to be a respected and prestigious art exhibitions in the United States.  The WSA is non-profit national organization with a current membership of over 300 of whom 145 are Alabama residents.  William C. Morris, of Mobile, Alabama currently serves as President, Chairman of the Board, and leads the Society.

Watercolor Society of Alabama Awards
Award of Excellence
Chris Krupinski for Peaches and Queen Anne Cherries 
WSA Board of Directors’ Award
Dean Mitchell, Jammin in the Quarter 
Signature Member Award #2
Keiko Yasuoka, Fresh Winter Coat  
Signature Member Award #3
E. Jane Stoddard, Waiting for Action 
Signature Member Award #1
Marion Hylton, Ruins of Fort Union 
Juried Member Award #1
Toska Courbron, Parade Moment 
Juried Member Award #2
Vicki Monette, Rockers II 
WSA Merit Award #1
Iain Stewart, To the Brooklyn Bridge 
WSA Merit Award #2
Bill Bailey, Waiting for Spring 
WSA Merit Award #3
William H. McKeown, Apalachicola Relics 
Art Society Awards
Tallahassee Watercolor Society
Patricia Eldridge, Apple Gathering 
Georgia Watercolor Society
Kay Stern, Lon Reflecting on a Long Day
Decatur Art Guild
Johanna Littleton, Creation Renewed 
Southern Watercolor Society
Susan Stuller, Lady in Pink 
Patron Fine Art Awards
Salis International, Winsor Newton, Jack Richeson & Co.
Z. L. Feng, Red Brush
Graham and Company
William C. Morris, Back Side of a Rough Ride
Salis International, Jack Richeson & Co., Creative Catalyst
Gwendolyn Bragg, The Old Cloister
Canson Excellence in Arts Award
Al Beyer, Untitled
Chroma, Inc.., Golden Artist Colors, Daler-Rowney
Lyn Gill, Glamour Girl
Dick Blick Materials, J. Michael Monroe
Judith Fields, Connections #3: Flying High

Regular museum hours are Tuesday - Friday, 10 AM - 5 PM and Saturday, 10 AM - 2 PM.
The Carnegie is located at 207 Church Street, NE, Decatur, Alabama.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guided Walking Tours of Albany Historic District Offered Each Saturday in April

The Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau announces the return of free, guided walking tours each Saturday in the month of April. Residents and visitors are invited to take part in a casual stroll through Albany Historic District and learn about the architecture and history of this charming neighborhood.

Scheduled for April 5, 12, 19, and 26, the one-hour walking tour begins at 10 a.m. at the Rose Garden in Delano Park. Knowledgeable guides will escort participants through the Albany Historic District where they will share the history of the neighborhood, architectural styles of the homes, some of which date back to the late 1880s, and entertaining accounts of Decatur’s storied past. The tour features a different route, theme, and tour guide each Saturday.

April 5 – New Decatur/Albany Historic Neighborhood tour led by Lindy Ashwander, Executive Director of the historic Princess Theatre and resident of Albany Neighborhood.

April 12 – Architecture of Albany tour led by local architect and Albany resident Scott Schoel of Schoel Architecture.

April 19 – Albany and the Victorian Era tour led by Albany resident Carol Puckett.

April 26 – Tour of the Rose Garden and Delano Park led by Barbara Kelly, Albany resident and supporter of the Friends of Delano. This tour will also offer a special tribute to celebrate 2014 as being the Year of Alabama Parks, a yearlong marketing campaign of the Alabama Tourism Department, and will serve as a kick-off for National Travel and Tourism Month, which gets underway May 1.

Reservations are not required and tours are held rain or shine.

Decatur’s guided walking tours are part of the April Walking Tours coordinated by the Alabama Tourism Department. Decatur is one of 33 towns across the state participating in the annual event. “Alabama is the only state in the nation to hold statewide, simultaneous walking tours. These walking tours are a great way to get out and enjoy the spring weather and find out about the history of our state. We have done more than 1,800 walking tours since the beginning of the program eleven years ago and they keep increasing in popularity every year,” said Brian Jones of the Alabama Tourism Department.

For more information, call the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 256.350.2028 or 800.524.6181.