From the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddler’s Convention, Art on the Square, Athens Storytelling Festival and Cars on the Square to Delmore Days, Ardmore’s Crape Myrtle Festival, Haunts Walks, the Grease Festival, rodeos, tractor pulls and more, Athens and Limestone County have a thriving tourism industry.
In 2011, Limestone County saw a 12.5-percent increase in state lodging tax from 2010, according to Athens-Limestone Tourism Association director Jeannette Dunnavant. In the same year, Athens saw a 27-percent local lodging tax increase, which is often unheard of in the current economy, she said.
It’s an industry that counts on leadership, strategic planning, support of local and state governments and coordination and cooperation between a number of businesses, community members and volunteers.
The Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association, Inc. held its first Tourism Appreciation Breakfast Thursday at the Event Center to honor those who help make events in the area possible and successful. Bob McAbee and the breakfast committee prepared the meal.
“It takes all of us to keep tourism flourishing,” Dunnavant said.
Dunnavant and Tourism Board Chairman Sandy Thompson presented four tourism awards Thursday.
The Volunteer of the Year award was given to Doris Black, the Athens-Limestone Visitor’s Center’s administrative assistant. Dunnavant said the award is given to a person that has a spirit of service, creativity, sensitivity for human pain, strong moral values, the ability to work in a team and a social conscience. The award is based on Black’s personal accomplishments, achievements and her dedication to the tourism industry.
The Tourism Helping Hands Award was given to Tim Jones. According to Dunnavant, the award recognizes an individual, family, organization or corporation who exhibits exceptional generosity of their time, monetary support or outstanding involvement in the Athens-Limestone County tourism industry. Although he was unable to attend the banquet, Dunnavant said Jones is always willing to lend a helping hand and goes above and beyond his call to duty.
The Good Neighbor “Friend of Tourism” is an award presented to the person, organization or corporation that has made a significant impact on tourism during the past year. The Good Neighbor “Friend of Tourism” award was accepted by Guy McClure on behalf of Athens State University and President Robert Glenn.
The Jerry Davis Tourism Award is given to persons who have demonstrated a desire to promote tourism by serving on tourism committees or working on projects that make an impact and contributes directly to tourism. Nominees also support new and existing projects that benefit tourism and recommend and implement new projects that increase the appeal to tourists in Athens-Limestone County. Previous Jerry Davis Tourism Award winners are Jerry Evans, Jerry Davis, Richard Martin, Pat Lewis, Jim Patteson, Price Boyd, Wayne Kuykendall and Buzz Estes.
This year, the award was given to Shane Black for the hard work and time he offers at various events such as the Haunts Walk.