New Apiary Opening Highlights AWF Festival: April 2018 newsletter

Apiary Opening Is Highlight of Festival

About 300 guests visited the Alabama Nature Center on April 14 for the Plants and Pollinators Arts Festival in Millbrook. The highlight of the event was the grand opening of the Alan Johns & Anne Gunderson Apiary with live demonstrations and honey tasting and extraction from the beehives on site. The ANC beekeeper, Kristen Irions (at left), led several fascinating demonstrations throughout the day. Kristen also collects the “Lanark Honey” sold at the Center.

Festival Day also included plant and gardening demonstrations, specialty vendors and the annual Lanark Plant Sale. Fred Bassett shared a hummingbird demonstration, Donny Tomlin presented a Japanese maple grafting demo and Maria Pacheco-West taught visitors about composting. 

There were plant sales with quality plants from the Lanark grounds, plus featured artists Beverly Smith, Rosalee McKnight, Sue White, Teresa Wamble and Donna Pate. Vendors on hand included Eagle Roost Herb Farm; Donny Tomlin; Bottle Tree Bob; Heady – Lisa Wright’s essential oils; Henny Penny Pottery; Cedric Seaman’s Gelato; Tiggy Glass; Jellies, Jams, and Flowers; face painting by Alex Pacheco-West; and other activities from the Autauga County and Elmore County Master Gardeners.

Big Gobbler Contest Deadline Looming

The deadline for this year’s Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association Big Gobbler Contest is fast approaching. May 7, one week after the end of turkey season, marks the end of the contest for 2018. For this year’s contest, we searched for the best turkey-callers in the Black Belt and asked them to upload a video of their expertise for Facebook readers to see – and hear!

So, there’s still a little time to get your video in the hunt for the prizes. This year, there are also two categories for winners – the People’s Choice, determined by the video that gets the most “likes” and the Pro’s Pick, the video selected as the best by Eddie “Turkey Man” Salter as part of a media panel of judges. The People’s Choice winner gets a $200 cash prize donated by Southeastern Land Group while the Pro’s Pick earns two Salter turkey calls.

Upload your short video via Dropbox at

Make Reservations to Fish at Lawley

Mark your calendar to make a reservation for a spot to fish at the M. Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Field Trial Area in Hale County beginning May 15. Two catfish and three bass and bream ponds are located on the property and will be open to fishing to families and small groups on four Saturdays in June and July – but only via reservation by calling 334-624-9952. The last day to reserve a spot is June 8.

According to an Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources news release, once reservations are made “each group will be assigned a pond along with details such as creel limits and what kind of tackle to bring. Ponds will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no cost to anglers, but anyone between the ages of 16 and 64 is required to have a fishing license.”

“We feel like having a family or group of friends make reservations is a good way to ensure that everyone has a safe, fun outing,” said Bill Mason, property manager. “We would particularly like to see youth have the opportunity to fish in these ponds.”

Fishing will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 9, June 23, July 7 and July 21.

The M. Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Field Trail Area consists of 3,340 acres of pasture and a mixture of pine-hardwood forest. Historically, the property was a working cattle ranch and catfish farm. Today it is a nature preserve and recreation area with scheduled field trials and opportunities for hunting and fishing. For more information, visit

If Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations are needed, please contact Doug Deaton at 334-242-3484 or Requests should be made as soon as possible, but at least 72 hours prior to the scheduled event.

Be a ‘Social Butterfly’ in Demopolis

A new gathering place is open in Demopolis on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. offering a great Black Belt selection of antiques, “mantiques,” (a collection of antiques or collectibles that appeal mainly to men, such as tools, toy cars, etc.) art work and custom items. The Social Butterfly Marketplace is at 103 W. Washington Street and is a wonderful place for local artisans, craftspeople and other vendors to gather and sell their wares.

You can also inquire about vendor spaces in the historical building on the town square. Call 334-216-5649 or email for more information. Visit the website at

Take a Fun Trail Run at Blue Springs State Park

The Friends of Blue Springs State Park near Clio in Barbour County are playing host to the Blue Springs Boogie Backwoods Trail Run on the new public trail – the first in the park – on Saturday, April 28, from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. There’s also a 1-mile fun run this year along with the regular 5K race.

Participants can enter the park for free, but admission for spectators will be $4 for adults, $1 for senior citizens and children 6-11, and free for those 5 and younger.

The fun run will be on a paved section of the park and will begin after the trail run. Make the fun run lots of “fun” by running dressed as your favorite woodland animal! There are prizes for best costume in three categories: age 12 and Under, Teen and Adult. There will also be a t-shirt design contest for kids, fifth to eighth grade. Visit or call 334-367-8536 for more information.

The trail’s official opening will be Friday, April 27, with a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship will lead a guided hike on the trail following the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The 2.1-mile Magnolia Trail, along with two three-tenths of a mile connector trails, offer easy to slightly moderate walks through the southeast Alabama forest and features scenic views of the west fork of the Chocawhatchee River. The trailhead is located in the park with the bulk of the trail winding through adjacent Forever Wild Blue Springs State Park Addition.

The 100-acre Blue Springs addition was acquired by the Forever Wild Land Trust in 2014 to provide the state park with an opportunity to create a trail system. The tract features upland pine forest, wooded slopes and small stream floodplain.

“Trail use improves quality of life and serves as a gateway activity to the outdoors,” said Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks Director. “With the help of the Forever Wild Land Trust and our other partners, we are honored to offer this addition to our trail system.”

The Magnolia Trail was created through a partnership between the Forever Wild Land Trust, Alabama State Parks, and the Friends of Blue Springs State Park.

Blue Springs State Park is located at 2595 Alabama Highway 10, Clio, Ala. For more information about the park, visit

Paddlers, Have You Tried the Scenic Trail?

Alabamians are proud of the great river systems – with 14 watersheds – that crisscross our home state. If you enjoy canoe trips, or would like to try one, start your journey on the Alabama Scenic River Trail – the only blueway that has everything from mountain streams to river delta to salty waves of the Gulf of Mexico. Paddling and powerboat experiences and exploration abound along hundreds of miles of Black Belt waterways.

Visit to see all that the Scenic River Trail has to offer the experienced paddler to the newbie.

And while you’re on the water, don’t forget to bring your fishing gear. The Black Belt offers some of the best public fishing in the state! Visit our website and read all about it at Springtime is perfect for wetting a hook and hauling in everything from trophy bass to big catfish to a creel full of bream.

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<p>Counties included are Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox. Counties included are Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox.

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