The Alabama Tourism Department has named OWA its Attraction of the Year in the 2018 Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar of Events.
OWA is a $500 million-plus complex that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians built in Foley within 10 miles of Alabama’s pristine white-sand beaches. It includes the 14-acre “Park at OWA,” which houses more than 20 rides and four roller coasters, including Rollin’ Thunder, one of the longest in the country. If stretched out, Rollin’ Thunder’s track of would be 2,234.3 feet, longer than seven football fields put together.
Visitors can also find bargains at new, upscale shops. Stay in luxurious accommodations, and eat at top-notch restaurants. Among the dining options is Wahlburgers, an upscale burger restaurant that chef Paul Wahlberg founded in 2011 with his famous brothers, Donnie and Mark Wahlberg. It is part of the shopping and dining area, which includes other eateries and numerous stores. The 150- room Marriott TownePlace Suites hotel is the first of several lodging options to open.
Future plans include a waterpark, a condominium complex and a resort-level RV park. OWA is adjacent to the city of Foley’s $40 million sports-tourism complex, which features 16 state-of-the-art outdoor fields and a 90,000- square-foot indoor events center.
The state tourism department also released its list of top 10 events for 2018. The 10 events in chronological order are the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee, performances of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the 50th annual 911 Festival, Birmingham’s Sloss Fest, the Jubilee Festival of Arts, the Alabama Coastal Birdfest, the National Shrimp Festival, the Kentuck Festival of the Arts, the GATALOP 35 Renaissance Festival and the 75th anniversary of Dothan’s Annual National Peanut Festival.
The state tourism department selects the top 10 events based upon significant anniversaries and the uniqueness of the event. The events listing is featured in the 2018 Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar of Events that is available at the eight state welcome centers, local tourism bureaus and online. The 204-page magazine-size publication contains colorful photos and covers the state by geographic regions with an introduction section, a city-by-city listing of attractions and accommodations and profiles of the state’s major cities. The calendar section lists more than 700 annual and special events from across the state.
There are also features on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, the best places to eat, drink or watch the sunset, unique must-visit sites, outdoor adventures and a listing of free smart phone apps from different tourism organizations across the state.
Below are more details about the top 10 events for 2018:
The Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee
From March 1-5, this annual event celebrates one of the most important events in American’s Civil Rights Movement – the Selma to Montgomery march.
Play productions of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”
From April 13-May 19 actors from the author’s hometown of Monroeville perform her classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” in the town that helped inspire it.
The 911 Festival
On June 1 and 2 Haleyville celebrates its 50th annual 911 Festival, memorializing the first 911 call ever made.
This Birmingham music festival, scheduled for July 14-15, was named by Southern Living as one of the best music festivals in the South.
The 30th annual Jubilee Festival of Arts
The festival, equal parts arts, crafts, food and put Southern charm, is on Sept. 29 and 30 in Daphne.
The Alabama Coastal Birdfest
From Oct. 3-6 in Spanish Fort, bird watchers fly in from all over the country to view more than 100 species of migrating birds that are doing the same.
The Annual National Shrimp Festival
This four-day food and music festival that takes place in Gulf Shores from Oct 11-14 attracts more than 250,000 visitors.
The Kentuck Festival of the Arts
Crowds flow into Northport on Oct. 20 and 21 for some of the best folk art in the country, along with some of the South’s best storytellers and live music.
The 35th Annual Renaissance Festival, GATALOP 35
The Oct. 26, 27 festival in Dauphin Island is one of the state’s biggest and best Renaissance fairs.
Dothan’s 75th Annual National Peanut Festival
The festival, whose first speaker was George Washington Carver, celebrates its 75th anniversary from Nov 2-11. It attracts about 200,000 visitors with its amusement park rides, animal attractions and concerts.
The 2018 Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar of Events is available at the eight state welcome centers, local tourism bureaus and online.
(News Release/Alabama Tourism Department)