Area offers plenty of options for activities

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 17, 2005

It's summertime down south. Don't let the calendar fool you; summer may not officially arrive until June 21, but the steam coming off the pavement after a sudden shower says differently.

And summer means travel season – time to pack the bathing suits, gas up the family roadster and unfold those travel maps. Some of us will journey hundreds of miles while others will seek summertime pleasures closer to home.

Today we look at some of the seasonal delights to be enjoyed throughout in south Alabama (and parts a little further north). And don’t forget – there’s plenty to discover right here on our own doorstep. A happy, healthy and safe summer to all!

Fun at festivals

Americans generally love festivals, and here in &uot;L.A.&uot; it’s no different. This Saturday, June 18, the city of Brewton invites berry lovers to come and enjoy the Alabama Blueberry Festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Jefferson Davis Community College.

There will be original arts and crafts, live entertainment, games and pretty much everything blueberry to buy – blueberry bushes, baskets, cookbooks, T-shirts, and blueberry foods, including homemade cobbler and ice cream, galore. Admission is free; call 251-867-3224 for more information.

Prichard holds its annual &uot;Juneteenth Festival&uot; on June 18 offering live music, food and crafts from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 251-457-1650.

Discover the &uot;oldest Masonic celebration in America&uot; from June 18-25 in Florala. The free weeklong event features everything from a fishing tournament to a fire department water battle, along with a carnival, parade, arts and crafts exhibitions, a horseshoe tournament and an antique car show. Contact 334-858-6430 to learn more.

Want to go up, up and away? Visit the city of Foley this year July 15-17 and check out the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival on the Foley Soccer Fields. 30 hot air balloonists, balloon glows and races are all part of this sky-high celebration.

A children’s village, arts and crafts, seafood cook-off, musical entertainment and a motorcycle and hot road rally are all part of the weekend. For more information, call 251-943-3291.

Also, don’t forget Watermelon Jubilee returns to Watermelon Hill this August 13-14 with its new sponsor, the Greenville Area YMCA. Arts and crafts, seed-spitting contests, food and fun are all on tap for this homegrown event.

&uot;People have already been calling us about the upcoming festival. We want the Butler County Watermelon Jubilee to be bigger and better than ever, and if anyone is interested in renting booth space, they just need to contact us,&uot; says Amanda Phillips, Y director.

Contact the YMCA at 382-0550 for more information.

Homegrown good eats

This happens to officially be &uot;The Year of Alabama Food&uot; and the first-ever Alabama Food festival will make its debut July 16 at Pepper Place in Birmingham. Among the fun activities planned for the event are contests to find Alabama’s heaviest tomato and the best tasting tomato. Restaurants will vie for the honor of producing &uot;The Official Dish of Alabama&uot; during the state finals to be held during the festival. Admission is free. Learn more by going to

On July 9, travel to Montgomery to enjoy State Farmer’s Market Day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Corn shucking and watermelon eating contests, hot air balloons, pony rides – and, naturally, plenty of fresh Alabama produce – are all part of the day. Admission is free; call 334-242-5350 to learn more.

And while it won’t fall in the summer season, don’t forget Greenville’s own upcoming &uot;Sweet Gum Bottom Blues&uot; Music and Food Festival coming this October. Contact Nancy Idland at 382-3041 for more info on this event.

Reading is ‘fun-damental’

Books enrich the lives of young and old. Visit our local library to discover the latest in good reading for all ages this summer. And for youngsters from preschool age through 6th grade, there’s the always-exciting Summer Reading Program. The event kicks off today and runs for six weeks.

&uot;We offer lots of incentives to keep the kids reading through the summer,&uot; says Children’s Librarian Jean Bauer. With a lively circus theme this year, children will discover the world of clowns, acrobats, big cats, elephants and more through storytelling, arts and crafts, music and refreshments during each one-hour session. For more info, call the Greenville-Butler County Public Library at 382-3216.

A ‘rose-y’ outlook

Nature’s breathtaking beauty can certainly be enjoyed throughout the summer. At Bellingrath Gardens near Mobile, you can enjoy no less than 75 varieties of roses, many of them All-American Rose selections. And there’s the hibiscus, copper plants, begonias, bougainvillea, caladiums, vinca, marigolds, begonia…at treat for anyone with a green thumb or someone who simply admires beautiful flowers and more. The gardens are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and admission is charged. Call 1-800-247-8420.

Fishing, anyone?

While many folks can be sighted trying their angler’s luck roadside at the county’s creeks, those who want to venture into big-time fishing will want to check out the 74th Annual Dauphin Island Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo July 15 – 17.

It’s the largest and oldest event of its kind with over 3,000 participants, 30 categories and more than $400,000 in prize monies and packages. The event is sponsored by the Mobile Jaycees, who invite folks to come and participate or just have fun watching those big fish get weighed in. Admission charged; contact 251-366-5658 (Don’t forget about our local Jaycees Kids’ Fishing Day rescheduled for this Saturday June 18!).

Beach bums, have fun!

In spite of the ravages of Ivan last year, Alabama’s Gulf Coast has made a speedy comeback. 64 percent of the area’s condo and hotel units have reopened with almost 10,000 more hotel rooms and condo units being built. Many of the restaurants and amusement sites have also reopened – so there’s no reason not to enjoy places like Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Dauphin Island, where a new 850-foot fishing pier has been completed to the public beach. Go to for more info.

Glorious Fourth fun

There are scads of Independence Day celebrations throughout the state, but we do want to remind everyone about Greenville’s own Patriotic Celebration coming up on Saturday, July 2 at Tiger Stadium. Sponsored by the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce and local businesses and individuals, the event will offer food, games, fireworks and much more for those who attend. To learn more, contact the GACOC at 382-3251.

New and unique summer fun

If you’re looking for something different to enjoy this summer, check out Mobile’s new museum celebrating all things Mardi Gras. The Carnival Museum includes rare Mardi Gras memorabilia, gown, trains and crowns dating to 1921.

The museum, located in a historic Government Street mansion, is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more go to

The Children’s Museum of the Shoals in Florence has opened a new butterfly house. The Fuzzy Butterfly House is a converted greenhouse named after a much-loved master gardener volunteer, Leonard &uot;Fuzzy&uot; Perritt. Visit

Landmark Park in Dothan has added a new playground. As Alabama’s official museum of agriculture, the park is a living history 1890s farm. Visit To discover more events and attractions across the state this summer, call 1-800-ALABAMA or go to

And of course, here in Greenville, music lovers can continue to enjoy Thursday concerts in Confederate Park, golfers can practice their swings on our fabulous Robert Trent Jones course at Cambrian Ridge, shoppers can browse the wonderful specialty shops – and we can all scream for ice cream at Russell Stover's.