Have you ever wondered what role the Tourism Office or Visitor Center has in the community of Limestone County? The primary purpose of the Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association is to solicit into Athens and Limestone County “temporary tax payers.” In other words, people who come to visit stay in our hotels, buy gas, enjoy their meals in our restaurants and attend our events and attractions. To our “Limestone County” Tourism Industry, we bring historians, naturalists, hikers, bikers, equestrians, kayak enthusiasts, fishermen, Civil War re-enactors, artisans, storytellers, artists, musicians, sporting events, horse shows, rodeos, seminars, meetings, conferences and class / family reunions (to name a few) from all across the country.
We also develop tourism through the promotion of permanent attractions such as the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives – be on the lookout for a major announcement from Museum Director Sandra Thompson and her team during the course of the New Year! Our Historic District and Antebellum Homes offer driving tours to our visitors, and the Limestone County Archives has generations looking into their family genealogy to discover and preserve those precious times of yesteryear. Athens also boasts its very own Drive-In Theater positioned alongside our Walk-In Theater. This Drive-In is one of only nine in the state of Alabama and though they are considered a dying breed, some things do get better with age. Athens State University Founders Hall (built in 1822) is Alabama’s oldest institution of higher education. ASU has seen exponential growth recently including a new partner initiative with the University of North Alabama. Tourists come into our Limestone County communities for songwriters night and entertainment facilities. Festivals known across the country such as the Old Time Fiddlers Convention (soon to embark on its 50th Anniversary) and new visions such as the Athens Grease Festival, where we celebrate all things fried, also bring new faces. Visitors also find themselves satiating at our unique and interesting restaurants that run the gamut from authentic Cajun cuisine to Award-Winning Goat Cheese.
We encourage historical activities such as our free guided historical walks held each Saturday in April and educational programs like ‘Earth Day’ celebration, art camps & strolls and the farmer’s markets held throughout the summers. The Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association / Athens Visitors Center is located in the historic Athens Utilities Building and was built in 1906. In later years it was often referred to as the “Domino Hall” where men played weekly dominos. Decades later, Athens City Council agreed to renovate the building and include a beautiful wood and glass community room that looks out on the Big Spring Memorial Park’s relaxing fountains and various species of ducks. Athens-Limestone County is rich in history, culture and music, but our eye is very much fixated on the future and new growth opportunities for “Our Town.”
On April 1, 2010, the Visitors Center / Tourism Office opened at 100 N. Beaty Street. The original brick walls with wood ceilings and floors are reminiscent of the building in its beginning. Currently the Visitor Center has a “Delmore Brothers” exhibit on display. Alton and Rabon Delmore were born in Elkmont, Limestone County, AL. In 1931, the Delmore Brothers joined WSM’s Grand Ole Opry. They later moved to Raleigh, North Carolina then to WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they formed the Browns Ferry Four Gospel Quartet. The original members of this famous quartet were Alton, Rabon, Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis.
ALCTA is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM, and in the summer on Saturdays from 8:00 AM – noon. Come by for a tour of our historic building. Look through the rack of brochures and post cards. We will be pleased to tell you more about Limestone County, “We have what you love about the South!”
By: Teresa Todd Athens-Limestone County Tourism President
100 Beaty Street, Athens, AL 35611