Express Yourself

By Kerry Scott

Personal style blogger Hannah Henderson shares her take on fashion, something she considers a walking art form.

Personal style blogger Hannah Henderson shares her take on fashion, something she considers a walking art form.

Hannah Henderson describes herself as “a misplaced New Yorker at heart with Southern charm and hospitality in her bones.” When the personal style blogger is asked to describe her style though, she says it’s a little more complicated. “I like the characters of fashion, but I’m not necessarily one character,” she explains. “I dabble in them all.”

That’s probably because Henderson considers fashion a walking art form, “and I express myself creatively through that venue,” she says.

In fact, she’s been expressing herself through fashion her whole life. “As a toddler, my mom would pick me up and put me on her hip. I would flip through the clothing racks and pick my own outfits,” she says with a laugh.

That early interest sparked a passion that has led Henderson, a Rainsville native, to places she never expected, and she hopes it will one day lead to a career in fashion.

In school, Henderson’s friends encouraged her to share her unique style and distinctive look with others on the Internet. As a high school sophomore, she began posting her outfits on, an online fashion community where members from around the world share their looks and find inspiration. When she discovered that many lookbook members also had blogs, she started her own;

The blog gave this small-town girl with big-city dreams an opportunity to introduce her unique take on fashion not only to others around the country, but also to people around the world. And she caught the eye of at least one fashion mogul.

Teen Vogue’s styles feature director Andrew Bevan contacted Henderson after seeing her blog. Bevan was intrigued by Henderson’s sense of style and wanted to feature her blog in the magazine. “Here is a man who is constantly surrounded by the top in fashion — the hot celebrities and best designers — but he saw potential in me,” says Henderson.

Henderson says thrift shops are a favorite for unique fashion finds. “It’s like searching for treasure,” she says.

Henderson says thrift shops are a favorite for unique fashion finds. “It’s like searching for treasure,” she says.

“I’ve read the magazine for years,” she adds. “I believe Andrew has a very good understanding of what works and what doesn’t in the fashion world. I’m so grateful and blown away that he saw potential in me.”

Being featured in Teen Vogue really boosted the popularity of her already esteemed blog. At one point, the blog had more than 12,000 views each month. “I love that the blog has drawn an audience to me,” Henderson says. “It’s gotten my art of fashion exposure without me already being in the industry.”

The blog has also brought Henderson and her mother, Terri, who serves as her photographer, even closer together. “I’m closer to my mom than anybody else in the world,” she says. “We’ve both grown and learned a lot through the blog. As time has gone on, she’s definitely stepped up her game and improved, as have I. It’s cool that we share this.”

Together, they seek out interesting locations for photo shoots and keep a camera with them so they are ready to take advantage whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. “Honestly, I know this is very cliché, but I see inspiration almost everywhere,” she says.

Often asked to help friends put together or style outfits, Henderson says she’s flattered by those requests. “It gives me so much joy to not only share my creative talent but also to know my friends take me seriously enough to ask for and take my advice,” she says. “For them to also value my opinion and believe that I have a good understanding of fashion is great. It helps further my experience. Fashion is something you have to practice.”

Hannah Henderson of Rainsville started her own fashion blog when she was a high school sophomore. features her personal take on fashion.

Hannah Henderson of Rainsville started her own fashion blog when she was a high school sophomore. features her personal take on fashion.

Her one rule about fashion that she shares with everyone is this: do what makes you happy. “Don’t be afraid of what other people are going to think,” says Henderson. “Don’t be scared to go out of the box and push yourself further in what you’re wearing, because it’s growth and it’s creativity.

“In my opinion, anybody can pull off anything,” she adds. “You just have to have the will, the want to and the confidence to wear it. Figure out what style you like, what you enjoy looking at, what you believe is really you and go for it because it’s fun. It’s a reflection of who you are.”

She also believes that while department stores are great for some things, people shouldn’t be limited when creating their unique style. “I shop everywhere — the mall, online, thrift stores and antique shops,” she says. “For me, I enjoy the hunt. It’s like searching for treasure. I like vintage for that reason. Each piece has a story behind it. It’s been through different people’s lives, and it carries with it those stories.”

Henderson is currently enrolled at Northeast Alabama Community College but will soon transfer to Auburn University where she will continue working toward a degree in fashion merchandising. She then plans to move to New York to pursue a career in the fashion industry. “I’m very open-minded about the exact job,” she says, “but I know I want to work in the heart of the fashion industry and experience all the different aspects of fashion.”

Maximize your wardrobe

Hannah Henderson offers these suggestions for getting the most mileage out of your wardrobe.

  • Every woman should have a pair of black ankle boots. They can be dressed up, dressed down or worn with jeans, a skirt or tights. They go with everything and are super chic but understated while still giving a little bit of edge.
  • It’s true. The little black dress is a staple for wardrobes, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Try polka dots, mesh sleeves, a collar or anything else. Branch out and make it fun.
  • Money doesn’t equal style. I’ve “thrifted” a lot of my clothes. It’s more about finding what you love wherever you can.
  • My favorite part of styling is the jewelry. It adds a bit of razzle-dazzle to any outfit. I love antique pieces such as a cameo. Bracelets are awesome because they can be stacked or worn alone. Rings are fun and interesting. Don’t fear stacking them, too.



By Kerry Scott

Some call it refurbishing. Others call it repurposing. Still others call it recycling. But they’re all referring to the same thing: taking old, forgotten pieces of furniture or household items that were destined for the junk pile and breathing new life into them. Meet four women with the remarkable ability to turn ordinary finds into extraordinary treasures.

Becky Phillips & Janet Williams

Janet Williams (left) and Becky Phillips sell items they have revived at “The Vintage Workshop” at Myrtle Jane’s in Fort Payne.

Janet Williams (left) and Becky Phillips sell items they have revived at “The Vintage Workshop” at Myrtle Jane’s in Fort Payne.

Longtime friends Becky Phillips and Janet Williams say finding furniture to redo is a lifestyle for them. They’ve done it for as long as they can remember. But in 2012, the two decided to try doing it for profit. They opened a booth called “The Vintage Workshop” at Myrtle Jane’s in Fort Payne — an antiques boutique featuring upcycled and repurposed items.

At the time, Williams’ son was being deployed to Afghanistan, and she needed an outlet to keep her mind occupied. Phillips’ daughter had gotten engaged, and she planned to use her profits to help pay for the wedding.

Two years later, the pair are still at it. “It’s addictive,” says Phillips. “Once you start, you’re hooked. We’re always on the prowl for unique items for our booth.”

One of their first big buying sprees took place at the World’s Longest Yard Sale. “By the time we got home, we had that truck packed so high we had to strap everything down,” Phillips says.

Williams says they usually have a vision of how a piece will turn out before it is purchased.

Phillips and Williams look for unique and vintage furniture to paint and distress for a one-of-a-kind look.

Phillips and Williams look for unique and vintage furniture to paint and distress for a one-of-a-kind look.

While some items are left untouched, most of the furniture is painted — some get two-toned paint jobs, others are stained or distressed. Aside from larger furniture pieces, the redoing duo also rehabs smaller items such as lamps and frames.

Both women have other jobs — Phillips is a nurse, and Williams is a high-school secretary — but spend an additional 12 to 20 hours per week on their “second job.” It takes time, they say, to hunt for pieces and then bring them back to life. But neither has plans to stop.

“This is a form of therapy for me,” says Williams. “It’s a job, but if it ever became a chore, I could elect to no longer do it.”

Michele Smith

The very first item Michele Smith refinished was a hand-me-down chest of drawers that a family member gave her. The refurbished piece was used in her daughter’s bedroom. “It was in great shape, but it needed to be updated,” says Smith.

Michele Smith searches in antique stores, thrift shops and online to find items to redo for her home. This hutch was painted and distressed. She also recycled frames to create a custom bulletin board and magnetic board.

Michele Smith searches in antique stores, thrift shops and online to find items to redo for her home. This hutch was painted and distressed. She also recycled frames to create a custom bulletin board and magnetic board.

That first repainted piece opened her eyes to other possibilities. When she needed items for her home, or her children’s homes when they moved away, she searched antique shops and thrift stores and the DeKalb County Alabama! – Buy, Sell, Trade page on Facebook. “I love the transformation process,” she says. “You can find well-built, solid-wood furniture at really good prices. With a little work you can create something special that reflects your personal style.”

Smith, a graphic designer and local business owner, also put her talent to work when she updated her offices last summer. She combined antique and junk store bargains with new purchases to create a unique “vintage industrial” feel. With help from her husband and business partner, Stephen, she even built a custom farm-style conference table.

Smith finds inspiration in magazines, as well as on blogs and websites like Pinterest. She then uses her imagination to replicate items she finds. “In a magazine, I once saw a bulletin board made from an old door,” she says. “I loved it. We searched and eventually found an old door that had been stored in a barn loft for years. We bought it and created our own bulletin board.”

Anyone with a little creativity and a willingness to try something new can refinish furniture, Smith believes. She suggests starting with something small such as a picture frame and painting and distressing it to make a bulletin board, magnetic board or chalkboard. “There are so many things you can do with frames, and you can find them everywhere,” she says.

Merle Wilson

Estate liquidator Merle Wilson says her love of antique shopping was inherited from several relatives. “My Aunt Rachel would go to Mr. Siebert’s antique auction in Mentone every Sunday afternoon,” recalls Wilson, who later inherited her aunt’s home.

This orange leather chair is one of Merle Wilson’s favorite finds. It was destined for the trash before she found it and had it restored. She loves pieces like this one that have a history.

This orange leather chair is one of Merle Wilson’s favorite finds. It was destined for the trash before she found it and had it restored. She loves pieces like this one that have a history.

The house was small, and there wasn’t room for large family gatherings, so Wilson and her husband, Randy, built on — incorporating antiques and flea market finds throughout.

“I told the cabinetmaker that I wanted to do something unconventional,” she says. “I found old table legs, tin ceiling tiles and some architectural pieces and asked him to incorporate them into the design.”

She has no rules about what she buys for herself. “It doesn’t have to be an antique or expensive,” she explains. “The pieces I pick aren’t always in wonderful shape either, but they appeal to me. I think the flaws add character. You know the piece was loved and well used. It tells a story.”

It takes a lot of imagination to see the beauty in some items, though. One of Wilson’s favorite pieces is a turn-of-the-century chair that her husband thought should be chunked. She took the chair and some orange leather — another flea market find — to an upholstery shop and asked them to make it beautiful. “I wanted my husband to eat his words,” she jokes.

While she’s refinished many pieces over the years, arthritis keeps Wilson from doing much of the laborious work herself now. She relies on others to do the work. “I can’t do as much of the work myself these days, but that’s never been my favorite part,” she says. “I love to see a finished piece when it’s lived up to its potential.”

Wilson has combined fine antiques and flea market finds, painted and wood furniture, family heirlooms and tchotchkes to create an inviting custom look for her home. “People ask how I do it,” she says, “and I can’t really tell them. I just find pieces that I like and see promise in. If I like it, it’s in. I guess that’s my only rule.”

On the treasure hunt

U.S. 11 Antique
Alley Yard Sale
May 15-18 
Visit for details about this 500-mile yard sale that runs from Meridian, Miss., to Bristol, Va.

World’s Longest Yard Sale

Aug. 7-10 
Visit to plan your route on this 690-mile yard sale that travels from Gadsden, Ala., to Addison, Mich.

Mountain Trails

50 Mile Yard Sale
Aug. 28 – Sept. 1 
This sale extends from Section to Bryant along Highway 71. Visit for more details. 

Lessons from a shoeshine

By Fred Johnson
Executive Vice President and General Manager

There is a pair of black wing-tipped shoes in my closet. I do not wear them. They are there because they belonged to and remind me of my dad. He often said that you can tell a lot about a person from their shoes.

Fred Johnson

Fred Johnson

Dad grew up during the Great Depression. He knew what it was like to not have the shoes he needed. When he got a pair, he learned how to take exceptional care of them. The wing-tips in my closet are probably close to 60 years old. They’ve been well worn but they could easily be on a store’s display shelf. Dad also reminded me that shoes, like our lives, don’t just naturally look good. It takes a lot of effort to keep them that way, and there are some pretty good lessons to be learned from a shoeshine. Here are a few.

First, a good shoeshine begins with good shoes. Cheap shoes will never look better than when you first put them on. Good shoes can almost always be restored to their original luster. Also, if you’re not careful, the cost of replacing cheap stuff over and again will likely be more in the long run than if you just wait until you can afford quality from the start. One of our most pressing social issues today lies with our tendency, often most notable in our younger generations, to settle for anything that immediately satisfies us rather than waiting until we can obtain what we really need. You can apply that to politics, relationships or just about anything else. Regardless, the principle holds. If you want a good shine, start with good leather.

Second, the difference between a good shine and a great one is simple. Always clean the leather first. A good scrub with a quality saddle soap will wash away the grit and grime and open the leather’s pores so it will better receive the polish and wax. If you skip this step you’re just polishing dirt. The life application here should be pretty evident. Whether we are trying to sell something or just present ourselves, if there is dirt on the surface, it is best to clean it up. In the end, the world isn’t too forgiving when we simply try to gloss it over.

Next, remember that there is no substitute for “elbow grease.” Polish has to be rubbed in and buffed out. That takes extra effort. Skip it and the shine suffers. Beware of easy spray and wipe solutions. The time-honored practice of rubbing in a good wax and then buffing with brushes and cloth has even inspired music. Remember “Get Rhythm” from Johnny Cash? It is the extra effort that results in the proper shine of a job done right. Many things in our lives would shine brighter if we just took the time and effort to make it happen.

Finally, never forget the heel. It is so sad to see any worthwhile job ultimately left undone. What does it say about us if our shoes look great — until someone looks at the heel? Remember, anything worth starting should be worth finishing — right?

Your FTC has served you for sixty years. We started with good leather and we’ve done our best to keep it looking bright and shiny. With your support we’ll keep it up, and don’t worry: we won’t forget to finish the heel. Thanks for letting us serve you.

Glorious Grilling!

Apple Butter Pork Chops with Cola Pecan Glaze

The flavors in this dish just seem to be meant for each other.

For the chops:

  • 4 one-inch thick pork chops, bone-in or boneless
  • 1 1/2 cups apple butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Butter
  • 1 can of Coke (not diet)
  • Handful of finely chopped apples
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • Parsley flakes
  • Salt and pepper dashes
  • Crushed pecans

Place chops in a shallow glass dish. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour marinade mixture over chops. Cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours, overnight if possible. Remove pork chops from marinade. Place on grill approximately six inches above medium-hot coals. Grill, turning and basting with marinade.

For the glaze: In a small skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until tender. Carefully add in the remaining ingredients and allow the Coke to reduce to half. Once the mix starts to bubble it will reduce quickly, so be ready to remove it from the heat. If the mix burns the sugar, the Coke will become bitter and you will need to start over. Drizzle glaze over chops and serve immediately.

Zesty Cheater Wings

This recipe is so easy that it’s like cheating.

12-24 mini chicken wings and drums

  • Zesty Italian dressing
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Minced green pepper
  • Minced onion
  • Dried parsley flakes
  • Hot Sauce

Marinate the chicken in equal parts of Italian dressing and barbecue sauce, toss in some hot sauce and spoon in a few tablespoons of minced peppers, onions and some dried parsley flakes. Cover, chill for a couple of hours and grill until juices run clear.

Grilled Strawberry Pound Cake

Grilled Pound Cake3This is my all-time favorite grilling recipe for an after-meal sweet tooth.

  • Nonstick spray
  • Pound cake slices
  • Spray butter, such as Parkay
  • Brown sugar (optional)
  • Strawberry ice cream
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Strawberry syrup
  • Toasted sliced almonds

If you fear placing slices of pound cake directly on a grill, try using a grilling basket or use a sheet of heavy duty foil to make a griddle-like surface. Use the nonstick spray to lightly coat the grill or foil as it heats up. Use butter spray or melted butter to lightly coat each slice of pound cake. Grill until edges are browned and the slice is heated evenly. If desired, sprinkle the slices lightly with brown sugar before removing from the grill. Place a slice on a plate, top with ice cream, sliced strawberries, drizzle with strawberry syrup and top with almonds.

Whiskey London Broil

  • 1 (2- to 3-pound) London broil or flank steak
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup whiskey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all of the marinade ingredients. In a resealable bag, combine the meat and marinade. Chill in refrigerator for at least five hours (overnight or all day is better).

When ready, heat up the grill and wipe a bit of oil on the grates or use nonstick spray. Remove the beef from the marinade and cook directly over the heat, turning as needed until outside is evenly cooked. I hate to put a time on this because it really depends on the thickness of your cut. You are probably looking at four to eight minutes per side, possibly more. Cook to your desired doneness. Allow to rest for a few minutes on a plate covered with foil. Slice thin and serve hot.

Meet the Deck Chef

Gas or Charcoal? Kent Whitaker says both. The grillmaster likes the flexibility of grills, so he can tailor a cooking method based on the cuisine.

Gas or Charcoal? Kent Whitaker says both. The grillmaster likes the flexibility of grills, so he can tailor a cooking method based on the cuisine.

By Anne P. Braly 

Kent Whitaker wasn’t born with a silver spatula in his mouth. Like every grill master, there was a time when Whitaker knew nothing about grilling. Granted, it’s hard for him to remember the exact moment he took to the grill, knowing how to coax the best flavor from the meat that lay before him.

But now at the age of 47, he says it was during his teenage years that he began grilling seriously, learning a good deal of his technique from his dad.

“Outdoor cooking has always been a big part of our family,” Whitaker says. “Both sets of grandparents loved to grill. But it was my dad who ruled charcoal grilling.” His dad’s instruction, along with a good deal of trial and error, Whitaker admits, helped him hone his skills at the grill.

“I’ve never had anything blow up or caught a car on fire like in the commercials,” he says. “I was cleaning old grease off my smoker, and there was so much smoke that a neighbor ran over to see if our house was on fire.”

One great thing about grilling is its portability. Whitaker frequently takes his grill on the road to football games, including the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

One great thing about grilling is its portability. Whitaker frequently takes his grill on the road to football games, including the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Whitaker has authored numerous cookbooks sharing his love of the grill, with valuable tips on smoking, barbecuing and grilling meats as well as recipes.

“I’m still perfecting things and love the learning process and trying new things,” he says, adding that he loves to try grilling new foods and adding twists to recipes.

“Some have not been what I call successes, though!” he says. “You learn by trial and error; some stuff you pick up in restaurants or class.”

Cooking Methods

bigstock-Backyard-BBQ-Grilling-Party-St-34020527 (1)Whitaker says the first thing one should know about grilling is the difference between cooking methods.

  • Smoking uses very low heat (52° F – 140° F). Several hours up to several days, depending on temperature.
  • Barbecuing also uses low heat (190° F – 300° F). Takes several hours with low, slow heat.
  • Grilling requires high heat (400° F – 550° F ). Hot and fast and ready in minutes.

Once you’ve learned the basics, he says it’s time to experiment with different rubs and marinades, as well as meats and other foods.

Whitaker has several monikers attached to his love of grilling. “Cornbread” is one; “Rib Bone” another. But most know him as the “Deck Chef.” And that’s where you’ll find him on the Web:, a site with recipes as well as a place to buy his cookbooks.

Southern Celebrations

Festivals highlight big and small icons of rural life

By Elizabeth Wootten 

It’s not every day that people stop to celebrate watermelons. Or MoonPies. Or crape myrtles. But throughout the summer, many counties and cities host unique festivals devoted to such unheralded aspects of life in the South. And the celebrations they put on can give you and your family the opportunity to experience all kinds of fun activities.

Not sure where to start? The Internet is a great tool that can help you during the planning stage. Finding directions, events and hotels is made easy by travel and tourist websites. With a little research, you can have your trip mapped out in no time. Get to planning those one-of-a-kind adventures for you and your family today. Here are some festivals to get you started.

South Carolina

Walterboro Antiques, History & Arts Festival – May 16-17, Walterboro 

Hampton County  Watermelon Festival – June 14-22, Hampton

Known for the longest parade in South Carolina, this event includes a wide variety of events such as a parade, a street dance, Battle of the Towns, Mud Run and more. This year’s theme is The Hampton County Watermelon Festival Promoting Physical & Spiritual Wellness.

Lowcountry Blueberry Jam & Blueberry Festival – June 22, McClellanville

South Carolina Festival of Stars – June 27-28, Ninety Six

14th Annual South Carolina Festival of Discovery – July 10-12, Greenwood

Edisto Music & Shag Fest – Aug. 29-30, Edisto Beach

McCormick Gold Rush Festival – Sept. 20, McCormick

From breakfast at the McCormick United Methodist Church to panning for gold at the Heritage Gold Mine, there is plenty to do for all ages at this daylong festival. Live music, games, a silent auction and live artist demonstrations are just a few of the activities to enjoy.

Due West Fall Festival – Sept. 27, Due West

Beaufort Shrimp Festival – Oct. 3-4, Downtown Beaufort

Beaufort Shrimp Festival

Beaufort Shrimp Festival
Photo by Captured Moments Photography

Celebrating wild-caught shrimp and local food and fun in the Lowcountry, the festival features an arts and crafts market, a 5K run/walk, live entertainment, children’s activities and, of course, plenty of shrimp.

28th Annual Belton Standpipe Heritage & Arts Festival – Oct. 4, Belton


Poke Sallet Festival – May 9-10, Gainesboro

A tractor show, quilt show, iris show, Outhouse Race and Poke Sallet Eating Contest are some of the features this year. Kids can enjoy the day, too, with a petting zoo, rides and games.

Annual Highway 52 Yard Sale – May 16-17, Macon County 

Country Fried Festival at Milky Way Farm – June 7-8, Pulaski 

4th Annual Genealogy Jamboree and Pioneer Day – June 12-14, Cumberland Gap

The Secret City Festival – June 13-14, Oak Ridge

Defeated Creek Bluegrass Festival – June 13-14, Defeated Creek

Lions Club Annual Hillbilly Days – June 19-21, Lafayette

Bell Buckle RC-Moon Pie Festival – June 21, Bell Buckle

The Southeastern Tourism Society has named this festival a Top 20 Event. A 10-mile run kicks off the event, with a parade, bluegrass music, a performance by Speakeasy, the coronation of the king and queen and more sprinkled throughout the day.

The 15th Annual Lavender Festival – June 21, Oak Ridge

Lynchburg Frontier Days – June 26-28, Lynchburg

Nine Mile Bluegrass Festival – June 27-28, Pikeville

Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree & Crafts Festival – July 4-5, Smithville

Celebrate Independence Day weekend with traditional Appalachian music and old-time fun. Beginning at 9 a.m. each day, the festival will include more than 35 categories of music and dancing as well as food and craft booths.

Smokin’ in McMinnville BBQ Festival – Aug. 8-9, McMinnville

Franklin Jazz Festival – Aug. 30-31, Franklin

32nd Annual Standing Stone Marbles Festival & National Rolley Hole Championships – Sept. 13, Hilham

ESPN, ABC Evening News, Sports Illustrated and others have featured this one-of-a-kind festival. Although registration is required for the Rolley Hole Tournament, activities open to all include marble making, a swap meet and demonstrations.

Half Moon Music Festival – Sept. 14, Ten Mile

Rockwood Fall Festival 2014 – Oct. 4, Rockwood

6th Annual October Sky Festival – Oct. 19, Oliver Springs

European American Heritage Festival – Oct. 25, Pulaski


33rd Annual Little River Days – May 16-17, Hopkinsville

The Lower Town Arts & Music Festival – May 16-17, Paducah

Mountain Memories Festival – June 6-7, Frenchburg 

Stringbean Memorial Festival – June 19-21, Jackson County

Bluegrass and mountain music honoring the memory of David “Stringbean” Akeman. Music classes and workshops.

!8th Annual Duncan Hines Festival

18th Annual Duncan Hines Festival

18th Annual Duncan Hines Festival – July 12, Bowling Green 

Berea Celtic Festival – Aug. 15-18, Berea

Swift Silver Mine Festival – Aug. 29-31, Campton

Hatfield-McCoy Heritage Days 2014 –  Aug. 29-31, Pikeville

Tobacco Festival – Labor Day Weekend, Sandy Hook

Blazin’ Bluegrass Festival – Sept. 18-20, Whitley City

Gourd Patch Arts Festival

Gourd Patch Arts Festival

Gourd Patch Arts Festival – Sept. 20, Mayfield

25th Annual World Chicken Festival – Sept. 25-28, London

A tribute to the heritage of Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, this international celebration includes a variety of attractions, from Chick-O-Lympics and Barnyard games to face painting and a car show.

Cave Run Storytelling Festival – Sept. 26-27, Morehead 

Oak Grove Tourism's Butterfly Festival

Oak Grove Tourism’s Butterfly Festival
Photo by Janet Young

Morgan County Sorghum Festival – Sept. 26-28, West Liberty 

Oak Grove Tourism’s Butterfly Festival – Sept. 27, Oak Grove  

From a monster mural to an insect road show exhibit, there are activities for children of all ages. Learn about nature through hands-on activities during the day, and stay for the release of hundreds of butterflies at the end of the day.

The Murray Highland Festival – Oct. 25, Murray


30th Annual Poke Salat Festival – May 16-17, Arab 

Mentone Rhododendron Festival – May 17-18, Mentone

On Friday, there will be a bonfire in the town square where you can enjoy marshmallow roasting, storytelling, and live entertainment. The festival also includes food, arts and crafts, children’s events, live music and more.

NACC Latino Festival

NACC Latino Festival
Photo by Angie Stewart

NACC Latino Festival – June 7, Rainsville

31st Annual Sand Mountain Potato Festival – July 4, Henagar

Main Street Music Festival – Aug. 8-9, Albertville 

Ardmore Crape Myrtle Festival – Aug. 30, Ardmore

Purchase crape myrtles of all colors and sizes as well as other plants and flowers at this event. You can also experience crafts, antique cars and tractors, children’s activities and more.

The 44th Annual St. William Seafood Festival – Aug. 30, Guntersville

Best known for its famous gumbo, the festival is the primary fundraiser for St. William Catholic Church and attracts seafood lovers from near and far. Come enjoy freshly prepared food at Civitan Park on Lake Guntersville.

Ider Mule Days – Sept. 1, Ider

Riverfest Barbecue Cook-off – Sept. 19-20, Decatur 

Boom Days Heritage Celebration – Sept. 20, Fort Payne 

New Hope Annual Outdoor Juried Arts & Crafts Festival

New Hope Annual Outdoor Juried Arts & Crafts Festival

New Hope Annual Outdoor Juried Arts & Crafts Festival – Sept. 27-28, New Hope 

48th Annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention – Oct. 3-4, Athens

Athens Storytelling Festival – Oct. 23-25, Athens

Broadband Builds Business

Small businesses depend on broadband access as they drive America’s economy

Every day across rural America, small business owners are taking care of their communities ­— from grocery stores, restaurants and service stations to beauty shops, newspapers and banks.

Not only are these small businesses meeting our local needs, but they are also a vital part of our country’s economic recovery. According to reports compiled by the ADP Research Institute, the six-month period from September 2013 to February 2014 found that businesses with fewer than 50 employees created some 455,000 jobs, or 42.8 percent of all jobs created.

As small business owners put people to work — and generate some 46 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — they increasingly rely on broadband Internet access to manage and grow their companies. In fact, reports from the U.S. Small Business Administration show that broadband is one of their most important resources.

“Access to high-quality broadband Internet service is absolutely vital for small businesses seeking to grow their operations,” says Rick Schadelbauer, an economist with NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. “It allows small business owners to cost-effectively promote the unique aspects of their operations and provides access to customers and markets that would be otherwise unattainable.”

Beyond having a website, small businesses are also using their broadband connections to engage with customers through social media. They are using online software for functions such as project management, bookkeeping and sales tracking. And they are networking with vendors to maintain inventory and track orders.

As broadband becomes the lifeblood of small business, telecommunications providers like us remain committed to delivering reliable, affordable broadband to rural America.

TelcoBadgeProof2Look for the “Broadband Builds Business” logo in our magazine throughout the year as we highlight companies who are using broadband to create new business opportunities and to bring new services to their communities. 

  •  Are you a small business owner? Share your story of how you’re using broadband to grow your business at We may feature you in our magazine!


The face of Small Business

In communities across the region, small businesses are using the power of broadband to operate more efficiently and provide better service.

Lifeline Service

When you need help paying for telephone service

Is your annual household income at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household of its size? Do you or someone in your household participate in any of the following low-income government assistance programs? If so, you may qualify for Lifeline Service.

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Section 8 Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program

To find out whether you qualify for Lifeline assistance, customers must fill out standard forms, available at your local telephone company’s office, as mandated by the Federal and/or State government. Your telephone company is not responsible for determining who qualifies for these programs or who receives assistance. Customers must meet specific criteria in order to obtain assistance with their local telephone service, and qualifying is dependent upon government-established guidelines. To qualify for Lifeline credit, each customer must apply and provide proof that he/she, or a household member for whom he/she is financially responsible, participates in at least one of the programs listed above or that the customer meets the income-based requirements. Additional eligibility requirements may also apply. Customers must choose to apply the Lifeline discount to a landline or a wireless number, not both.

For more details about Lifeline Service and to apply for assistance, please contact your local telephone company.

“Is my child the victim of a cyberbully?”

It is difficult enough for a child to face a traditional bully. But as we learned in the March/April issue, cyberbullies can be particularly damaging because they are always present. Using the same technology that brings fun and convenience into our lives, a cyberbully victimizes people through email, social media and text messaging.


Carissa Swenson is the owner and technology specialist of TechTECS, a technology training, education, consulting and support company.

If your child is the victim of a cyberbully, it is important to recognize it and intervene as early as possible. Children who are victims of cyberbullying may:

  • Become withdrawn or depressed, and exhibit anti-social behavior
  • Say things about hating school or not having friends
  • Experience a drop in their grades at school
  • Appear anxious when their cell phone rings or they receive emails and texts
  • Quickly stop using the computer, cell phone or other technology when you enter the room
  • Decide to quit using the Internet, cell phones and other technology

What can you do if you see these signs in your child? In my next article, we will discuss ways to respond if you find out your child is the victim of a cyberbully.

The IP Evolution

Support for ‘middle mile’ networks is vital to keeping rural regions connected to Internet

The technology that powers the Web — known as Internet Protocol, or IP — has become the standard for transmitting information between devices.  As we use this technology to connect everything from security systems to appliances, in addition to watching movies and sharing files over the Internet, it is more important than ever that federal regulations support the “IP Evolution.”

When you use your Internet connection and our local network to access the nation’s Internet backbone, your information travels across “middle mile” networks. Because these networks are a vital connection between your local provider and the rest of the Internet, it is important that our nation’s policies support their development — especially as people in rural America grow to rely more on broadband connections for education, business growth, entertainment, telemedicine and general communications.

“The networks required to connect rural areas to Internet ‘on-ramps’ are costly, and consumer demand is increasing the need for bandwidth,” says Mike Romano, senior vice president of policy for NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. “To keep rural broadband services affordable, such networks need universal service support.”

As your telecommunications provider, we will continue working through NTCA with other companies like ours across the U.S. to encourage changes in federal regulations that will help consumers take advantage of the IP Evolution.