Madison Living Magazine - September 2023

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The annual festival in historic downtown Madison is right around the corner! Check out what to expect this year.
Madison Street Festival Committee


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Madison Living 3
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John Few


Bob Labbe

Gregg Parker

Erin Coggins

Joshua Berry

Maria Rakoczy

Lee Marshall

John Peck

Mary Lynne Wright

Brandy Booth

Kassidy Wilkins


Donna Counts


French Salter


Madison Living Magazine

The Madison Record 7734 Madison Blvd. Suite 115 Huntsville, AL 35806

For story ideas, call John Few at 256-763-1150 or email

To advertise, call Donna Counts at 256-714-7152.

Madison Living is published monthly by Tennessee Valley Media, Inc. A one-year subscription to Madison Living is $30.79 for 12 issues per year. Single copies are available at select locations throughout the Madison area. To subscribe, call 256-772-6677.

Copyright 2023

4 Madison Living
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Rocket City Fair • September 14-23 • John Hunt Park

The Rocket City Fair returns September 14-23 with big rides and bold moves! The 2023 Rocket City Fair will be held next month at John Hunt Park, 2195 Jaycee Way in Huntsville, AL 35801. You won’t want to miss the classic fair food (funnel cake, anyone?), thrilling rides, live music, and fun for the entire family! There will also be entertainment, such as The Tickled Pink Petting Zoo starring Larry the Llama, Lady Houdini’s World-Renowned Escape Show, and the 2023 Concert Series. For more details, go to

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8 Madison Living THE GUIDE

NEACA 2023 Fall Craft Show • September 15-17 • Von Braun Center •

NEACA Fall 2023 Craft Show! There is no admission fee and it is open to the public. There will be over 100 crafters with items ranging from jewelry, pottery, home decor, outdoor decor, dolls, clothing, kitchen accessories, childrens items, food and much more. There will be a drawing for a $20 gift certificate every 2 hours that can be used during the show. Please check out and for more information.

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September 16

Black Jacket Symphony:

Saturday Night Fever

Mark C. Smith Concert Hall

September 19

Nothing More

Mars Music Hall

September 22

Huntsville Symphony Orchestra - Classical 1

Mark C. Smith Concert Hall

September 22

Moon Taxi

Mars Music Hall

September 23

Huntsville Reptile Expo

September 29-30


South Hall + East Hall

September 29-30

Matt Mathews

Mars Music Hall

October 4

Tash Sultana

Mars Music Hall

October 4

The Beach Boys

Mark C. Smith Concert Hall

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Upcoming concerts and events at the Von Braun Center Check out the many concerts and events scheduled for this month at the Von Braun Center. Go to their website for more details.
• Downtown Huntsville •
Madison Living 13 559157-1

We’ll Meet Again: A New American Musical • September 6 at 7 p.m. • Princess Theatre •

A patriotic and life-affirming story, “We’ll Meet Again” is inspired by the life of Henry Stern and his family’s remarkable odyssey and narrow escape from Nazi Germany, their immigration to America, and their integration and settlement in Alabama. The musical features 1930s and 1940s-era music, including many of the most popular songs and swing dances of the WWII era.






Sept.10th5p.m.AmerifestfeaturingJedEye, TimTuckerandmore





Sept.28th7p.m.Goldpine&CharlieArgo intheListeningRoom






14 Madison Living THE GUIDE
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Four bands in two days, food trucks, giveaways for kids, and pet-friendly! Bring your lawn chairs, coolers, and your friends to this free community event. On stage will be: September 16 at 4 p.m. The Mishaps will perform; The Zooks at 6 p.m. September 17 at 4 p.m. Remy Neal will take the stage. 3 Way Handshake will perform at 6 p.m.

16 Madison Living
Line Road Concert Series •
September 16-17 • 4 to 8 p.m. •
Park in Madison • 29768 Huntsville Brownsferry Road

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Ghosts and Ghouls aren’t the only ones up and about this Halloween season! Come see what’s got all the dogs barking for the Pooch Parade. Dress up your pup and come show off your tail-wagging friends, and if you’re pawsome enough, you could win at the doggy costume contest! Bark or Treat! Winners of the costume contest will receive a “Golden Dog Pass” for 2024.

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Scarecrow Trail Festival • September- October. • Huntsville Botanical Garden •

Bring the family out to see the Scarecrow Trail September – October, as the sometimes funny, sometimes scary and always exciting Scarecrows once again fill the Garden. Navigate through the sorghum maze, Haunted Hangouts, the Pumpkin Patch, enjoy weekend hayrides and be amazed by unique scarecrows and hay bale art sculptures placed throughout the Garden!

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Oktoberfest • September 15-17 • Redstone Arnesnal •

This year’s Oktoberfest at Redstone Arsenal will take place Sept. 15-17 at the Activity Field on Aerobee Road and is open to the entire North Alabama community. It promises fun for all. The annual Redstone festival attracts thousands of people each year. Some attend for the Ferris wheel and other carnival rides, others for the live entertainment. Always a draw to Oktoberfest is the authentic German cuisine.

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The highly anticipated 9th annual Crush Wine & Food Festival is back and better than ever, taking over the sprawling Big Spring Park West! With triple the footprint of previous years, festival-goers can expect an elevated experience complete with a chef demo stage, silent disco, and more wine, spirits, beer, and regional vendors than ever before.

22 Madison Living THE GUIDE
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The “Pinta”, a Replica of a Portuguese caravel used by Columbus and many early explorers will open as a “floating museum” for dockside educational tours this month. The ship will be docked starting Sept. 8 at Ditto Landing Marina in Huntsville until her departure on Sept. 18. In 2005, the Pinta was launched in Brazil after three years of construction. The ship was built by eighth-generation Portuguese shipwrights using the same methods and hand tools that were used to build the original in the 15th century. The Pinta was the first ship to sight land on the famous voyage of discovery on October 12, 1492. The general public is invited to step back in time and explore the Pinta for self guided tours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. No reservations are necessary. Tickets are purchased at the ship.

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Upcoming concerts

events at

Thursday, September 14

Alabama A&M Bulldog Bards Present: Much Ado About Nothing

Friday, September 15

Love Jones Presents: Women in Music

Sunday, September 17

CulturA Festival: A Celebration of Hispanic Culture, Food, and Music

Thursday, September 21 Lana Del Rey

Saturday, September 23

Brandi Carlile with Tanya Tucker

Thursday, September 28

Movies in the Meadow

Presents ‘Jason Isbell

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• Check out the many concerts and events scheduled for this month at the Orion Amphitheater. Go to their website for more details.
The Orion Amphitheater • MidCity District in Huntsville

Get ready for an electrifying musical journey that feeds the soul! Lowe Mill A&E’s signature concert series, Concerts on the Dock, is back and better than ever, bringing you an unforgettable lineup of live music curated by the renowned Marcus Pope. From September 8 to October 6, immerse yourself in the heart of Huntsville’s music scene as local and regional musicians take the stage under the iconic water tower. Marcus Pope, a musical maestro with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education/Performance, is the creative force behind this year’s concert series. As the founder of Pope’s School of Percussion and a percussion instructor at Randolph School, Marcus brings a wealth of expertise and passion to the event. The Fall Concert Series lineup is as follows: Sept. 8- Marcus Pope & Friends; Sept. 15- The Unorthodocks Band; Sept. 22- Kim Coffey and Friends; Sept. 29- Emily Joseph Band, and Oct. 6- Marcus Pope & Friends.

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City Lights & Stars Concert Series

September 8 & 22 at 7:30 p.m. • Burritt on the Mountain

City Lights & Stars Concert Series 30th season! Pack a picnic, dress casually, bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy a spectacular view of the city while listening to great music. Food trucks will be onsite with food and dessert available for purchase. Beer and wine available for purchase.

September 8 – Calypso Vision

Eclectic “Gumbo Mix” of Buffett-Style Trop and Classic Rock, grounded in good alternative roots, and a few Hippie Surprises, Calypso Vision brings its beach party ready to go, with all the spontaneous fun you need to turn an evening into a trip down island! Offering a “better attitude from another latitude”.

September 22 – In the Mood Swing Band

Calling Huntsville “Hometown”, Huntsville’s In the Mood is an exciting 21 piece big band. Specializing in swing and jazz making every occasion an exciting event. Influences include Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, Henry Mancini, Cole Porter Bobby Darrin, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.

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Dead Parrots Society Bash Madison Rotary Club’s fun-filled fundraiser

TThe Madison Rotary Club’s annual Dead Parrots Society Halloween Bash is a fun-filled fundraiser that benefits the organization’s multitude of community outreach programs.

The Madison Rotary Club is a driving force behind many city projects that strive to improve the quality of life around Madison. The club is the local chapter of the national and international Rotary Club organization that was founded in 1905 to improve communities through charitable initiatives. The Madison chapter has been active for over twenty years and in that time has endeavored several youth outreach programs and has supported numerous city im-

provement projects.

While the chapter has a variety of outreach areas, it has a special focus on helping local youth. The Madison Rotary Club works closely with the Madison City School District to supply school supplies and graduation regalia to underprivileged students, to support the summer lunch program, and to back the high school equivalent of the Rotary Club, Interact Clubs, at James Clemens and Bob Jones High Schools. One of the club’s larger programs for youth and veterans, as well, is their annual Thanksgiving Day basket program that provides full-fledged Thanksgiving meals to those in need.

Madison Living 27 LOOKING AHEAD

“I’m really proud of this,” Melissa Gibson, the former president of the Rotary Club and coordinator of the Dead Parrots Society Bash, shared. “We also, for one of our community service activities that we do, we provide usually, depending on the need, thirtyfive Thanksgiving Day baskets for students at Madison City Schools and also, we partner with Still Serving Veterans”.

Gibson credits the Rotary Club’s Youth Director, Fire Chief David Bailey, for the chapter’s thriving focus on uplifting the youth of Madison.

“Our youth director, Chief Bailey, he just has such a passion for youth,” Gibson said. “He just exudes all that, just loves young people and pouring into them, and he’s really taken a lot of time to meet with the schools and find out exactly where their needs are. So, this year we want to really focus a lot of our funds to go to those kids that need some extra help.”

Additionally, as part of its vocational training initiatives, the chapter partners with KTECH to sponsor a scholarship for a recent high school graduate from Madison city to enter trade school there.

“We also teach an ethics class there once a semester to their students, using the Rotary Four Way Tests and just teaching them what are good ethical ways to act once they do get that job. Sometimes that’s overlooked,” Gibson explained. “It’s just a good way to get to talk with a variety of different professionals from the community.”

The Madison Rotary Club further supports youth enrichment by contributing to hosting the yearly Rotary Youth Leadership Awards in North Alabama, a three-day youth leadership conference. The Madison chapter sponsors ten local students to attend the conference.

The Rotary Club’s fingerprints can be found on local schools and beyond as one of the key fundraisers and donors for city projects, such as, the Madison Library’s children’s garden, Home Place Park renovations, and most recently, the new community center and Kid’s Kingdom refurbishment.

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“We helped build the new amphitheater in Madison. We had a $50,000 donation to help with that. We were able to give a portable ventilator to Madison Hospital during COVID. All of this that we do come from proceeds from our one annual fundraising event,” Gibson said.

Its influence can even be found beyond the confines of the United States in a Honduras community the chapter adopted and, for which, the Madison Rotary Club sends doctors to provide medical care.

The Dead Parrots Society Halloween bash is both the party and fundraiser of the year that makes all of these initiatives possible. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the event benefit all the club’s charitable initiatives but this year will especially benefit its youth outreach programs. Gibson says the fundraising is especially important this year in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re really kind of just now seeing the effects of the pandemic throughout the community, and a lot of the funds that were given at the beginning of the pandemic are drying up. Then they’re gone and so, a lot of families are feeling the effect, and of course with inflation cost, gas and groceries and all of that, there’s a lot of families that are definitely struggling,” Gibson said.

This year, the fundraiser is expected to be bigger and better than ever. Originally named the Parrots of the Caribbean, the fundraiser was revamped in 2021 as a Halloween party and given a new name for the new theme, the Dead Parrots Society Bash. The night will be brought alive by a costume party, live music by local band JUICE, a dance floor, haunted house area, online auction, bar with a signature cocktail, and food trucks.

Mark your calendar for the party on Saturday, October 28. Tickets for the bash are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Visit for more.

30 Madison Living


The annual festival in Madison’s historic downtown is right around the corner. Check out what is in store for this year’s event


IIt’s an al fresco classroom. It’s a marketplace. It’s a gathering of artisans with collector-worthy artwork or homespun Americana. But most proudly, it’s a homecoming for anyone lucky enough to be a Madisonian. It’s the Madison Street Festival.

2023 marks the 41st festival when Madison’s downtown streets suddenly convert to a party for a day.

However, this ‘party’ doesn’t happen overnight. “For the last eight months, over 40 volunteers that make up the Madison Street Festival 501(c)3 organization have been working diligently and passionately behind the scenes to create another magical festival FREE to the community on October 7, opening at 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.,” MSF President Crystal McBrayer said.

“Each area has more participants than in years past, with a variety that will make every festivalgoer happy. Thank you to The Shoppes of Downtown Madison and the amazing homeowners who share this space with us on the first Saturday in October every year,” McBrayer said.

To kick off the festival, the MSF PARADE will start on Skate Park Drive at 9 a.m. and proceed down Mill Road to

Church Street, Front Street, Sullivan Street and disband at Madison Elementary School. “Make sure to head to the Entertainment Stage on Church Street for Opening Ceremonies, which begin when the parade ends,” McBrayer said. Coordinator: Debbie Hoover.

On SPONSOR ROW, festivalgoers can say, “Hello,” to businessowners who have helped fund MSF and can learn about their businesses. Financial sponsors for 2023 will set up on Church Street; these sponsors allow MSF to host a free festival. Coordinators: Keegan Mumaw, Casey Mosbarger, Emily Garay.

Off Church Street, ARTIST ALLEY is a juried art exhibit that showcases some of the Tennessee Valley’s best artists, specializing in fine arts. Stroll through an amazing display of high-quality, award-winning original works. Artists enjoy explaining their techniques as shoppers find that perfect design to take home. Also in Artist Alley, Madison Arts Alliance will offer a fun interactive art exhibit. Coordinators: Amber Keyes, Debbie Overcash.

The STUDENT ART AREA highlights creations by students from community schools. Also staged in Art-

32 Madison Living

ist Alley’s area, the work of these brilliant young artists promises to impress the viewing audience. Coordinator: Deborah Burke.

CRAFTERS COVE, located on the corner of Church and Maple streets, features unique, handmade items that embody the craftsperson’s creativity and skill. Here visitors will find everything from hair bows, children’s clothing, dolls, wreaths, jewelry, wooden pallet designs, yard art, ceramics, cigar-box guitars, dog clothing and collars, candles, wooden toys, hand-painted objects and knitted/crocheted pieces. Coordinators: Susan and Dave Bailey, Brenda Parker.

The BUSINESS SHOWCASE down Front Street assembles companies and organizations (for-profit and non-profit) to show what they’re all about, McBrayer said. This area helps businesses and organizations explain their diverse products and services. From health and wellness, insurance, pet services, performing arts, civic and community groups, nature and wildlife . . . to name a few. Coordinator: Megan Moore.

An impressive 31 FOOD vendors will serve some of the South’s best choices. Barbecue, Greek, hot dogs, hamburgers, comfort food, tamales, tacos, funnel cakes, ice cream, shaved ice, Philly cheese steak, vegan options, popcorn, cookies and cakes, specialty coffee and lemon-

34 Madison Living

ade . . . MSF has your taste buds covered. On Main Street and throughout the festival, vendors and food trucks will be cooking up tasty treats for the whole family. We promise every tummy will leave happy, McBrayer said. Coordinators: Rebecca Franz and Kathy Morris.

INTERACT ZONE features everything for children and teens. Off Maple Street by Fellowship of Faith Church, the zone is crammed full of interactive booths. The Children’s Area provides free arts, crafts, games and entertainment. The Teen Area hosts interactive stations visual and handson, ‘easy’ exhibits to learn to play chess, check out robotics, try STEM activities and more. Coordinators: Hallie Kenny -Children’s Area. Melissa Cain, Ashley Sewell, Melissa Patch – Teen Area.

MIDTOWN MADISON will be the destination to visit with Madison’s Mayor, council members, public works employees or city engineers, along with police officers and firefighters. Don’t miss their booths at Church and Front streets’ intersection. Ask questions, and check out their materials. Coordinators: Gina Romine, Jenny Spain.

LifeSouth will attend for the second annual ELBERT BALCH MEMORIAL BLOOD DRIVE. Balch was a longtime MSF supporter, and blood donations will respect his memory. Bloodmobiles will park at Animal Trax on Church Street.

COMMUNITY SHOWCASE STAGE on Main Street hosts performing art groups. The audience can enjoy many types of entertainment from martial arts, belly dancers, baton twirlers, quartets and much more. Coordinator: Cheri Volkin.

At the ENTERTAINMENT STAGE off Church Street, “Come here to put your hands together, stomp your feet, dance or just sit back and hum along to the live music,” McBrayer said. “This stage will bring some of the best local talents to please crowds throughout the day.” The Entertainment Stage also is Opening Ceremonies’ venue. Coordinator: Beth Heflin.

Stop by the MSF INFORMATION trailer in the parking lot for Animal Trax/The Glass Company. An MSF volunteer can answer questions about the festival, charge a cell phone or find a location within the festival. Coordinator: Erica DeSpain.

At Captain Jesse Ollie Wikle Jr. Veterans Memorial Park, a special flag raising will launch the festival after MSF Opening Ceremonies. Madison American Legion, Post 229 will decorate the park in patriotic colors, and Legionnaires will host a fun, interactive exhibit. Stop by the park at the corner of Church and Front streets.

At the Round House, Madison Station Quilters will demonstrate their skills and show their works of art. Visit

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them in the Village Green off Front Street to learn about quilting and admire their beautiful creations.

For the 2023 festival, Madison City Community Orchestra will fill the Madison Gazebo with classical music and pop sounds for the crowds to enjoy.

“If you see youth walking around with a press pass taking action shots, give them a High Five and tell them ‘great job,’” McBrayer said. “In 2022, we implemented a program with local high schools’ photography students. They help Madison Street Festival capture magical moments of the day!”

Visitors can ride to the festival in free SHUTTLE SERVICE buses from CrossPointe Church and Madison City Schools Stadium. Assisted-ride buses also will run. Another option is for visitors to park at the stadium and walk a short distance to MSF’s entrance on Wise Street.

NOTE: The CrossPointe Church shuttle will reroute to a different drop-off location at the festival from 8:45 to 10:00 a.m. Visitors should go to the Maple Street Shuttle stop to return to CrossPointe Church, if you ride this shuttle during this time. Transportation Coordinator: Spencer Mahoney.

“Not only does MSF create a free-to-the-commu-

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nity event with the help of our amazing financial sponsors, but our heart as an organization is giving money back to the community after the event with our GRANTS to educational programs,” McBrayer said. MSF encourages anyone involved with schooling to apply for a grant. The grant period runs from September 1 through October 31. To apply, visit Coordinators Keegan Mumaw, Stephanie Cravens, Alicia Winkle.

MSF always needs volunteers to help with set up, tear down and throughout the day. Anyone interested in helping to create the magic that day can register at Coordinators: Cathy Larsen, Sarah Potter, Charity Stratton.

“The MSF organization is beyond grateful for the support that our community has shown for our 41st festival. We cannot wait to see everyone enjoying all that we have planned for the day,” McBrayer said.

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A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes of the Madison Street Festival to pull off the successful event each year

The Madison Street Festival Committee is comprised of several volunteers who work year-around to ensure each festival is the best. Photo by Captured by Cristie Clark (Cristie Media Company)

IIf you have lived in Madison or North Alabama for any amount of time you probably know the Madison Street Festival quite well, but do you know the people behind the festival?

The festival has made a name for itself as a premier fall event in the South, and a committee of dozens of hardworking volunteers has made that possible for over forty years.

Crystal McBrayer, the president of the Madison Street Festival, heads a committee of forty-three volunteers that work year-round to put the festival together and execute its charitable mission.

“We start meeting at the beginning of the year, and we work twelve months out of the year on different aspects of the organization,” McBrayer says. “So, when we take a little break around the holiday time, we come back at the beginning of the year and we focus on distributing the grants that we were able to award from the last festival. So then, that works and from that point on it’s the behind-the-scenes kind of thing, making sure our registration procedures and

policies are in place.”

As McBrayer described, planning for the next year begins almost as soon as the festival ends. The army of volunteers hit the ground running in January with plans for that year’s festival. The first months of the year are filled with acquiring sponsorships and setting up vendor registration. The last two months before the festival are dedicated to mapping out the more than ten different sections and the vendor line-up and working out the logistics of transportation and supplies ahead of time.

Things start picking up even more the week of the festival as volunteers sometimes pull off thirteen or fourteen hour days to coordinate the process and traffic of set-up and loading of supplies in downtown. A generous, local sponsor cares for the hard-working volunteers and vendors the week of by supplying food, and the Madison City Public Works and Police Departments pitch in, as well, to support traffic and logistics for a smooth and safe festival day for volunteers, vendors, and attendees alike.

All in all, the festival requires the generosity, enthusiasm,

40 Madison Living
It takes a huge team of volunteers to keep the festival organized and running smooth on the first Saturday in October.

and time of so many people, or as McBrayer put it, “It’s really quite a juggernaut with a lot of puzzle pieces but when the puzzle pieces are put together, it really is quite beautiful.”

This year is the festival’s forty-first year. It is the second festival since coming back from the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s expected to be bigger and better than ever.

“We’ve got a strong committee this year. This festival this year probably has ten to fifteen percent more participants than we’ve ever had. It will be the biggest festival we’ve ever had,” McBrayer predicted, and based on the vendor registration filling up forty percent of each section’s capacity within only the first week of registration, her prediction is looking spot on.

The festival has twenty-eight sponsors this year and twohundred eighty-six participating vendors. All the hard work of the volunteers and vendors ultimately benefits Madison education programs. The non-profit aspect of the festival was founded specifically to raise money for Madison City Schools. Today, it continues to benefit Madison City Schools but has expanded to include a variety of educational pro-

grams throughout the city.

“The reason the non-profit even was brought for the Madison Street Festival and implemented within the organization was to support Madison City Schools. That was the only reason and that was the goal twenty years ago was to create a non-profit where we could give grant money back to Madison City Schools. Now, here we are fast forward to 2023, and our main focus still is a big part of the Madison school system. Fourteen out of the sixteen grants we gave away last year went to Madison City Schools but we have expanded our reach to the community. So, we have opened it up to other educational programs,” McBrayer explains. “Then we sit down and we read every one of the applications and we see where we can make the biggest impact with the money that we have.”

The festival committee accepts grant applications from qualifying groups from September 1 until October 31. Last year, the committee was able to donate $9,000 to sixteen different programs. The committee spends November reviewing the grant applications and then officially presents

Madison Living 41
The Madison Street Festival Board of Directors include: Crystal McBrayer, President, Tommy Overcash, Logistics Director, Kathy Morris, Treasurer, and Amber Keyes, Secretary.

the awardees with their grants at a city council meeting in January.

In recent years, the festival has gone even beyond grants to incorporate the local schools and offer students opportunities to grow and use their skills. For example, the festival hosted a photography club for student photographers to practice their photo-snapping skills as official press during the event. It also invited the James Clemens lacrosse team to host a water fundraiser, established a student art tent to display the work of local students, and welcomes groups from Madison schools every year to march in the parade.

“We’re always trying to find ways to engage and whether in its education, [like] photography, or fundraising, which is what the festival really is and also with the water fundraising or art and showcasing students,” McBrayer stated.

October, November, and December are also filled with reviews of that year’s festival, highlighting the aspects that went well and looking for ways to improve.

McBrayer calls the whole festival experience “a full-circle kind of thing.”

“It’s really cool because it really is a full-circle kind of thing,” she says. “The community rallies for us every year and supports us and pours into us whether it’s through sponsorship or vendors or participants that are spending

thousands of dollars in activities to do over in the children’s area. They’re supporting us and they’re loving us and then we’re able to create this event for people to come and experience all of that.”

The festival is a year-round commitment for committee volunteers, but the joy and passion they have for the festival and its charitable mission makes it all worthwhile.

“They are the ones that are creating the magic.” McBrayer says of the forty-three committee volunteers. “They are the ones that are really making it amazing and they work so hard and so passionately and they give so much of their time.”

McBrayer herself has dedicated time and energy in some way to the Madison Street Festival for a total of fifteen years, first as a vendor, later as a committee volunteer, and today as president.

McBrayer described the dedication and generosity of the volunteers, “The community just can’t grasp what they give to make this happen every year, and I’m so proud to be associated with them and to be surrounded by them and to do work with them because they’re just amazing.”

This year’s Madison Street Festival will take place Saturday, October 7. You can follow along with the festival at and on Facebook and Instagram @madisonstreetfestival.

42 Madison Living
Volunteer Team: Charity Stratton, Cathy Larsen, Sarah Potter Hospitality: Beth Mumaw, Faye Wishik (not pictured Tuyet Clark) The following are MSF committee members and the subcommittees they are assigned.
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Logistics: Tommy Overcash, Cameron Overcash, Warren Munster (not pictured Michael McBrayer, John Morris Mike Gentle) Artist Alley: Amber Keyes, Debbie Overcash Childrens: Noelle Apel, Hallie Kenny City Council Liaison: Karen Denzine Community Showcase: Cheri Volkin Entertainment: Beth Heflin
44 Madison Living
Crafters Cove: Susan and Dave Bailey Food: Rebecca Franz, Kathy Morris Information: Erica DeSpain Student Art Tent: Deborah Burke Traffic/Transportation: Spencer Mahoney Public Works: Chad Self, Cory Wilson Registration: Kathy Morris, Krista Csontos Teen: Melissa Patch, Meissa Cain



Madison man has been making a 90-minute trip every morning for nearly a decade to share his passion for music

AAt 5:00 a.m. each weekday morning when the darkness still looms about before the sun takes its place in the eastern horizon of Madison, the cell phone of Monroe Murray begins blasting his alarm music tone of the 1977 hit song by the Commodores titled Brick House. The classic soul/ dance tune is upbeat, exciting and is a perfect start to the daily journey for the 53-year-old Murray who travels 86 miles, doorstep-to-doorstep to his job in South Pittsburgh, Tenn.

The 90-minute, one-way, trip on U.S. Highway 72 leads Murray to his job as Band Director for South Pittsburgh High School, constructed in 1924 on the 700 block of Elm Avenue, which is the home to 327 students with 52 of those joining the school’s marching band.

“There have not been any positions available in Madison, thus I stay in Tennessee,” said Murray, who has made the work travels since 2014. “The kids in our small school are starved for arts enrichment as they call me dad. I can’t leave them. They have become ‘my kids.’ I teach two classes of general musical instruments, one class of theatre

arts and two more classes for the high school and middle school academy band. Of course, all of that leads to my handling the marching band during the football season, which makes for a very long day on Fridays, but I love it.”

Born in Anniston, Ala., growing up near Fort McClellan and where his father played a lot of guitar, Murray cut his teeth on country music tuning in to superstar artists such as Porter Wagoner, Flatt & Scruggs, Statler Brothers, Hank Williams, Roy Clark and Buck Owens. He actually had a different way of introduction to other types of music through the old RCA Record Club. His father ordered the wrong 8-Track from the club and when the new purchase arrived the family was surprised to see the music was of the soul/funk group Rufus featuring Chaka Khan. Murray also said he came across his older brother’s record collection many of which were the music of The Beatles.

Murray started in band while in the fifth grade and the next year joined the school’s marching band playing the saxophone, trombone and tuba. By his three years of high school he was playing strictly the tuba in the matching

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band, but still played the saxophone in competitions where for three years running was named All-State as a sax player. “I first auditioned for All-State as a ninth grader and that spark lit me to excel next year,” said Murray.

After he completed high school, Murray attended the University of North Alabama in Florence where he was a member of the University’s marching band and earned both his Bachelor’s in music education and a Master’s in education. He graduated in 1994, but before exiting college he was a two-year member of the Drum and Bugle Corps of Rockford, Ill. In the renowned Phantom Regiment, he placed third in the world and indulged in marching contests for several years. He also played “gigs,” as he called them, in numerous musicals. His first taste of the stage was at Gadsden State where he played in “Grease.”

His musical talents actually led him in January 1995 to a four-year stint in the United State Marine Corps where much of his time was spent on Parris Island, South Carolina. He was a sax player for the Corps’ band and left the military with the rank as Sergeant. Once leaving his military service Murray was on his way to teaching young

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students his passion for music.

“I want to build the love of music for the kids as I believe music gives them some sort of escape from everyday life,” said Murray.

Murray and his wife, Nichole, celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary in August. She is an English teacher at Bob Jones and they have three children, all boys, ages 26, 22 and 16, all of whom have indulged their lives to being percussionists in music.

His resume of schools for his passion for teaching began in 1998 in Collinwood, Tenn. He then made stops at Phil Campbell, Falkville, Wilson, Wayne County, Tenn. and Discovery Middle School before taking his current position at South Pittsburg in 2014.

Each school day he arises before the sun rises, hops in his 2000 Chevy Silverado and makes his trek towards the rising sun through communities such as Gurley, Scottsboro, Hollywood, Stevenson and Bridgeport before crossing the Tennessee State line in South Pittsburg, located just 30 miles from Chattanooga between the Cumberland Plateau and the Tennessee River. Located in Marion County, the South Pittsburg community is visibly known for the Shelby Reinhart Bridge, a steel arch structure that spans 1,514 feet across the Tennessee River connecting to

nearby town of New Hope. The famous structure was built in 1981. Highway 72 runs north and south through the middle of town and is renamed Cedar Avenue.

South Pittsburg is also the home to the National Cornbread Festival held each April. Earlier this year for the first time in its history, the huge three-day event, visited by thousands each year, featured a jazz band. “Our school jazz band played at the Festival and that was exciting for our students,” said Murray.

As customary, Murray’s marching band has the honor of playing at each of the schools’ football games. He said that duty makes for a long day for him, but he relishes in his efforts to make for an excellent performance and teaching his “kids” the art of playing music. Upon finishing his work on Friday nights, he travels back home and tunes his radio to WLRH-FM and listens to the classic, live music show titled Reelin’ In The Years. Matter of fact, his radio is tuned to NPR most of the time as he catches up on the latest news and community happenings to and from work. On occasions, he’ll tune into various podcasts.

“I really don’t get tired of traveling,” said Murray, as he stated his truck has logged over 300,000 miles. “On a bad day I have 90 minutes to drive home and unwind and lose that day’s experiences. To me, I have 90 minutes of me time.”

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Each morning he packs his bags, jumps in his truck and heads on down the highway where, when he arrives at the home of the Pirates and its rich tradition of state championships in multiple sports, will text his wife some sort of romantic greeting or what he calls “love notes.”

His daily school classes feature music in an unusual way. He has set his phone alarm to go off to begin each of his five classes with different music. For his first class the phone is set to play Hooked On A Feeling, a 1974 hit by Blue Swede, a Swedish rock group in the 70’s. Second class gets the music from TV’s Flintstones, third class is presented with the music of the cartoon series Scooby Doo. His fourth class changes every year as it’s geared to the band class he teaches, and this year C Jam Blues, composed over 80 years ago by Duke Ellington, blares from his phone to begin the class. “For my fifth class I have just your standard siren alarm,” added Murray.

Besides his enormous passion for music, Murray also

delves into being an auto mechanic and tinkers with cars when he can.

In a bizarre incident last fall, Murray suffered an unusual injury while playing his trombone with his band students. He said, “I was demonstrating how to play the instrument when I felt something snap in my mouth. I found out a ligament on my lower gum had snapped. My dentist told me I need reconstructive surgery and I may undergo the procedure next year.”

Murray is a man of many miles and experiences. His love for music and his passion for his students is unmatched as he sacrifices a minimum of three hours out of his day fulfilling his dream to teach others how to respect music and grow with music. His fervor for musical notes to enrich a person’s life is wide-ranging as he dwells into a love of a mixture of music genres that covers the spectrum of the sounds that make up music. For Murray, it all begins with thunderous notes from Brick House.

Madison Living 49

II received a text recently from a young man named Willie who I consider one of my kids. Willie lived in foster care and became homeless before connecting with Kids to Love. He enrolled in KTECH, our workforce training initiative, and while it wasn’t a walk in the park, he persevered and has worked his way into a career that he enjoys and that pays well. Willie’s text to me said, “From homeless to a half-million home owner.” I’m so proud of him!

KTECH was created to connect foster youth to careers and to keep them out of prison. The need for skilled workforce is so great that

KTECH is not exclusive to foster teens. It’s the one program Kids to Love offers that is open to anyone who wants to learn a skill set in the advanced manufacturing industry. Our newest and largest class just started and we can’t wait to see how each student’s life will change over the next 16 weeks!

In six years, KTECH has awarded more than 300 certifications in Mechatronics, Virtual Reality, Robotics and Soldering. The deadlines to enroll for each course vary but you can find all the information at and We would love to show you the KTECH difference!

50 Madison Living
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Hertzler-Vaughn House blends rich history with options for leisure


AA random shopping trip led the late Joyce Davis Vaughn and Dennis Vaughn to purchase their dream home on Front Street in downtown Madison.

While living in southeast Huntsville from 1967 to 1973, the Vaughns searched for historical homes in Huntsville’s Twickenham neighborhood. However, they postponed their search when the U.S. Department of Army selected Dennis to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT to earn his master’s degree.

“When we returned to Huntsville in 1976, the price of historical homes in Twickenham had escalated out of our price ‘comfort zone,’” Dennis said. They remained in southeast Huntsville until 1983.

That’s when Joyce was shopping at Barbara’s Dress Shop on Main Street in Madison while waiting for Dennis’ flight from Europe on Army business. En route to the airport, Joyce noticed a “For Sale” sign at 25 Front Street.

“We bought the house the next week,” Dennis said.

This home was built in 1887 by Frank Hertzler when he married Marietta Sullivan, daughter of Dr. George Sullivan, the namesake of Sullivan Street in Madison. Born in Ohio on Dec. 24, 1858, Frank eventually owned

300-plus acres in Madison County that became part of Redstone Arsenal in the 1940s. Frank’s father, Dr. John Hertzler, moved to Madison from Ohio after the Civil War.

From 1868 to 1891, Sullivan lived at 23 Front Street, probably influencing Frank’s purchase of the lot adjacent to his fiance’s home, Madison historian John Rankin said.

While living in Madison, Frank had begun to accumulate wealth in general mercantile partnerships with Madison merchants George Washington Wise, brother Daniel Hertzler and brother-in-law Matthew Harvey Anderson. Frank later sold those interests and moved to Athens.

In Limestone County, Frank entered a farming partnership with Harvey. Retiring from farming, Frank lived in Huntsville at 509 Franklin Street until his death in 1944. He and Marietta, who outlived Frank six years, are buried in Athens. They were parents of four children.

A love for historical homes came naturally for Joyce, who grew up in the small Kentucky town of Hardyville, Kentucky. “Joyce’s dad ran the local grocery store. Her

Madison Living 53

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mother ran the post office. Joyce as a child during the summer would visit and often have lunch with neighbors . . . some who lived in older historical homes full of antiques,” Dennis said.

In eighth grade, Joyce and Dennis met when he transferred to her school to play basketball. Dennis lived on a dairy and tobacco farm near Uno.

They were classmates and dated during high school, and Joyce was a member of the band and cheerleading squad. After graduation and one year of attending different colleges, they married and resided in Cookeville, Tennessee, where Dennis pursued his basketball scholarship and an engineering degree.

Their two-story house at 25 Front Street has Victorian architecture with 4,200 square feet. Downstairs has six rooms: master bedroom and bath/laundry, living, dining, kitchen, family/TV/sitting and the new recreation/ den room. Other features are an expanded rear porch, large front/back entrance foyers and walk-in closet.

Also downstairs, five separate rooms have bay windows and four working fireplaces with one for the kitchen’s woodburning cook stove and the front foyer’s whole-house woodburning heating stove (now in storage). Today, heating and cooling rely on two downstairs/upstairs heat pumps/AC units.

The house’s lot was purchased from Madison’s found-

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er James Clemens by Thomas Clay, acting as trustee for his wife and children. Historical society publications state that Frank constructed his house in 1905, but he may have lived in an earlier dwelling before 1900. In the 1900 census, Frank is listed among families who lived along Front Street.

Frank and Dr. John Hertzler both owned farms on today’s Redstone Arsenal. Frank also owned a store on Main Street and invested in real estate in partnership with brother-in-law Matthew Harvey Anderson. John Hertzler likewise owned a large house on Church Street, another spacious house on arsenal land and a unique barn that grabbed widespread attention, Rankin said.

Historical society publications also state that “the Collier family” later lived in the house, and the Colliers sold it to Frank and Annie Mae (Bronaugh) Finney in the 1930s.

Throughout the original house, hardwood floors are heart of pine. The kitchen’s new floor has wide planks salvaged from old, heart-of-pine beams found in Pennsylvania.

The spacious upstairs contains four bedrooms, an office, two bathrooms, storage room, hallway with stairs from front foyer and two large walk-in closets. The master bedroom includes a rear stairway from the adjoining office, which leads to the downstairs kitchen. This layout

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“permits travel between upstairs master bedroom and kitchen while avoiding use of common front stairway,” Dennis said.

The exterior lapboard is wood siding, painted grey with red trim and slight yellow accent. A wraparound porch adds appeal to the home. The Vaughns enclosed a similar back porch to add a den/recreation/TV/game room and larger bathroom. “The rear view of the home expansion was built to be consistent with existing 1905 construction and appearance,” Dennis said.

Antiques and sentimental hand-me-downs, like various tables and chairs, accent the home. One cane-bottom chair is “allegedly” from Danial Boone, who gave it as a wedding present to his sister. Boone’s sister married into Dennis Vaughn’s family tree, making her related to Daniel’s father (Squire Boone).

The Vaughns purchased other antiques, including the rec room’s 1950s jukebox and pool table, a favorite of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “The grandchildren get their picture posted on the slot machine if they hit the grand jackpot. A few have achieved this milestone,” Dennis said.

Dennis bought the antique slot machine because Joyce enjoyed playing when they visited U.S. and European casinos. At the world-famous Monaco Casino, Joyce played quite well.

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The most popular room and hang-outs for family, guests and senior citizens is the kitchen with its island and comfortable chairs, wood cookstove and wall-shelf antiques. The younger crowd with children, their children and friends, gravitate to the pool table, jukebox and slot machine.

In addition, younger relatives and friends love swimming, ping pong, bumper pool, foosball, air hockey, punching bag, basketball hoops machine and baseball action game.

In his 1.5-acre backyard, Dennis has taught grandchildren and numerous friends to ride motorcycles and gocarts/dune buggies. He built a wooden ramp for motorcycle tricks.

Built circa 1850, a two-room red building with a shed is in back. Story has it that the maid and cook for previous owners, the Finneys, lived there into the 1950s. The Vaughns moved it ‘rearward’ from the main house during addition of two-story rooms and three-car garage.

The building retains some original siding, installed with handout square nails (before machines produced round nails). Dennis used square-cut horseshoe nails during installation and repair to preserve its antiquity.

Joyce retired as City Personnel Director in Madison. She held the position during an exceptional 20-year growth

58 Madison Living
Madison Living 59
The house at 25 Front Street in an old postcard (above) and in the 1950s (below). Photos courtesy of John Rankin

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Dennis retired from government civil service on Redstone Arsenal. For 12 years, he was Chief Civilian (Deputy Project Manager) with the Project Office for International Multiple Launch Rocket System or MLRS (renamed STORM).

“I’m most proud this MLRS project included management for design, prototype, development, fielding and sustainment of the MLRS family of programs/systems, including HIMARS and GMLRS . . . which have been a game changer in recent news from Ukraine,” he said.

“My hobby must still be work,” Dennis said. He continues to work as System Engineering Technical Support contractor for a Huntsville engineering support contractor (S3 Inc.). He provides senior program management and subject-matter expertise to Army offices.

Dennis is a charter and continuing member of Madison Station Historical Preservation Society and member of Madison Municipal Cemeteries Committee and numerous Army/civilian groups, including AAAA, CoC, Field Artillery Association, HAMA, HASBAT and ASMDA. He graciously allows Madison Street Festival to use his front/back yard for vendor exhibits.

60 Madison Living

Main Street Cafe celebrates reopening after fire damages popular historic restaurant

RRebounding from a June 29 fire to the building’s west side, Main Street Cafe in downtown Madison reopened on Aug. 16, which is good news for the restaurant’s loyal following of guests.

The well-prepared savory and sweet foods on the menu have not changed, Tammy Hall said. Tammy and John Hall own Main Street Cafe.

“The fire destroyed our outside storage area and our dry storage area (StoStorage) located at the back of the kitchen. Because smoke entered the kitchen, we had to go through a full recovery process removing all plastics and contaminated materials,” Tammy said.

In addition, the building at 101 Main St. lost electricity, which led to losing all food products in the Halls’

cooler and freezer. Fortunately, the fire caused minimal damage to the kitchen and almost no damage to the dining room.

“For the time being, we will use the jail cells as storage. (Madison City Hall, complete with two jail cells for offenders, formerly occupied this building.) That will unfortunately limit our seating capacity,” Tammy said. “We should be getting a temperature-controlled storage unit soon. We will store all that product there once it becomes available.”

The cause of the fire “was cigarette ashes that were discarded onto cardboard that was broken down outside,” Tammy said.

Cafe employees and first responders reacted quickly

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The Madison Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony for Main Street Cafe on August 16.

to deal with the fire. “Carlton, Kerry and Tim all made an attempt to control the fire until the fire department could come. (The fire’s strength) was more than any amount of extinguishers could handle,” Tammy said.

“My servers Janice, September, Megan and Kirstin made sure to evacuate everyone from the dining area to across the street. Special thanks to North Alabama Gas Company for quickly turning off the gas that day and to the Madison Fire Department for arriving so quickly and getting the fire under control,” Tammy said.

Servpro discarded all the contaminated materials. Graham Construction upgraded the electrical system, replaced ceiling tiles, painted the walk-in cooler and freezer, upgraded the hot water heater and gas lines and demolished the storage area that was burned. Mark Harbin with Continental Roofing will finish work on the roof.

After the danger was over, employees had to face the loss of their jobs (during months of repairs). “Thankfully, we were able to compensate them while we have gone through this process,” Tammy said. “Some did some temporary work. They are all good workers. We are blessed to have them. They have all been a great help getting the restaurant ready to reopen.”

The menu at Main Street Cafe remains the same. All the entrees, salads, desserts and other orders will be available to guests.

Tammy and John Hall had “no doubts at all” to reopen the cafe. “This was the first time we’ve been through something like this. My husband John handled the insurance, Servpro and construction. I handled product replacement and scheduling, once we could return to the restaurant,” Tammy said.

During ‘time off’ from Main Street Cafe, the Halls were thankful to have their other business, Lanier House Tea Room, at 20 Martin St. in downtown Madison. “I have spent time trying to make sure it can run smoothly. I have a fantastic staff there. They will take care of it while I have to shift back to Main Street,” Tammy said.

For more information, call 256-461-8096 or visit or Facebook/Main Street Cafe.

About Main Street Cafe

Housed inside Madison’s 3rd City Hall (circa 1955), guests at Main Street Cafe enjoy an eclectic blend of Southern Comfort food coupled with an ever-changing list of daily specials sure to tame even the toughest of appetites. You can have lunch or dinner in jail...without having to break any laws! How amazing is that? One of the most popular lunch orders is Poulet de Normandie, a hearty dressing casserole of stuffing, chicken, celery, mayo, mushroom sauce, and cheese. “It’s that dish people see walking by and ask, ‘What is that?’ It’s comfort food 101,” Tammy said. They also offer other lunch entrees, such as Tilapia with Mango Salsa, Stuffed Roasted Porkloin and Poppyseed Chicken Casserole.

64 Madison Living 101MainStreet,Madison 256-461-8096forreservations LunchMonday-Saturday11am-2pm Dinnerstartingat5:00pm Wednesday-Saturday CasualDining inMadison’s HistoricDistrict 559164-1 WeHaveRe-Opened!

Lanier House Tea Room

20 Martin Street - downtown Madison

Any day is a special day when you plan a visit to the Lanier House Madison, located at 20 Martin Street in the historic district of Downtown Madison. It is a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or make an ordinary day something extraordinary with your family and friends.

Owner Tammy Hall created this amazing tearoom after being inspired by similar places she would visit in her travels. She began to visit tearooms wherever she went, including Italy, and took a mental note of the things she liked. Those mental notes turned into the realization of her dream when in October 2022 the Lanier House opened.

“Our hope is to create a beautiful atmosphere open for anyone to join us for a lovely afternoon tea,” Hall said.

Served using eloquent China pieces, the tea flavors as well as the food offerings change monthly, allowing Hall to keep things fresh and new for customers.

The offering is afternoon tea which includes a tea pairing for a savory, a bread and a sweet tray. “The first tray is the heavier food, so you want a heavy tea to go with it. The second is usually a light tea, such as a herbal tea, and then with the sweets we usually go with a light black tea,” Hall said.

The Lanier House is also be available for private venue bookings.

To view the menu and to make reservations, go to www.


Tellini’s Italiano

1515 Perimeter Parkway off University in Huntsville

Tellini’s Italiano has long been a greater Huntsville institution, serving fresh, homestyle Italian food to Madison County for 25 years. “We provide made-from-scratch Italian food in a relaxed, fast-casual setting,” said owner and operator Allen Mello.

The inviting ambiance of the restaurant itself pairs nicely with its food that has a fresh, home-cooked taste. Their beloved pasta dishes wrap the taste buds in a comforting hug with aromatic herbs like basil and oregano, tangy tomato, and the sharp notes of garlic.

The baked pastas are the stars of Tellini’s menu. They have consistently been the most popular items on the menu, though Mello says the chicken alfredo is quickly becoming a new customer favorite. Mello’s own favorite recommendation is the steak tetrazzini. Their breadsticks are also famous in their own right, and according to Mello, many claim them to be superior to Olive Garden’s breadsticks.

Mello describes the great lengths he and the staff go to provide fresh, house-made ingredients and dishes. “We make all our sauces from scratch. We chop our lettuce. Our cheesecakes are homemade.” They make efforts as well to utilize local suppliers for their ingredients.

For more information about Tellini’s, go to They are located at Perimeter Parkway in Huntsville.

Salt Factory Pub

6000 Stax Street NW - MidCity District in Huntsville

Salt Factory Pub, in the MidCity District, is an upscale gastropub that offers modern and approachable cuisine with an unbeatable beer list. The creative menu features a variety of classic comfort foods with international influences.

The dishes at Salt Factory Pub are comprised of local and organic ingredients designed to complement the notable beer line-up of more than 50 different draft and bottled brews.

Modeled after the pubs of the English countryside, Salt Factories are known for their enticing interior designs with exposed brick walls, dark hardwood floors, cozy tufted booths, and custom dim lighting. The energy of the setting and service creates an upscale, cozy “neighborhood” experience, fun and vibrant, yet familiar at the same time.

A look through their menu certainly has my mouth watering. Short-Smoked Salmon Tostadas are a delicious starter. Perfectly layered with charred corn pico, radishes, cilantro, and chipotle lime crema. Then it’s on to a wide selection of entrees, like their 12oz New York Strip and Filet Mignon Medallions – both served with sautéed green beans and garlic mashed potatoes.

Salt Factory Pub also has a delicious choice of brunch and lunch offerings. To see what they have, simply go to

66 Madison Living 559192-1 1515PerimeterParkway,Huntsville,AL 256-726-9006• Sun-Thurs10:30-9:00•Fri&Sat10:30-10:00•DiningRoomclosesat8PM! DINE-IN•CARRY-OUT•DRIVE-THRU•CATERING BakedZiti KID’SMEAL $7.99 $1.50Off HALFPRICE WithDrinkPurchase WithDrinkPurchase WithAdultEntreePurchase Baked ShrimpAlfredo $1.00Off PIZZA Withthisad.Onecouponpercustomer.Nottobe combinedwithanyotheroffer/discount. Expires05/31/2024 Withthisad.Onecouponpercustomer.Nottobe combinedwithanyotheroffer/discount. Expires05/31/2024 Withthisad.Onecouponpercustomer.Nottobe combinedwithanyotheroffer/discount. Expires05/31/2024 Withthisad.Onecouponpercustomer.Nottobe combinedwithanyotheroffer/discount. Expires05/31/2024
Madison Living 67 SHOPPING Check out the Cecilia envelope purse at Holtz Leather Co. You can find the perfect 5 5 9 1 5 21 Diam nd Howto Picka Party Antique|Estate|CustomDesign In-storeJewelryRepair,WatchRepair,andAppraisals 2314MemorialParkwayS,Huntsville•256-536-3321 FINEJEWELRY Decatur Shopping Center 1524 6 th Ave SE, Decatur • 25 6 - 3 5 3 -1416 Hour s: Monday- Sa turday 10A M - 6 PM • Follow us on Large Selection of Women’s, Men’s and Children’s Designer and Athletic Shoes at Discount Prices 5 5 9 1 7 51 Everything you will need to decorate your home can be found at Noble Passage Interiors Check out this antique Art Deco era (1930s) ring with over half a carat of blazing white natural diamonds at Meyer and Lee
68 Madison Living
There’s nothing “short” about The Short Story handbag. We love the clean lines, attention to detail and versatility of these beautiful bags at Queen Bee of Beverly Hills ••• 110MainStreet•Madison 559138-1 ••• MonthlySales 15%OFF September:Desks There are some beautiful and unique pieces at Meyer and Lee
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Large selection of antique tools at Madison Station Antiques
There are
at Noble Passage Check out this Maria Fine Leather Tote Bag at Holtz Leather Co.

Need throw pillows? They have them at Noble Passage.

There are many “treasures” at Madison

If you are looking for that perfect crossbody bag that can go anywhere, look no further than Queen Bee of Beverly Hills

Madison Living 69 YourLocalExpertinFineFurniture DesignAccessories,UniqueClothing,Jewelry,&More 20 4 M a in S t re e t • M a dis o n, A L 3575 8 • 256 -325 -1919 • T ue sday - F riday 10 - 5; Sat ur day 10 - 4 559166-1
The Whiskey Barrel Checkers/ Chess Table is made out of a Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrel head - Holtz Leather Co. Check out these antique walking canes at Madison Station Antiques Station Antiques
70 Madison Living
a fabulous round cut natural
Check out what is new at Blue Ribbon Shoes There are many great furniture pieces at Noble Passage Q U E E N B E E O F B E V E R L Y H I L L S C O M 2326 Whitesburg Dr, Huntsville, AL 35801 256 213 7796 of DON’TLOVEIT? WE’LLBUYIT. 559137-1 The Levi Wallet comes in 2 styles, vertical and horizontal! - Holtz Leather Co. AL#22283 Changeyourair filterstoimprove indoorairquality andhelpyour systemrun efficiently. 256-455-3448 559189-1
Vintage 14K yellow gold dangle earrings adorned with
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Madison Living 71 GrowersofQualityPlantsSince1985 We’veGotMums! 559208-1 29877Hwy72W,Madison•256-232-4887 • Yeswedo… Check out the pottery pieces and stones at Reseda Nursery and Stone Yard It’s that time of year at Reseda Nursery and Stone Yard

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL - Madison City Schools (MCS) welcomed back students for the 2023-2024 school year last month. Buses rolled, drivers crept through dropoff zones and walkers strolled in for a new year of learning. MCS officials said there were a few of the typical glitches with things like class schedules and lunch account adjustments, but otherwise a great day. Here are a few fun photos from the first day of school. Check out these fun photos from the first day of school in Madison.

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Columbia Elementary School Madison Elementary School Journey Middle School Liberty Middle School Midtown Elementary School Madison Elementary School

Tootsie Roll Run to raise money for schools’ special education programs

TThe 6th Annual Tootsie Roll 5K is rolling through Madison City on Saturday, Nov. 4th.

Registration for runners and walkers is open for the event, which starts and ends at Madison City Stadium. Visit to join the fun or sign up.

The race is part of an effort by the Knights of Columbus (KofC) to raise funds for Madison Schools’ Special Education programs (SPED).

Over the years, these efforts have raised nearly $200,000 for software, specialized teaching tools and instructional material, learning aids, special sensory rooms, and more. Some of the funding needs for this year include a sensory

room for Rainbow Elementary, a portable “Nook” sensory room, and IPADs for both physical and occupational therapy student use.

Dr. Susan Zinkil, Director of Special Education for Madison City Schools, said the Tootsie Roll 5K holds a special place in her heart as she has seen directly how students with disabilities benefit. Additionally, it is heartwarming seeing MCS students and others volunteering or participating in the race.

What began here 30 years ago as a Tootsie Roll Drive outside storefronts has evolved into a 5K run/walk that made it a more community-wide event. The race was founded

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City Schools

Madison City Schools

in 2018 by Jerome Villarreal, the former grand knight of the KofC Council 10232 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. When the pandemic hit in 2020, businesses that allowed storefront collections by volunteers plummeted. The race has helped to offset this and raise awareness for helping people with intellectual disabilities.

Knights of Columbus councils 10232 at St. John the Baptist and 17519 at Most Merciful Jesus are the founders and chief organizers of the growing Tootsie Roll 5K. Helping people with disabilities is a hallmark focus of KofC chapters nationwide.

A quote from St. Pope Gregory the Great summarizes the objectives for the KofC Tootsie Roll 5K: “When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours.”

The run has come to symbolize both a fun activity for families and a serious one for hard core runners. Student cross country runners are encouraged to sign up under their school’s team name to promote friendly competition between schools.

The racecourse is certified by USA Track and Field. This year, the course direction will be reversed to eliminate the congestion that used to occur when runners transitioned from the road onto the sidewalk at Hughes Road.

Highlights from last year’s race include a visit by Sprocket from the Rocket City Trash Pandas. The race was also kicked off by the 2022 race ambassador, Hogan Brown, a senior student on the James Clemens cross-country team. Having an intellectual disability himself, Mr. Brown had undergone countless hours of therapies, such as speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, and applied behavioral therapy, through which he achieved substantial growth, development, and achievement.

To Tootsie Roll 5K participants, know that your involvement contributes to your local community. A special shoutout goes to past participants with hopes of continuing support.

Even if you don’t run or walk, consider a donation for the benefit of the Special Education program of Madison City Schools. Keeping this wonderful cause rolling year after year is what makes the Tootsie Roll 5K even that much sweeter.

74 Madison Living



Sandy Nola returns to her roots with a thriving yet peaceful garden

AAn afternoon daydream motivated Sandy Nola to explore her roots with a garden of luscious vegetables and brilliant flowers.

She grew up on a 30-acre farm in rural Lawrence County, Tennessee. The Amish community surrounded her family’s land.

Sandy’s childhood differed drastically from children’s lifestyles today . . . or even Sandy’s generation. “One of my earliest recollections is helping pick cotton. Perhaps it was memorable because, back then, schools closed for a week for kids to help harvest,” Sandy said.

Her family planted 28 acres of crops. “Our home and vegetable garden were on the remaining two acres,” Sandy said. “I was one of four children. It was expected we work, whether it was mowing, gardening or helping in the kitchen.”

“Mother taught me how to preserve fruits and vegetables by canning, freezing or drying. When I left home in Tennessee for college, I remember being thankful that I didn’t have to work in that garden anymore,” Sandy said. “It took me by surprise that later in life I found an appreciation and passion for gardening.”

Sandy and husband Charlie Nola built their house in downtown Madison in 1998. Sandy’s brother-in-law, Frank Nola, with Nola Van Peursem Architects designed their house to adhere to Madison’s historic district.

When Sandy and Charlie’s children, Mitchell and Rachel, were young, Sandy stayed home. With extra time available, Sandy began thinking about growing tomatoes.

“At first, (gardening) started small and not very productive,” Sandy said. Luckily, the Nolas’ neighbors -- Harold Hansen, Horace Hilliard and Orval Cooper – were experienced gardeners and shared their techniques with her.

“We would have a contest to see who got the first ripe tomato, prettiest, biggest. It was more than a garden. It provided comradery, some good-spirited heckling and, most importantly, bragging rights,” she said.

Sandy admits that her garden requires daily work. “However, if you enjoy a task, it’s not really work. I love being outside.”

“At the first of April, it’s time to take the plants outside for a few hours each day to acclimate,” she said. “My parents always said there’s no use in planting until it’s consistently 60 degrees at night.”

Madison Living 77

Starting with good soil is essential. Sandy adds compost to Alabama’s brick-hard, red-clay soil.

“I enjoy changing up a little every year. Sometimes it works out good, and other times not so much,” Sandy said.

Weeding is a garden’s most difficult demand. “Seeing weeds in the garden drives me nuts. It’s impossible to stay on top of weeds,” Sandy said. Her best defense is a highgrade landscape fabric, although squirrels nibble holes in the fabric.

Her time in the garden is limited because Sandy works full time as a bookkeeper at Nola Van Peursem Architects. Even with limited time, this year Sandy planted tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, crowder peas, okra, squash, zucchini, peppers and watermelons. These are easy to grow.

Because of expensive tomato plants in limited varieties, Sandy began experimenting with seeds. “You can almost feel the summer sun when it’s cold outside looking at seed catalogues,” she said. “(With) gardening as a hobby, you can choose from a vast selection of seeds or plants and, most of all, enjoy the reward of your work.”

A tomato’s use determines which variety to plant. For

a beautiful slice on a BLT, plant a variety with large fruit, like Mortgage Lifter. For spaghetti sauce, try a Roma variety. For salads, choose cherry tomatoes. For a mediumsized tomato with great taste, plant Celebrity.

“One of my favorites is Caspian Pink. I prefer pink tomatoes over red but always plant some of each,” Sandy said.

For several years, Sandy and Charlie have shipped tomatoes (multiple times) to relatives in Florida. “Florida tomatoes cannot compare to Alabama tomatoes. Over the years, I’ve increased the number of plants so I could share with neighbors and friends,” she said.

This summer, she has canned tomato juice, vegetable soup mix, green beans and peas, along with blackberry and grape juice for jelly. She gives these treasures as gifts year-round. “It’s rewarding to enjoy homemade vegetable soup on a cold winter day,” Sandy said.

The Nolas’ neighbors and good friends, Anne and Charles Erwin, gave seeds for apple-shaped gourds to Sandy. “It’s fun to watch it grow,” Sandy said. “Anne passed several years ago, but I always think of her when I see the gourds blooming and growing.”

“Flowers in the garden are not only beautiful; they also

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Madison Living 79

attract bees for pollination,” Sandy said. “Sunflowers attract yellow finches, which are amazing to watch. It’s hard to describe the feeling when you observe birds and other wildlife as they frolic and feed. Although it doesn’t make sense, it’s like a balance of calm and excitement.”

The Nolas’ garden has evolved into a family effort. “Since retiring from NASA, Charlie has been instrumental in garden preparation by laying landscape fabric and installing metal posts to attach wire panels for staking plants,” Sandy said.

“Our children have an appreciation of food from the garden since helping while living at home,” Sandy said. Their son Mitchell is working in Colorado as a CNC Operator. Daughter Rachel received her master’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham; currently, Rachel works on several UAB clinical trials in Birmingham.

“One of the greatest benefits (of outdoors) is quiet time -- away from hectic life and enjoying Mother Nature. This is my stress reliever -- pulling weeds, staking plants and picking whatever is ready,” Sandy said.

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“Celebrate Madison” shines the light on growth of the past, present and future of the city

TThe city of Madison and Madison Chamber of Commerce honored military families at “Celebrate Madison” August 17. The free community event was hosted by the Chamber at Toyota Field. It featured a variety of family activities, food, fun and fireworks.

According to Executive Director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce, Michelle Epling, “Celebrate Madison was born from Mayor Finley’s idea where the State of the City for Madison to include the entire community. Whether you’re a family of four, single, or just moved here, Celebrate Madison is a way for you to truly become invested in what’s happening, not only in the city today but to help you understand our past.”

The highlight of the night was Mayor Paul Finley’s State

of the City address where he recognized two local military families.

“The Madison community is built upon the regional military influence in our area. We thank our veterans, active duty service men and women, and the Gold Star families for their sacrifice. We also thank Signalink for their sponsorship of the Celebrate Madison event, making this recognition possible. It is an honor for these military families, who have lived in many cities across the world, to call Madison ‘home’,” says Mayor Paul Finley.

Active Duty Family of the Year:

The Active Duty Family of the Year was presented to COL Stacey Harring and her family. COL Stacey Harring

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Madison Living 83
Active Duty Family of the Year was presented to COL Stacey Harring and her family. They are pictured above with Signalink owners Steve and Alice Lessmann, who sponsored the recognitions. The Veteran Family of the Year recognized Retired Navy Commander Bob Tamas and his family. They are pictured above with Signalink owners Steve and Alice Lessmann.

has contributed countless volunteer hours to the children and veterans since moving to Madison 6 years ago. COL Harring serves in leadership positions with Madison American Legion Post 229 and volunteers with her local Girl Scout troop. She is currently a mobilized Reservist serving on Active Duty at Army Materiel Command on Red Stone Arsenal. Continuing to instill patriotism in our youth remains a passion of COL Harring as she serves and volunteers in the Madison community.

Veteran Family of the Year:

The Veteran Family of the Year recognized Retired Navy Commander Bob Tamas who served for over 20 years as a Navy F-14 Radar Intercept Officer. Bob currently serves as the Treasurer for the Society of St Vincent DePaul at St John the Baptist Catholic Church in Madison, visiting neighbors in the local communities to provide financial, moral and other support to those in need. His wife Donna volunteers as a Court Appointed Juvenile Advocate of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Bob and Donna’s son, Ryan currently works as a contractor for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Their young-

est son, LTJG Jack Tamas, USN graduated from the Naval Academy and is currently attending the Navy Nuclear Power School in Charleston, South Carolina.

State of the City Address

While the City of Madison’s motto, “Plant Your Roots”, invites newcomers to settle in and make their home in Madison, the city itself has been growing its own roots, as evidenced by the developments and infrastructure projects popping up across town.

These developments and more were the focus of Finley’s speech. The address showcased the progress of past and current developments, especially Town Madison, where Celebrate Madison was held and shed light on the achievements of the city overall.

“We have an incredible community,” Mayor Finley commended the city. “There’s so much opportunity for so many people.”

The Mayor reflected on the progress made over the last forty years and milestone progress like the introduction of a minor league baseball team to Madison, which he oversaw in his tenure as mayor.

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That baseball team, the Rocket City Trash Pandas, is just one of many new businesses that brought commerce to the once forested, undeveloped area that is now Town Madison. He revealed in his address that an eighth hotel, Marriott Townplace, and more restaurants, Chicken Salad Chick, Walk-Ons Sports Bar, and Steam Boys Chinese Comfort Food will soon be adding to Town Madison’s lineup.

Commercial development is not the only thing growth has brought to Madison, but growth has also brought expanded recreation projects. The former Hexagon property will be transformed into a recreation center and Fire Station 4. Sunshine Oaks is being renovated into a public park with open park space and a splash pad, and the former Three Springs building is under renovation as a community center.

Of course, the Madison City School District, which recently celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, has its own developments to celebrate with a new middle school, elementary school, and pre-school and the highest ranking school district in the state by NICHE.

According to Mayor Finley, these developments and accomplishments are the continuation and fruit of forty years of work from past city officials to build up the city of Madi-


“I think the key here is for forty years, mayors, city councilmen, department heads, school superintendents, our Madison school board, have all stepped up and continued at their point in time to take Madison from a sleepy, little town to a bustling, enjoyable, incredibly positive town,” he stated.

He credits the current city leaders for their dedication and savviness keeping the city on a prosperous path.

“We have seven Madison city council members. They continue to be incredibly strong partners, helping us with the legislative and governance, and being able to work together to make sure that we meet our mission statement of taking what you give us and stretching it as far as we can and making a difference for your community,” the mayor remarked.

He also credited the current success of the city to the fifteen departments that comprise city hall and that work behind the scenes to execute initiatives.

“I continue to be amazed at what our department heads, using each one of teams, do for our city,” Finley said.

Moving forward, the mayor assures that himself and his colleagues in municipal government make decisions to introduce “meaningful” that are sure to improve the quality of life for Madison residents, “We all must continue to strategi-

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cally plan to keep education at its highest level, to work diligently to get you to and from school and work and to continue to help this community grow.”

In addition to a fireworks show, guests to “Celebrate Madison” were treated to an arrary of fun activities for the whole family.

Madison City Schools (MCS) partnered in the event. MCS Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols, board members, drumline corps from Bob Jones High School and James Clemens High School, student groups such as S2S chapters from Bob Jones and Discovery Middle School, and others were among MCS representatives taking part.

Stay updated on what is to come by visiting and following their Instagram (@madisonalchamber) and Facebook (Madison Chamber of Commerce).

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90 Madison Living 559167-1

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