Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Decatur’s Free Summer Concerts Kick Off June 1 at Rhodes Ferry Park

Decatur, Ala. (May 5, 2015) – Decatur’s popular summer concert series is set to return in 2015, bringing friends and families together for an evening of great music on the banks of the Tennessee River. Sponsored by the Decatur Parks and Recreation Department, Paul Stroud Concerts by the River offers a wide variety of musical entertainment as beautiful Rhodes Ferry Park provides a stunning setting for this free, weekly concert series. The concert series gets underway Monday, June 1 with concerts held each Monday through July 27.

The concert series features a broad range of musical styles including country, oldies, bluegrass, southern rock, jazz, Big Band, and more in the 2015 season. The opening concert on Monday, June 1 will feature crowd favorites Taylor McLain and the Sophisticated Swingers in a performance of classic Big Band melodies and soaring vocals.

Performances begin at 6 p.m. and usually conclude by 8 p.m. All concerts are free and guests are welcome to bring picnic baskets, lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy the abundance of musical talent found in the Tennessee Valley.
The 2015 series features the following performers:

June 1              Taylor McLain/Sophisticated Swingers          Crooner/Big Band

June 8              Papa Rox                                                         Oldies, Soft Rock

June 15            Bimini Road                                                    Southern Rock, Blues

June 22            Jeff Whitlow                                                   Country

June 29            Dorothy Cole and Friends                              Tribute

July 6               Dixie Bluegrass/Robert Montgomery             Bluegrass 

July 13             Decatur Youth Symphony/Replay                  Classical/Oldies and
                                                                                                Southern Country Harmony

July 20             Reginald Jackson and Friends                                    Smooth Jazz

July 27             Ben Parker Project                                          Southern Rock

Complete schedule information can be found at or can be obtained by contacting 256-341-4818 or Information on concerts will also be posted on the Facebook pages of the Decatur Parks and Recreation Department and the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Funding for the 2015 concert series is provided in part by a donation from Ms. Edna Smith in memory of her daughter, Frances Smith.

The concert series originated in 1991 and now bears the name of the late Paul Stroud, a founding member of the Sophisticated Swingers who encouraged local musical talent and served as the series Coordinator for many years. His legacy lives on through this cherished summer tradition. Special thanks to the many wonderful musical artists who make this evening of family-friendly fun possible.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Friday Fun in Downtown Decatur

Decatur, Ala. (May 12, 2015) – The merchants of downtown Decatur will host its 3rd Friday this week, May 15th, filling the historic downtown area with music, food, art, and more. As attendees enjoy the downtown ambiance, a variety of special activities are planned offering everything from fun and fashion to music and motorcycles.

Downtown Decatur 3rd Friday gets underway at 5 p.m. and festivalgoers are invited to spend the evening looking at a wide variety of antique cars along 2nd Avenue while enjoying some of the area’s best musicians throughout the downtown area and inside many restaurants. Performers include Chris Simmons at Simp McGhee’s, Derek Blagburn on the patio at The Brick, Chandler Brown and The Liberty Boys on Moulton Street by Downtown Dawgs, Of Kith and Kin on Second Avenue by the Princess Theatre, Christian Herring Band on Second Avenue by The Antique Basket, The Chordsman in the 800 block of Bank Street, Ally Burgess in the 700 block of Bank Street, Decatur Youth Symphony Small Ensemble in the 600 block of Band Street, and the Morgan County Dulcimer Association by the Old State Bank.

For children, the Carnegie Visual Arts Center will have activities and art on Bank Street, along with a demonstration by Webster’s Karate Studio, and in the 500 block, CASA on the Green will host children’s local favorite band, Tangerine Tambourine. A caricature artist and face painting will also provide entertainment during the evening.

For the fashionistas, there will be a fashion show at 7 p.m. in front of Casa Grande Park on Second Avenue. Presented by Beautiful Edge, transformations by Erin, and the Alabama Fashion Alliance, the runway-style show will feature selections from Indigo’s, Jar & Co., Jewelry by Lorelai Kolarik, and special guest designer and founder of AFA, LeJune.

Shopping in downtown Decatur is plentiful and many of the merchants will remain open late during the 3rd Friday celebration. Craft vendors selling handmade items will fill Casa Grande Park and Jones Park on 2nd Avenue. The Cupboard, located on Bank Street, will host Fox Point Farms who will be offering free samples of their amazing goat milk caramels and caramel sauce and there will be baby goats on hand to add to the fun. The Paper Chase will give a gift with any Vera Bradley purchase and Glee Interiors will have a sidewalk sale with 75% off discounts. Downtown Dawgs will have free kids nachos with the purchase of a combo meal.

Throughout the evening, the 700 block of Bank Street will be filled with a variety of motorcycles provided by the North Alabama Vintage Motorcycle Club and festivalgoers can shop among the many antique vendors set up in the 800 block. Non-profit organizations will be featured in the 500 block where festivalgoers can drop by and learn more about what is offered in Decatur and Morgan County.

Participating streets in 3rd Fridays include 2nd Avenue, Bank, Market, Moulton, Grant, and Johnston streets. MCATS will provide transportation between Bank Street and Second Avenue for $1 per person, per ride. Pickup locations are at the Alabama Center for the Arts parking lot on Second Avenue and beside Tammy Eddy Antiques and Interiors on Bank Street.

Third Friday’s was first organized in 2009 by merchants as a way to attract locals and visitors to the downtown area. The Downtown Merchants 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. Presenting sponsor is Budweiser. Additional sponsors include Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority, Bank Independent, Decatur/Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, Morgan County Commission, Nucor Steel, 3M, Renasant Bank, Stovall-Marks Insurance, Beautiful Edge-A Paul Mitchell Focus Salon, and King Insurance Agency.

For more information, call Ashley Ashwander at 256.355.8993 or visit 3rd Friday’s Facebook page for the latest information.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Celebrate Memorial Day with Balloons, Water, Music, and More

Decatur, Ala. – The Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic has been flying for 37 years in Decatur, Ala. offering plenty of free family fun during Memorial Day weekend. A two-day celebration filled with hot air balloons, live music, tractors, a military tribute, arts and crafts and other activities, this year’s Alabama Jubilee is set for May 23-24, 2015, and in between Jubilee activities, festivalgoers are encouraged to take a dip and cool off at the Point Mallard Waterpark.

The Memorial Day celebration begins bright and early on Saturday, May 23 at 6:30 a.m. with the Hare and Hound Balloon Race. Saturday’s activities include an antique car show, arts and crafts show, and the Southland Flywheelers will host a tractor show featuring some of the best restored and maintained tractors in the Southeast, engine demonstrations, a tractor parade, pedal tractor pull, and tractor games. At dusk, the Balloon Glow is a must see as towering balloons of all colors light up Point Mallard Park.

Another round of friendly competition between the hot air balloon pilots is scheduled for Sunday, May 24 beginning at 6:30 a.m. with the Lynn Layton Chevrolet Hot-Air Balloon Key Grab Race. Sunday’s activities include an arts and crafts show and a military tribute for fallen soldiers. For those who want to experience the magic of a balloon ride, free tethered rides are offered from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and a spectacular fireworks show is set to launch at 9:30 p.m.

Live music fills the air during the two-day event featuring JED Eye ( and Four on the Floor ( on Saturday and the Ben Parker Project ( and Natchez Trace ( on Sunday. There will be a military tribute featuring a presentation by the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and a ceremony for Wounded Warriors in honor of Memorial Day. The Decatur Art Guild arts and crafts show offering only original works will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday in the Pavilion.

Free parking will be available at GE with shuttle service to Point Mallard Park from 4 to 10 p.m. for a nominal fee each way. Admission to the Alabama Jubilee is free. Please note all balloon activities are weather permitting.

Picnic blankets and lawn chairs are encouraged. All activities take place in Point Mallard Park, a 750-acre municipal park providing year round recreation facilities in Decatur, Ala. For more information and a schedule of events, visit

Opening day for the Point Mallard Waterpark is Saturday, May 23. With plenty of water action, the waterpark offers a welcoming reprieve from the warm temperatures summer brings. The Waterpark is open daily beginning May 23 to August 10 with hours 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. all other days. General admission is $20 for adults (ages 12-61 years old), $15 for youth (ages 5 to 11 years old), $15 for seniors (62+) and military, with half price days offered Monday through Thursday (excluding holidays). For more information, visit or call 256.341.4900.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Daikin Celebrates Japanese Heritage with a Free Festival for the Public

Decatur, Ala. (May 7, 2015) – For the past 20 years, Daikin America has entertained families with a free event in celebration of its Japanese heritage. Set for Friday, May 22, 2015, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Morgan County Fairgrounds in Decatur, the Daikin Festival offers festivalgoers of all ages an opportunity to experience Japanese culture through festive music, exhibits, and food.

Throughout the evening, festivalgoers can participate in Japanese folk dances and enjoy live traditional Japanese music as well as dance away to country, Cajun, rock & roll, and big band. For those who really want to get in the festive spirit, wear a happi coat – a cloth jacket, usually containing an emblem, family crest, or logo on the back. The highlight of the festival each year is when Daikin employees take the stage with their amazing Japanese Taiko Drums performance.   

Along with traditional festival food such as hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft drinks, festivalgoers are treated to Cajun jambalaya, barbeque sandwiches, and Japanese Yakisoba, a stir-fried mix of noodles, cabbage, carrots, and beef. All food and drinks are free of charge.

During the festival, festivalgoers can learn more about Daikin America from various displays of product exhibits. Other displays include the Daikin Homestay Program, a program where area students and teachers travel to Japan for a two-week stay. Free tethered hot-air balloon rides are also available, weather permitting. The festivities conclude with a grand prize drawing for a free vacation at 8:45 p.m.

In addition to free parking around the fairgrounds, free round-trip shuttle service will be provided to the fairgrounds from Decatur Mall and Austin High School. 

For more information on the Daikin Festival, contact Daikin America Community Relations Manager Forrest Keith at 256.306.5000.

About Daikin America, Inc.
Daikin America is a leading global supplier of PTFE Molding and Fine Powders and Dispersions. Daikin also specializes in FEP, PFA, ETFE, PCTFE, EFEP, Fluoroelastomers and Unidyne oil and water repellents. Daikin also is home of the largest solar power installation in Alabama. Daikin is committed to good corporate citizenship, providing new employment opportunities at its various sites. For more information, visit   

Friday, May 1, 2015

Austin High Graduate to Help Coach Team to a SWAC Championship Wilson Morgan Softball Complex will host 2015 SWAC Softball Tournament May 6-9.

Decatur, Ala. – As part of a three-year commitment, Wilson Morgan Softball Complex will be the sight for the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) softball tournament championship May 6-9, 2015. The Decatur/Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the City of Decatur’s Parks and Recreation Department will host the event for more than 200 student-athletes and coaches, along with their families, traveling from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama.

The top eight teams in the SWAC East and West divisions qualify for the 13-game double-elimination tournament and teams are seeded based on regular season results among the conference play. Vying for the title from the East Division is Jackson State, Alabama State, Mississippi Valley State and Alabama A&M University who is coached by two individuals with north Alabama connections, Austin High School graduate Sara Winton-Denard and Madison native Roy Foreman. The West Division is still in regular season play and the tournament bracket has not been determined.

Winton-Denard is in her sixth season as an assistant coach, and her second season as part of the Alabama A&M University’s program. Specializing in pitching and catching, She graduated from Austin High School in 2001 when she signed to become a Lady Buc. She was a lead pitcher for Shelton State with an ERA averaging 1.045. When not in the circle, she was a consistent hitter for her team with a batting average over .300. Before coming to the university, she coached many high school students that are now college athletes and made a Regional appearance. She is a graduate of the NCAA Women’s Coaching Academy and has completed her Associates of Science, as well as her bachelors in Secondary Education Social Sciences. She is currently furthering her education with a graduate degree in Athletic Administration.

Foreman is in his first year as a volunteer assistant coach for the Lady Bulldogs Softball Program. He comes to Alabama A&M University after spending one year as the hitting coach for Pope John Paul II High School, where he helped lead them to their first 5A regional softball appearance in school history. Foreman works as a systems engineer for NASA at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. and also operates Madison Softball Academy where he specializes in softball hitting for college, high school and middle school players. Foreman earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from Alabama A&M University and he is also the recipient of several distinguished engineering awards from BEYA, NSBE and IEEE for his contributions to the engineering society.

Championship game time is 2 p.m. CST on May 9th. The championship game will receive live coverage on ESPN3 and tape delay on ESPNU at 9 p.m. CST. ESPN3 is available to 83 million households via the multi-screen network platform, which is available online at the, on smartphones and tablets with the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox Live. ESPN3 broadcasts are carried by Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Verizon.

Last year, Texas Southern University claimed the championship title, knocking off defending champion Mississippi Valley State University whose roster contains two north Alabama natives: Tenna Patterson of Lexington and Brianna Johnson of Guin. For more information, including a tournament schedule and live stats, visit 

Daily admission is $10/adult and $3/child and weekend passes are $25/adult and $10/child. Parking is free. Spectators should park and enter through the main gate off of Sandlin Road. Wilson Morgan Softball Complex features six lighted fields, centrally located concessions, quad, press box and batting cages. Each field has a clay infield and beautiful grass, maintained by electronically controlled underground irrigation systems. Located at 300 Beltline Road, the facility can seat over 2,000 spectators with additional seating available. For more information on Wilson Morgan Softball Complex, visit or

This will be the third appearance of the tournament in Decatur. Wilson Morgan Softball Complex served as host venue in 2013 and 2014, generating over $200,000 in revenue each year for Decatur and Morgan County.

For more information, contact Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau President/CEO Melinda Dunn at 256.350.2028 or 800.524.6181. 

About SWAC
Founded in 1920, the Southwestern Athletic Conference, made up of 10 historically black colleges and universities, consist of (East Division) Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Alcorn State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University, and (West Division) University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Grambling State University, Prairie View A&M University, Southern University and A&M College, and Texas Southern University. For more information about SWAC, visit