Cullman recognized for thriving tourism industry

Sen. Garlan Gudger Jr., R-Cullman, right, poses with Alabama State Tourism Director Lee Sentell, left, earlier this week. (contributed)

CULLMAN, Ala. – It is no question that Cullman has steadily risen to a prime spot in the must-travel list of the Southeast for day trips, festivals, restaurants and of course, all the natural beauty dotted throughout the county. The community presents some of the best experiences and hospitality the South has to offer, and the State of Alabama is taking notice.

During the Alabama Governors Conference on Tourism in Point Clear Aug. 26-29, Cullman walked away with two more accolades to add to its resume, as Rock the South won the “Event of the Year” award and Sen. Garlan Gudger Jr., R-Cullman, brought home the “Tourism Advocate-Government” award.

Nathan Baugh of 46 Logistics and Entertainment and figurehead of the Rock the South team, shared that he was blown away at the reach and impact that Rock the South has had over the years. “Twelve years ago, I don’t think we ever could have dreamed that Rock the South would reach as many people as it has,” he said, referencing the origins of the festival, which began as a way to bring the community together after the devastating tornadoes of 2011.

“The level of community support combined with the amount of people that come has surpassed all of our dreams,” Baugh said.

Baugh offered a humble perspective on receiving the award and statewide recognition, stating, “We don’t do it for the attention; we do it because we love it, but it is always nice to be recognized for the impact our events have on our great state. As three Alabama boys, it is special to be recognized by your state!”

Gudger said his passion for local tourism was realized after taking over the family business, Southern Accents Architectural Antiques. Gudger noted that many of his customers were coming from outside of Cullman; in fact, from all reaches of the country, making Cullman a hotspot for tourism.

Through the creation of the Cullman County Tourism Bureau – largely spearheaded by Gudger -tourism has continued to thrive as more and more visitors pile into the community to experience agricultural festivals, historic churches and abbeys and all the lake life north Alabama has to offer.

Upon receiving the award, Gudger beamed with pride, sharing, “It is an honor to receive the award for Tourism Government Advocate for the 2023 legislative session from the Alabama Tourism Department,” while noting the strength of Alabama’s tourism industry, and the propensity of growth for the state as a whole.

“As one of the state’s strongest economic drivers, tourism plays a major role in the future of Alabama!” he said.

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