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Experience the Great Outdoors with a Family Day at Bucks Pocket State Park

June is National Great Outdoors Month and what better way to kick off summer than a free day of outdoor fun at Buck's Pocket State Park.

One of three state parks located in Marshall County, Bucks Pocket has wooded hiking trails, a campground and picnic area, one the most beautiful lookout points around and some of the nation's best white water. And, on Saturday, May 30th, the park will be alive with activities of all sorts to encourage families to spend a little time together in the outdoors.

The events are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will center in the campground area. There is no fee to attend and no gate fees. Donations however are much appreciated.

For those families who have spent the winter lounging on the couch, take one of the guided nature hikes which will highlight the wildflowers in bloom and are designed to get the heart pumping. For those of you up to the challenge and looking for a "learn and burn" experience, try the power hike to the overlook which will be offered.

Buck's Pocket is shaded and offers the perfect location for a picnic, so pack one and enjoy. Or, bring a fishing pole and fish from the banks. If you are feeling brave, grab your kayak and try out the rapids running along the base of the mountains.

Other activities offered throughout the day include fly fishing demos, a Dutch oven Cooking Demonstration, a snake program offered by Pet Depot, a Bird of Prey program by Rise Raptor Project, a blacksmith demonstration and much more!

The Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau will offer outdoor activities for kids at our booth as well as a scavenger hunt. Participants who complete the scavenger hunt will have the opportunity to register to win a Majestic 3 weekend stay at the Lake Guntersville State Park which includes lodging, meals, and a trip to Cathedral Caverns.

Join us for a rock painting activity and create your very own bug or fish rock.

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Tis the Season for Christmas Trees

One of my favorite holiday traditions is the Christmas tree. My tree at home is a 12-footer and I can’t even put the top on the tree without scraping the ceiling. It was one of those “spur of the moment” purchases that caused my husband to roll his eyes and sigh.

Even though I have to create a topper out of artificial berries, branches and one very large bow, I love my tree. And, I love pulling out the ornaments each year, unwrapping them and remembering where and when we purchased them or who gave them to us or which kid made them. Boxes and boxes of ornaments. (Here is where my husband sighs again).

We decorate our tree the weekend of Thanksgiving every year so that we can enjoy it through the Advent season, but we don’t take it down until after Twelfth Night or January 5th. According to my husband, it is bad luck to do so. Although I secretly think he uses this superstition as an excuse to leave our tree up longer because he loves it as much as I do.

I remember my first Christmas tree as an adult. I had taken a job at a newspaper in Hutchinson, Kansas. I went to the local store and purchased a live tree, which a nice man was kind enough to tie to the top of my Subaru. I drove back to my small apartment, drug the tree upstairs and placed it in front of my window.

It stood a little crooked. Of course, that was probably because it was so big. I seem to have a problem picking trees that fit my space. Anyway, I tied the tree to the wall, don’t ask me how….it was complicated and probably against my renter’s agreement.

But, when it was decorated with my small box of ornaments, given to me from my grandmother, it was fabulous, if a little crooked.

This year I had the opportunity to decorate my own tree, and to help the staff at the convention and visitor’s bureau decorate a tree in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the eagle awareness program at the Lake Guntersville State Park.

The tree is part of many that line the rooms of Guntersville Museum as part of their annual Festival of Trees. I encourage you to take an hour and wander through the many trees that have been decorated this year. The museum is open daily and admission is free.

The tree it seems is an important part of the holiday tradition, for me and for many others. Trees have been part of Christmas since the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther added candles to an evergreen in 16th Century Germany. The first trees were often decorated with edible items such as apples, berries and nuts. Children would then eat the items on Christmas Day.

With the development of electricity, strings of lights replaced candles and figurines and symbols of Christmas such as angels and stars replaced the edible decorations. The United States has had an official Christmas tree lighting every year since 1923. And, most of our local cities light their own tree each year to kick off the holiday season.

Why, even Charlie Brown recognized that with a little love and a few colorful lights, the smallest evergreen, no matter how thin its branches, could shine. Maybe I should take a few pointers from one of my favorite cartoon characters and downsize next year…..nah!

I am all about the ode to the evergreen. I am humming even as I type the words “Oh Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree.”

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What Do You Think Belongs on Marshall County's Bucket List

In the tourism business, we know that the best tour guide is a local. Someone who loves their hometown and all the unique aspects that make it special. So we are challenging all of you to help us develop our Marshall County Alabama “bucket list.”

We want to create a short list of “must see” places and “must do” activities for the people who visit with us. When my husband and I lived first in Florida and later in New Jersey, we visited our families in Alabama usually during the holiday season or in the summer. And, when we came home, there were certain places we had to eat and activities that we had to do.

I am sure it is the same with you and your families. These are the activities, places and restaurants that tourists are looking to find. When vacationing, tourists are no longer looking for a canned vacation. They want adventure. They want educational. They want one-of-a kind experiences that fit within their budget.

And, they are willing to leave the traditional hotspots behind to find this memorable vacation or experience.

We know that our “wow factors” like the 69,000 acre Lake Guntersville and the largest natural cave opening in the world at Cathedral Caverns will be on the list. But, we want you to show us the Marshall County that you love.

Once we hear back from you, the bucket list will be featured on our website, and be used to promote our county as a destination.

Think outside the box. Think about how you describe your hometown to friends who don’t live here. Think about not just places to visit, but annual activities or events that only happen in Marshall County.

More and more often, we rely on our peers to tell us thumbs up or thumbs down on a place to visit or a restaurant to try. The power of advertising has been overshadowed by the power of peer reviews and online message boards.

No negative comments please. Simply email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. a sentence statement describing a place, activity, event or adventure that you believe is unique to Marshall County. Share your ideas on our Facebook page, MarshallCo Al, or tweet us at marshallcoal. And, thanks for playing tour guide.

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Shrimp: My Favorite Summertime Food

peel and eat shrimp

Shrimp are best served the good ole’ fashioned way. Just peel’em and eat’em. At least that is what I thought initially and then I began to think of all my favorite shrimp dishes. Well, I am not so sure anymore.

I mean, I love to eat them battered and deep fried, maybe with a little coconut thrown in, which reminds me of breezy carefree nights at the beach.

coconut shrimp

Or I could sauté them in a little butter and a few spices, toss into a white sauce with my pasta of choice, and a good glass of wine. Suddenly I am thinking date night and cuddling with my hubby.

shrimp and pasta

Or, I could boil them, along with some corn and potatoes, a little sausage and it is amazing how the sounds of New Orleans fill my brain.

shrimp boil

I could crank up the grill and skewer a few with some veggies and have a healthy snack that reminds me of nothing in particular, but makes me feel good that I am eating healthy.

So, I guess I could call myself a shrimp lover. Those little sea creatures just do it for me. They are part of my summer menu at least once a week. Hoping some of you will comment and share your favorite shrimp dishes.

If you are looking to eat them the New Orleans way, join us for Shrimpfest this Saturday at Lake Guntersville State Park #ShrimpfestLakeG. Tickets are only $3 per person. For more info visit http://www.marshallcountycvb.com/what-to-do/upcoming-events#year=2014&month=7&day=24&view=month

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Santa & Saban

For those of you who haven’t heard, Nick Saban is coming to town. There is another guy with the same name coming soon as well - Ole Saint Nick. The two don’t look anything alike. One is famous for bringing toys. The other is famous for bringing national championships.

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100 Days Until Bassmasters Arrive

November 12 is 100 days prior to the biggest event Marshall County has ever hosted. Yes it is a fishing event, not that anyone should be surprised by that. After all, Lake Guntersville ranks number 4 in Bassmaster Magazine's 100 Best Bass Lakes for 2013.

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Contact   200 Gunter Avenue | P.O. Box 711 | Guntersville, AL 35976 | (256) 582-7015 | Toll Free: (800) 582-6282