Have you ever wondered what role the Tourism office and Visitor Center have in Limestone County? The primary purpose of the Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association is to invite people to Athens and Limestone County, so that they can become “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. In Limestone County’s five towns, the Tourism Industry brings historians, naturalists, hikers, bikers, equestrians, kayak enthusiasts, fishermen, Civil War historians, artisans, storytellers, artists, musicians, sporting events, horse shows, rodeos, seminars, meetings, conferences, class & family reunions and many, many jobs!
We also develop tourism through the promotion of permanent attractions such as the Alabama Veterans’ Museum and Belle Chevre Creamery tours. This year, we had outstanding attendance at our many tours of our Historic Districts, Cemeteries and Antebellum homes. Our largest tour was from Samford University, where they brought 50 guests from Birmingham to stay overnight to visit and learn about our antiques as well as the architecture of our historical homes and buildings.
The Limestone County Archives brings all generations to Athens as they are looking into their family genealogy. As our families spread across the United States, discovering and preserving those precious times of yesteryear can take several days and many make it their primary goal of their vacation time.
Athens also can boast about 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 still operating. Though many others have closed, we still enjoy reminiscing about our youth while attending our outdoor drive-in theater, which brings people to Limestone County for their opportunity to experience the family fun.
Athens State University is the site of Founders’ Hall, built in 1822. ASU is Alabama’s oldest institution of higher education. Their “Livingstone Series” offers an array of wonderful speakers, musicians, plays and other events for the public to attend. The Livingstone Series also brings in visitors from our neighboring communities.
Tourists come into Limestone County communities such as Elkmont for the Songwriters’ Night, and to hear the performers at the Red Caboose. The free concert series we know as ‘Singing on the Square’ from April-August, hosted by the Tourism Office, is always well attended. Entertainment facilities such as Yesterday’s feature nationally recognized singers and impressionists like Kevin Adams and the music group, The Flashbacks. You see, music is in the fabric of Limestone County.
The Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention, known across the country, will soon be enjoying their 50th Anniversary. The two-day event brings 15,000 people to Limestone County. They come by car, RV, bus, and some even fly to get here. Our Athens Storytelling Festival, a week-long celebration of our tales, liars and lives bring people from over 25 states to hear the best of tellers. We also have our namesake Festival, the Athens Grease Festival, where we celebrate “all things fried” while attempting the world record for the most toga wearing attendees.
We encourage educational historical activities such as our free guided historical walks held each Saturday in April, and programs like Earth Day, Spirit of Athens’ art camps, and strolls, as well as the Farmer’s Markets held throughout the summer. The Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association / Athens Visitors’ Center is located in the historic Athens Utilities Building, built in 1906. Big Spring Memorial Park sits just behind our location, with beautiful, relaxing fountains and various species of ducks. Athens-Limestone County is rich in history, culture and music, but our eye is very much fixed on the future and new growth opportunities for our town.
ALCTA is open Monday-Friday, 8:00AM – 4:30PM, and in the summer on Saturdays from 8:00AM – 12:00PM. Come by for a tour of our historic building. Look through the rack of brochures, information leaflets, and post cards. We will be pleased to tell you more about Limestone County. Remember, “We are what you love about the South!”
By: Teresa Todd Athens-Limestone County Tourism President