Make plans now to bring the whole family to the John Henry Celebration & Leeds Fall Festival in historic downtown Leeds, Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Admission, activities and parking are completely free to the public.
The Alabama Tourism Department previously named this festival one of the top 10 tourism events in Alabama during the month of September and this year’s festival is an Alabama Bicentennial event.
Previously known as the Leeds Downtown Folk Festival, the name was changed to better reflect the event's purpose of promoting Leeds and bringing people to historic downtown Leeds on the third weekend of September.
According to Fall Festival planning committee, the outdoor event will feature great food, a variety of live music on multiple stages, entertainment, art, a car show and lots of activities for children, young people and those young at heart.
And, after a several year hiatus, this year's festival will feature two free performances of the original play by Marie Cromer about John Henry, "Listen to that Cold Steel Ring" on Sept. 21 at Leeds Theatre and Arts Center. Henry, an African-American railroad man, is believed to have entered a winning contest against a steam drill and saved hundreds of jobs as the company he worked for blasted tunnels through mountains south of Leeds in the 1880s.
Activities at Leeds historic railroad depot will include a John Henry short film, African-American Gospel Choirs featuring Birmingham Youth Fellowship Choir. Tours of the Depot will be provided by the Mid-South Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. The Historical Society Stagecoach will be on display. John Garst, Author of John Henry and His People, is scheduled for a discussion time. The John Henry statue project with Branko Medenica, famous Sculptor, will be featured with his John Henry statue rendering. A Children’s Art display will also depict the era.
Folk and country singers are scheduled on the gazebo stage throughout the day including Erica Ryleigh, Miss Leeds Area Charity Bowden, Brooks & Stegall and Gabriel Atkins. Other activities include Professional Storyteller Elizabeth Vander Kamp, Alabama 200 Bicentennial speaker Guy Hubbs, roaming street musicians and the High Striker competition for children and adults. There will be plenty of kid’s activities like the kids moonwalk and games. The Disney American Legends animated movie, John Henry, will show at the library every 15 minutes for a couple of hours. Craft, food and entertainment vendors will line the street on Parkway Drive. A dining and resting tent will be available on Parkway. Rails and Ales will have transport available for those who want to watch football games. Dixie Vintage Antique Automobile Club will lead the way with the car show.
It’s definitely a jammed packed day of fun, inspiration and historical education that you will not want to miss and a wonderful opportunity to learn more about John Henry, the folk hero.
Sponsorships and street vendors are still being accepted. This free event is sponsored by the City of Leeds, Leeds Redevelopment Authority, Leeds Area Chamber of Commerce, Lehigh Cement Company and Brunson, Barnett & Sherrer, PC.
Leeds is conveniently located about 15 miles east of Birmingham, 45 miles west of Anniston and 60 miles southwest of Gadsden. The festival site in historic downtown Leeds is only two miles south of I-20 Exit 140. Locals and visitors alike are invited. Bring a folding chair and stay all day!
For more information about this spectacular event and entertainment/event schedules, please visit www.LeedsJohnHenryCelebration.org. If you would like to speak to a festival organizer, please contact Stephanie Corwin with Leeds Redevelopment Authority at 205.601.0772 or Stephanie.LeedsRDA at gmail.com.