Mark your calendar now and plan to bring your family to the second annual Leeds Downtown Folk Festival & John Henry Celebration from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19, and 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20. Admission and parking are free to the public.
The Alabama Tourism Department has named this two-day festival in Leeds, Ala., one of the top 10 tourism events in Alabama during the month of September.
This festival is held each year on the third weekend of September and celebrates the roots, richness and variety of traditional and contemporary American culture. The event will feature folk music and entertainment, exhibits and demonstrations by fine artists and folk artisans, a variety of children’s activities and down-home Southern food, along with special events and activities celebrating the life of John Henry, a local legend and steel-drivin’ man.
Forty-five artisans will display and demonstrate their craftsmanship. You can watch basket weavers, a metal smith, felters, woodcarvers and potters at work, and take home one-of-a-kind items. Folk musicians and musical groups will perform outdoors on Saturday and Sunday. A special area will be set aside for children ages 4 to 12 to enjoy a variety of activities and make crafts to take home.
The John Henry Celebration will feature a tour of Leeds Historic Depot,
a display of student artwork sponsored by the Leeds Board of Education
and three performances of the play “Listen to that Cold Steel Ring,” ©
written by Marie Cromer.
The play, which will be performed at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and 3
p.m. on Sunday, depicts the life of John Henry and the contest he waged
against a steam drill at Oak Mountain Tunnel in the 1880s.
At 1 p.m. on Saturday. John Garst, professor emeritus, University of
Georgia, and folklorist, will speak about his research into John
A food court and a farmers market will open on Saturday and Sunday.
The festival is sponsored by the City of Leeds, Alabama State Board of
Tourism, Alabama Arts Tag, Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith P.C.,
Hubbell Power Systems, the Monkey’s Uncle, Nubath Alabama, Tri-County
Heating and Cooling and Wellington Development Co. Supporters are the
Leeds Historical Society, Leeds Scenic Byway Management Team, Leeds
Lions Club, Leeds Masonic Lodge, Friends of the Jane Culbreth Library,
Castalia Literary Club, Women’s Literary Club, Peggy’s Barbershop,
J.F.S. Insurance, Jack and Patsy Falletta, Carl Marbury, Eddie Phillips
and Vernon Schmitt. (This list is complete as of 6/28/2009,)
Locals and visitors are invited. There will be fun for everyone in the
family! You may want to bring folding chairs and stay all day.
Leeds is located 15 miles east of Birmingham, just two miles off I-20, exit 140.
The Leeds Downtown Folk Festival & John Henry Celebration is a
501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For more information about the
event, see www.leedsfolkfestival.com. or call Regina Arnold at