Wade on Birmingham

Archive for December, 2014

The 2015 Birmingham food and drink preview

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Pepper Place Saturday Market - farmer, watermelons

The popular Pepper Place Saturday Market opens its 15th year on April 11.

Birmingham shouldn’t be the food capital of the South. It should be Food Capital of the World.

Don’t believe us? Let’s look into the world of tomorrow, the world of fantastic food ahead.


  • Acoustic Soup: The fund-raiser for VSA Alabama was nearly frozen out this year thanks to a burst of ice and snow. Hopefully the ninth annual event will dodge winter’s grasp. Chefs, soups, artists’ bowls and the opportunity to support arts programming for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. WorkPlay, Lakeview.


  • Feb. 19: The 14th annual Taste of Homewood will have more than 30 restaurants and other vendors to delight and tickle palettes. $30-$35. Rosewood Hall.
  • Feb. 27-28: The newly christened Food Media South stays in Birmingham after a change in ownership to the Southern Foodways Alliance. The digital conference once called Food Blog South is already sold out. It takes place at Rosewood Hall in Homewood.



  • April 10-11: The 17th annual St. Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival serves more than 8,500 people, but also has raised more than $310,000 for area charities. Baked kibbee and spinach pies for everyone! Free. Southside.
  • April 11: The biggest farmer’s market in Birmingham, Pepper Place Saturday Market, kicks off its 15th year. Lakeview. [Previous coverage]
  • April 11: The Alabama Asian Culture and Food Festival is a fund-raiser with everything: drummers, hand-painted umbrellas, cookbooks, fashion show, dancers, a walking tour of Asia and seven cuisines. $8. Zamora Shrine Temple, Irondale. [Previous coverage]
  • April 18: The 10th annual Gumbo Gala moves to Regions Field for the Episcopal Place fund-raiser. The organization raised $50,000 in 2014 to provide housing for elderly and disabled adults. Teams compete to see whose gumbo is greatest. $12-$15.
  • April 24: AIDS Alabama and AIDS Alabama South are putting together the 5th annual Dining Out for Life, an opportunity for diners in Birmingham to support the cause at participating restaurants. At least 25 percent of the check will go to these organizations.
  • April 24-26: The 18th annual Corks and Chefs will complement Magic City Art Connection in Linn Park downtown. Two afternoons of sampling the city’s best dining, along with wine tastings and seminars. $30-35.


  • June 5-6: Magic City Brewfest … a hundred beers from at least a dozen breweries, a great way to welcome summer at Sloss Furnaces while raising money for Free the Hops. It will likely sell out. $34.50-$40.


  • Shelby County Shindig and BBQ Cook-Off: Who has the best ribs? The best sauce? These questions and more will be answered once and for all at this fund-raiser for the Shelby County Arts Council and the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce. $10 to sample barbecue. Shelby County Courthouse, Columbiana.



  • Sept. 7: They may drop the big Moon Pie tonight in Mobile, but how many Moon Pies can you drop in your mouth? The 24th annual Labor Day Celebration and Moon Pie Eatin’ Contest is for you. The state’s largest competition has divisions for adults and children. $2-$3. Tannehill Historical State Park, McCalla.
  • Sept. 19: Put your foot down. The Grape Stomp at Morgan Creek Vineyards will give attendees the opportunity to crush grapes in barrels, along with a wine tasting (not sure if the two are related). Harpersville.
  • Oktoberfest: Join in the fun at the 35th annual celebration at Das Haus downtown. Traditional German cuisine, kegs, beer garden, beer hall and a wide assortment of European beers.


  • Oct. 1-3: Opa! The 43rd annual Birmingham Greek Festival takes place at Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Southside. A fund-raiser for various area charities. Don’t even think about using the drive-through when you can stop in, eat and shop.
  • Oct. 2-3: The 10th annual Alabama Butterbean Festival isn’t just about the beans. Look for fireworks, a car show, a pageant and a carnival in Pinson. Free.
  • Breakin’ Bread: More than 40 restaurants will provide the samples, paired with beers and wines, in beautiful Railroad Park. Fund-raiser for various area charities. $50-$100.
  • Eat Drink Read Write Festival: The Birmingham Public Library puts on a week of events, many free, including competitions, tasting, a poetry slam and more. [added Jan. 3]
  • Friedman Family LJCC Jewish Food Festival: The 13th annual event has traditional foods plus desserts from the bakery. Free. Levite Jewish Community Center.
  • Magic Moments Kick’n Chick’n Wing Fest: The fund-raiser joined forces in its third year with music festival Cask and Drum. Includes a competition for Best Wings. To date, more than $40,000 has gone to Magic Moments.


  • Nov. 7-8: The 33rd annual St. Nicholas Russian/Slavic Food Festival is a bustling affair in tiny Brookside, a chance to sample stuffed holupki (cabbage) and halushki (dumplings). Plus, tours of the temple which dates back to 1894. Free. [Previous coverage]
  • Fall FestivAle: The 5th annual fund-raiser for Free the Hops offers seasonal, unique and rare beers from within and outside of Alabama. $29-$39. Regions Field. [Previous coverage]
  • TASTE: Or Trussville’s Art Show and Tasting Event comes back for a 7th year to the Trussville Civic Center with music, art and of course, food for everyone. $25-$35. [Previous coverage]



  • Trader Joe’s will open its first Alabama location at the Summit in the second half of 2015. (Sorry, no Publix downtown till early 2016.)

Video: Dancing at the St. Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival

Don’t miss the 2015 Birmingham sports preview!

the international regret line

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

On this side, regrets
and sorrow. On the tomor-
row side, hopes and dreams.

• • •

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The 2015 Birmingham sports preview

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

James Hinchcliffe, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

James Hinchcliffe races in the No. 27 GoDaddy car
at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

Birmingham isn’t just Barons and other-city football. Take a look at the loaded calendar of sports for 2015, including a February of nonstop track and field, plus marathons, new pro football, three basketball tournaments and the Tide playing home games in Hoover.


  • Birmingham Barons: The 2015 season begins at home on April 9 at Regions Field with a five-game series against the Mobile BayBears.
  • Crimson Tide: The University of Alabama baseball team will have its season opener Feb. 13 at the Hoover Met with 31 home games there. The Tide is spending the season off campus as Sewell-Thomas Stadium has a $35 million renovation.
  • SEC Tournament: Speaking of the Met, the conference capper returns May 19-24. Hoover has been the annual home of the tournament since 1998.


  • AHSAA Tournament: Boys and girls high school teams from 1A to 7A converge Feb. 23-28 at the BJCC’s Legacy Arena.
  • Birmingham Blitz: The semi-pro team should have games through March, with a new season starting in November.
  • Conference USA Tournament: For the first, and probably last, time, Birmingham will play host to the men’s and women’s tournament. (UAB’s Bartow Arena held the 1996 women’s tourney.) The women will play opening rounds at Bartow. The women’s semifinals on and the all the men’s games will be at the BJCC’s Legacy Arena. UAB will likely be dropped from Conference USA in 2015 after the school punted football.
  • SIAC Tournament: The men’s and women’s tournament returns March 3-7 to the CrossPlex.


  • Alabama Outlawz: The minor league team’s home opener is April 11 at Bill Harris Arena at the CrossPlex.
  • Birmingham Bowl: 11 a.m. Saturday. Legion Field. Florida vs. East Carolina. $30-$50. Airing on ESPN.
  • Birmingham Freedom: The 14th try’s the charm, as a new pro league with a new local franchise. The teams kick off May 16, schedule TBD.
  • Hoover Bucs: The first defending 7A champion will open its season on the road against Oakland in Murfreesboro, Tenn., probably on or near Aug. 21. We mention it because it’ll probably be on ESPN.
  • Labor Day Golden Classic: The annual event returns after a 3-year absence, pitting Miles against the University of North Alabama Sept. 6 (the day before Labor Day) at Legion Field.
  • Magic City Classic: The nation’s largest black college football game, played since 1924, is on Halloween at Legion Field.


  • Regions Tradition: The Champions Tour returns May 11-17 at Shoal Creek with a $2.2 million purse at stake.


  • Frozen Tide: The Alabama hockey team is off to a rousing 14-3 start, with home games at the Pelham Civic Complex throughout January, culminating in the SECHC Tournament Feb. 6-8.



  • Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama: Fans will see Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Will Power and two-time defending champ Ryan Hunter-Reay go by real fast. April 24-26 at Barber Motorsports Park.
  • Triumph SuperBike Classic: Excitement on two wheels, June 21-22 at Barber Motorsports Park.


  • Birmingham Vulcans: The first match of the year is Feb. 7 against Jackson at Krebs Field, Ramsay Park.


  • Magic City Half Marathon: Benefitting the Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Music Arts. Nov. 22.
  • Mercedes Marathon: Got what it takes to run the Boston Marathon? Prove it right here Feb. 20-22.
  • Vulcan Run: More than 1,500 runners will stream through downtown Nov. 7 in one of the most popular local 10K races.

Track and Field

  • AHSAA Indoor Tournament: High schools compete for state titles Feb. 5-7 at the CrossPlex.
  • College Tournaments: No less than five conferences will hold track and field championships over 13 days in February at the CrossPlex. Southland: Feb. 16-17; SWAC: Feb. 21-22; Sun Belt: Feb. 23-24; Conference USA: Feb. 25-26; SIAC: Feb. 27-28.
  • NCAA Division II Indoor Championship: The CrossPlex will hold the big event March 13-14; the Division I Championship will be there in 2016.


  • AHSAA Tournament: The high school state championship will be Oct. 29-30 at the CrossPlex.

Which events will you see in 2015? Shout it out in the comments.

Don’t miss the 2015 Birmingham food and drink preview!

lifehack, level 2015

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Ignore all advice
on T-shirts and memes, stick to
flattering haiku.

• • •

Read more haiku.

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Birmingham’s Amber Benson to face Reddit on Jan. 5

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Amber Benson, The Witches of Echo Park

Actress/writer/director Amber Benson wants you to ask her anything, as long as it’s weird.

With her new book, “The Witches of Echo Park” [Amazon | iTunes aff. links], coming out next week, the Birmingham native (now living in Los Angeles) will field questions as part of Reddit’s Ask Me Anything chat at 2 p.m. Jan. 5. But she’d prefer something beyond the boring standby questions.

Benson said via Tumblr that the Redditor asking the weirdest question wins a custom video from her. You win, she films herself praising you to your secret crush, video goes online, you and your crush live happily ever after.

“The Witches of Echo Park” arrives Jan. 6.

Amber Benson

“The Witches of Echo Park”

The Birmingham channel: The sporting life

Monday, December 29th, 2014

A look at Birmingham in videos …

The 800m run at the CrossPlex. From Greg Faith Hill.

Birmingham Bowl preview with Peter Loshak and Joe Duffy. From Sportsbook Review.

A look at the Birmingham Fencing Club in action. From Birmingham Fencing Club.

Michael Olmert highlight reel. From Lynn Olmert.

Skateboarding 2014. From Daniel Lawson.

Windsurfing on Double Oak Lake. From Leilani Carroll.

Christmas four-wheelers for James and Jaxon. From JamesDelisa.

Rickwood Field. From Ginnard Archibald.

Justin Craft talks about UAB football on “Our Issues: Birmingham.” From CW21/MY68.

Julia Ava Eyer, born Oct. 6 at UAB Hospital. From United for Life Foundation.

Alan Thompson and the UAB kidney chain. From UAB News.

Doc McKenzie and the Hi-Lites perform at Boutwell Auditorium downtown. From Jerol Tyson.

Friday’s Black Lives Matter rally at Lakeshore Parkway along Wildwood Centre. From al.com.

Brooke Alford performing at a trade show at the BJCC Exhibition Hall. From DMorris.

Chris Brown performing Dec. 21 at the BJCC Arena. From Ladyflame atl.

Callee the elephant shakes in slow motion at the Birmingham Zoo. From Bridget.

See the trailer for “Selma.”

• • •

Send us links to your videos. | More videos on the Birmingham channel.

the canvas of 365 days

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Should a calendar
be filled with moments to come
or blank with suspense?

• • •

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the unrepentant cheerleader

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

She spoke out for all
things good, never minding the
decay around her.

• • •

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#sundayread for Dec. 28, 2014

Sunday, December 28th, 2014
reading a newspaper

Photo: Carlo Mirante (CC)

My picks for #sundayread for Dec. 28, 2014, highlighting the year’s best reads:

More posts from Wade this week:

The latest #sundayread tweets

the second most 2014 thing ever

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

My bae? Turnt for this
Uber lumbersexual
fare with Ebola.

• • •

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Internal debate: Does Birmingham benefit from cheap gas?

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Area stations offer gas for less than $2/gallon, lowest since 2009

Birmingham gas stations

Motorists, start your pumps.

BirminghamGasPrices.com reports that four stations in the Birmingham area have gas under $2 per gallon. Prices haven’t been this low since early 2009.

  • $1.89/gal.: Marathon, near the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport
  • $1.95/gal.: Anis Food Mart, Bessemer
  • $1.96/gal.: Citgo, Bessemer
  • $1.99/gal.: Mystik, Ensley Highlands

The debate: Are low gas prices good for Birmingham?

Pro: Birminghamians need all the economic help they can get in a sluggish economy.

Con: Short-term economic benefits could cost residents in the long run: pollution, traffic, health problems.

Pro: Most stations are locally owned … shop local.

Con: Stations typically make their money on big markups on food and beverages.

Pro: Lower income workers will benefit the most from cheap gas.

Con: Fixing public transit would benefit more people overall.

Pro: Families won’t have to choose between filling the tank and other necessities.

Con: Low gas prices encourage purchases of SUVs and gas guzzlers.

Pro: Alabama makes those gas guzzlers!

Pro: People will drive more.

Con: Rush hour jams will be even worse.

Are low prices at the pump good for Birmingham? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Gas station

Photo: Riza Nugraha (CC)

how to recycle a year

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Let us not discard
a passing year but re-use
the best days again.

• • •

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Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Video: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Vanity Fair has the charming story of this annual ritual on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” as told by singer Darlene Love and band leader Paul Shaffer.

christmas keepsakes

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Take the laughter and
smiles and thoughtful cards and gifts
to cherish always.

• • •

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carbo-loading for the marathon flight

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

A couple of the
reindeer do Paleo, the
rest are gluten-free.

• • •

Read more haiku.

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