Discovering winter fun in the south

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2005

While many in our nation spend a considerable amount of time each winter scraping icy windshields, shoveling snow from their driveways and bundling up like Nanook of the North before venturing outdoors, such is generally not the case here in LA (Lower Alabama, of course). After all, we draw plenty of &uot;snowbirds&uot; every year to our state.

Our mild climate gives us balmy days perfect for outdoor activities near home (consider a stroll along the shores of lovely Sherling Lake or a quick round of golf at Cambrian Ridge). It’s great for a drive to a neighboring county for a special event, or some quality time spent in our own gardens and yards, enjoying the beauty of the camellias that grace our winter landscape.

Once Christmas and New Year’s Day are past, some folks get the winter blues. But with our generally temperate weather, beautiful blooms, art exhibitions, crafts festivals, fabulous live theatre and the fun and frivolity of Mardi Gras – there’s no reason to feel glum.

Celebrate southern food

Did you know 2005 has been designated by the Alabama Department of Travel and Tourism as the Year of Alabama Food? Throughout the year, celebrations of the foods we know and love will be taking place across the state.

A yearlong celebration in Tuskegee –

&uot;Breaking Bread and Building Bridges&uot; – will be spotlighting homegrown food products and growers in various events, programs and activities designed to bring people of different cultures together for a greater understanding of civil rights history.

For more information, go to

Love good chicken and dumplings? Then you’ll want to visit the city of Douglas in Autauga County and travel to the Old Meeting House Restaurant where the specialty of the house is the included in &uot;100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.&uot;

To learn more about events celebrating Alabama food in 2005, contact Greenville native (and learned southern food historian) Annie Crenshaw at

The play’s the thing

A trip to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery Feb. 4-6 will let you enjoy good southern food along with new play readings and a fully produced world premiere.

It’s all part of the Southern Writers’ Project Festival of New Plays that promises to take you &uot;from the page to the stage&uot; as you celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the southern storyteller. Call 1-800-841-4ASF for more information.

And if you enjoyed the talented Bill Oberst, Jr. as Lewis Grizzard during a recent Greenville Arts Council production, you may want to drive down to Enterprise on Jan. 13 for &uot;The Return of Lewis Grizzard, A Salute to Mama&uot;. Based on all-new material, the show is a re-creation of one of the late, great Grizzard’s comedy concerts. Call (334) 406-1617.

One of England’s longest-running productions, penned by one of the world’s best-selling mystery authors, Dame Agatha Christie, takes the stage at Faulkner University when &uot;The Mousetrap&uot; is set to spring. The dinner theater production runs on selected dates Feb. 10-26. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; dinner is served until 7:45 p.m., with the show beginning at 8. For more information, call (334) 386-7190 or visit their Website at

And right here in Greenville, the fun-filled Broadway musical &uot;Seven Brides for Seven Brothers&uot; comes to the stage of the Ritz Theatre at 7 p.m. on Feb. 15, complete with a live orchestra. Contact Roberta Gamble of the Greenville Area Arts Council at 382-3414 for more information. &uot;This is being put on by the same company who brought us ‘Copacabana’ last season and we expect another wonderful show,&uot; says Gamble.

From toe shoes to Miller tunes

If you love dance and adore the music of the Roaring Twenties and the writings of &uot;jazz baby&uot; F. Scott Fitzgerald, you’ll want to see the Montgomery Ballet’s Repertoire Performance of &uot;Gatsby&uot; at the Davis Theater for the Performing Arts. Performances are slated for Feb. 11 – 13; for more information, call (334) 409-0522 or go to

If you prefer the tunes of the fabulous 40s, don’t miss the world famous Glenn Miller Orchestra’s performance in Enterprise at the Enterprise High School Auditorium on Feb. 17. You can hum along to &uot;Chattanooga Choo-Choo&uot;, &uot;String of Pearls&uot;, &uot;In the Mood&uot; and other Miller standards. Call (334) 406-1617 for more information.

If you love the old spirituals of the South, visit Montgomery’s Old Alabama Town during the month of February to enjoy &uot;Plantation Heirs in Concert.&uot; Contact (334) 240-4617 to learn more.

Gorgeous ‘Bama blooms

&uot;Winter Wonderland&uot; continues through Feb. 28 at the world-famous Bellingrath Gardens in Theodore (near Mobile). Tulips, pansies, snapdragons, daffodils, camellias, violas and more will charm visitors to the gardens. Call 1-800-247-8420.

If you’d like to learn more about caring for your rose garden, check out the Annual Rose Pruning on Feb. 12. at Bellingrath Gardens. Mobile Rose Society members will be on hand that day to prune more than 2,000 lovely roses at the award-winning gardens. Volunteers will also share tips on pruning and caring for your own American Beauties. Visit

Mobile is also the site of the 65th Annual Camellia Show of Mobile on Jan. 15-16. Pay a visit the Colonial Bel Air Mall and discover why the lovely camellia is Alabama’s state flower.

Thousands of spectacular blooms from across Alabama and five other states will be on display at the show providing a &uot;dramatic ocean of color.&uot; Call (251) 345-8212 or visit

And please, folks, be sure to take a look 0at the beautiful camellias seen right here in Butler County this winter. Barbara Middleton, president of the Butler County Historical Society and a dedicated camellia enthusiast, has created an updated version of her Camellia Driving Tour. Give her a call at Greenville Cash and Carry (382-2639) to find out more about our local camellias.

&uot;We do have many lovely camellias here, both the old heirloom varieties and newer ones, and this is a prime time of year to see their beauty,&uot; says Middleton.

A quiltin’ we will go

Some of the most famous quilters in the U.S. are located right here in Alabama, in Gee’s Bend. Many local ladies are part of community and senior center quilting groups who come together to stitch beautiful creations, hand-stitched quilts enjoyed by friends and family, with some sold to people from across the nation.

South Alabama celebrates the art and craft of quilting this winter with several events.

From Feb. 13 through Mar. 31, Troy offers &uot;Pieces of History&uot; at its third annual quilt exhibit at the Pike Pioneer Museum.

The event showcases over 350 quilts, all handmade in Alabama, with more than 150 pre-1920 quilts on display. Group rates are available with reservations. Call (334) 566-3597 or visit

Prattville calls all quilt lovers to the city on Feb. 26-27 for its quilt show at the Doster Community Center. More than 100 cherished antique and newly created quilts will be on display at the show, sponsored by the Prattville Fountain City Quilters and the Department of Leisure Services. Call (334) 361-3697 for more information.

Quilts will also be a part of the Monroeville Heritage Arts Festival on February 26, along with crafts, art, woodworking and soul food, all found at the Old Courthouse and downtown square.

Let the good times roll

The argument continues over who first celebrated Mardi Gras in America, but our own port city of Mobile still claims to be the birthplace of the festival on these shores.

Mobile and New Orleans are far from the only cities celebrating in their purple, green and gold, however. Smaller Alabama towns such as Fairhope, Daphne, Prichard, Point Clear, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores all hold Mardi Gras festivities, too.

Whether it’s the Order of Mystic Magnolias (Fairhope), the Krewe of Mullet Mates (Point Clear), the Loyal Order of the Firetruck (Daphne) or the Krewe of Goats (Prichard), come the end of January through early February 2005, you can discover a number of family-friendly Mardi Gras parades in L. A.

Contact the Alabama Department of Tourism and Travel at 1-800-ALABAMA for more information.

Happy a happy winter, Lower Alabama style!