Enjoying our local festivals

By Staff
Kimberly West
Franklin County Times
I've always enjoyed going to local festivals because they are usually free, and there's always plenty of good music and food.
I think we are lucky to live in the Shoals area because with one tank of gas, you can drive to a variety of festivals.
This spring I convinced three of my friends to ride along with me to Lawrence County to check out the Chicken &Egg Festival in Moulton. We went on the last day so it wasn't as crowded, and we didn't get to see the wing-eating contest. But we did get to enjoy funnel cakes, a tent exhibit with assorted chickens and a mechanical bull, which is more difficult than it appears.
Florence has the Spirit of America fireworks show, Renaissance Faire and the W.C. Handy Festival, and Tuscumbia recently held the 30th annual Helen Keller Festival. Muscle Shoals hosts City Fest, while Sheffield holds a celebration at Riverfront Park.
Maybe I shouldn't have a favorite event, but I have always loved the W.C. Handy Festival because of the wide range of music offered. The first time I saw The Midnighters play was at a Handy street party while I was in college, and that's the first act I look up in the schedule each year.
And earlier this week I had the opportunity to listen to University of North Alabama student and guitarist Dillon Hodges perform at a Handy Night. It was a lot of fun listening to him pick along to tunes by everyone from Nickel Creek and Gershwin to Maroon 5 and Britney Spears.
My hometown of Athens sponsors the Dogwood Festival in the spring, Soulstock in the summer and the Old-Time Fiddler Convention in October.
But I think Franklin County has the edge on Limestone County in festivals since four different communities – Vina, Hodges, Red Bay and Phil Campbell – each sponsor annual hometown celebrations, and then there's the always-popular Watermelon Festival.
Last year was my first time to attend the Watermelon Festival, which is set for Aug. 15-16. I'm looking forward to stocking up on festival T-shirts, sampling a freshly roasted ear of corn dipped in steaming hot butter, listening to local musical talent, participating in the Watermelon Run and watching the contests for largest melon, weirdest-shaped melon and seed-spitting.

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