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Alabama’bbq chains on the list of America’s 10 best

Two of the 10 best barbecue chains in America are right here in Alabama, according to the food website The Daily Meal.

Birmingham-based Jim ‘N’ Nick’s Bar-B-Q, which was founded by father and son Jim and Nick Pihakis in 1985, is #1 on The Daily Meal’s 10 best list. Moe’s Original Bar B Que, whose founding partners Mike Fernandez, Jeff Kennedy and Ben Gilbert met as college students at the University of Alabama, is #9.

Jim ‘N Nick’s has 14 locations in Alabama, plus restaurants in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The first Moe’s Original Bar B Que opened in Colorado in 2001, but Moe’s now has 12 locations scattered throughout Alabama, plus restaurants in California, Florida, Georgia, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee — as well as seven more Colorado locations.

Here’s what The Daily Meal had to say about the Alabama chains:

Jim ‘?N Nick’s Bar-B-Q: “Perennial exhibitors at best-of-the-best showcases like New York’s Big Apple BBQ Block Party, they’re smoking their own pork (sold pulled or chopped with a vinegary Carolina-style sauce), spare and baby back ribs, house-cured bone-in ham, legendary house-made pork hot links, chicken, turkey breast, and beef brisket, and serving it with a big dose of Southern hospitality. They also offer a killer hickory-grilled burger and pimento cheese sandwich, but honestly, you’re going to want to reserve all the room in your stomach for this crazy-good barbecue.”

Moe’s Original Bar B Que: “With more than 30 locations centered in Alabama and Colorado, Moe’s is doing barbecue right. It was founded by three friends from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (who) . . . turned a small slopeside catering operation into a barbecue destination. They still offer catering, but a trip to any of their restaurants is sure to be a good time, and is also a great primer in Alabama-style barbecue. Pork and chicken are the showcased items, topped with the signature Alabama white barbecue sauce, but the Angus beef brisket, hot links, St. Louis spare ribs, and fried catfish are also worth saving room for.”

To find out the other eight top barbecue chains, and what The Daily Meal had to say about them, go to: http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2014/03/alabama_has_two_barbecue_chain.html

U.S. Space & Rocket Center is Alabama’s #1 tourism attraction

More than 580,000 people visited the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville last year, ranking it number one among state attractions that charge admission, followed by the Birmingham Zoo at second with 574,176 and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at third with 530,678, state tourism officials say.

Five of the state’s Top Ten attractions charging admission showed an increase in attendance over previous years, spokesman Brian Jones said. Attendance figures were collected by the Alabama Tourism Department from local tourism organizations.

The USS Alabama Battleship Park in Mobile placed fourth with 371,229 visitors and the McWane Science Center was fifth with 316,918.

Point Mallard Park was sixth with 246,093. The Montgomery Zoo ranked seventh with 244,178 and the Huntsville Botanical Garden was eighth with 225,000. EarlyWorks Museums in Huntsville was ninth with 189,500. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was tenth with 177,055.

The Alabama Tourism Department also released the Top Ten attendance figures for other categories. Beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast were the number one natural destination in the state, attracting 5.5 million visitors last year. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens attracted 350,000 visitors to make it the most attended free attraction. Almost 800,000 people celebrated Mobile’s Mardi Gras making it the most attended event. Bryant-Denny Stadium was the number one sports destination with 710,538 fans attending University of Alabama home football games.

For more information contact the Alabama Tourism Department or visit: www.tourism.alabama.gov.

Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries announces Facebook fishing photo contest

Fishing season is here and the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) invites anglers to share their fishing experience through a freshwater fishing photo contest on the WFF Facebook page. The contest has three categories: Youth, under age 16; Ladies, age 16 and up; and Big Fish, open to any age or gender and any species of freshwater fish found in the state. The winners with the most “likes” in each category will have their photos published in the 2014-15 Alabama Hunting and Fishing Digest. Photos must be received by May 14.

To enter, anglers must email their freshwater fishing photos to Traci Wood at Traci.Wood@dcnr.alabama.gov with the subject “Facebook Photo Contest.” Please include your name, address, phone number and where the photo was taken. If you have a story associated with the photo, please include it in the email — it may better your chances of getting more “likes.”

For more information about the WFF Facebook Freshwater Fishing Photo contest and to view other wildlife photos, visit the WFF Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/pages/Alabama-Wildlife-and-Freshwater-Fisheries-Division/242269819151597.

Red Mountain Park recognized as National City Park Leader

National organization picks Red Mountain Park for its innovative practices in partnerships and fundraising

In recognition of its unique approach to partnerships and fundraising, Red Mountain Park has been named one of 12 “Frontline Parks,” a nationwide contest sponsored each year by City Parks Alliance.

Red Mountain Park was selected through a peer review process from a field of more than 40 entries across the country.

Being named a Frontline Park is extremely exciting for us”, said the Park’s Executive Director, David Dionne. “Our goal here is to build the Park in the community while building the community into the Park. We have everything we need to succeed. We have an award-winning design, an incredible place that combines history, the environment and spiritual significance into one place, surrounded by a community that invests time, resources and talent with enthusiasm. I want people in Birmingham to weave this park right into the fabric of their lives. I want them to play, move, relax, visit and grow with one another here. I will know we will have been successful when one day in the near future people will wake up and truly wonder how they got along for all these years without Red Mountain Park.”

Red Mountain Park provides universally accessible recreational opportunities, and is a financially self-sustaining urban park that is not reliant on government funding.

“We selected Red Mountain Park as a Frontline Park because it exemplifies the power of urban parks to build community and make our cities sustainable and vibrant,” said Catherine Nagel, Executive Director, City Parks Alliance. “We hope that by shining the spotlight on Red Mountain Park, we can raise awareness about the ways investment in our nation’s urban parks pays off.”

The park is built on a mountain that was the main source of iron ore for Birmingham’s iron and steel industry. U.S. Steel ceased ore mining on the site in the 1960s, leaving the private land vacant for more than forty years. In 2005, the company sold 1,200 acres of land atop the mountain to the Freshwater Land Trust for less than half its value and contributed $1 million in seed money to develop a public park on the site, effectively doubling the amount of greenspace in the city of Birmingham.

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