African American kid reciting poetry on stage during Heritage Festival

Anniston’s 43rd Annual Heritage Festival

Article By Abby Parks

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This year Black History Month will stretch from Wednesday, February 1st to Wednesday, March 1st. It’s a special time to pay tribute to how the African-American community has contributed to American culture and recognize the struggles they have endured along the way. Among those seeking to celebrate Black History Month is the Anniston Museum of Natural History and Berman Museum with its 43rd Annual Heritage Festival, scheduled for Saturday, February 18 from 9 am-3 pm.

Festival Events

This family-friendly event offers free admission to both the Anniston Museum of Natural History and the Berman Museum (Admission is usually $12/Adults, $8/Children, and $10/Seniors). The Anniston Museum of Natural History is rich in exhibits of prehistoric and modern animals, cultural artifacts, and other unique treasures, while the Berman Museum focuses on honoring veterans, history, and Asian culture. 

Besides enjoying this featured attraction, the Heritage Festival will include African-inspired arts & crafts vendors selling wares such as jewelry, clothing, accessories, and books.  Baby Boy’s BBQ will sell sumptuous food. There will be demonstrations like “On Eagle’s Wing”–a raptor-themed program featuring birds of prey. However, the main draw of this event is its Oration Competition for youth.

The 43rd Annual Heritage Festival Oration Competition

Each year the festival has a certain theme, and this year it is dubbed “43 Years of Poetry Celebrations.” The Oral Competition gives youth in grades Pre-K to 12th grade the opportunity to demonstrate and develop their abilities in public speaking and strengthen their love for reading, writing, and poetry. From 10 am – 2 pm, competitors will recite works by Black authors in the Longleaf Event Center. Within a 5-minute maximum time frame, individuals or groups must perform their recitations by memory in front of a panel of judges. Entry is free, and all participants will receive $10.00, a participation ribbon, and a free one-year family membership to AM&G (Anniston Museum & Gardens). There will also be cash prizes and ribbons available for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, given at the Award Ceremony at 2 pm the day of the event. The age categories of those wishing to compete include:

  • Pre-K
  • Kindergarten
  • 2nd Grade
  • 3rd Grade – 5th Grade
  • 6th Grade – 8th Grade
  • 9th Grade – 12th Grade
  • Group 

To register your child for this unique competition, you can email the downloaded registration form to swoolmaker@annistonal.gov, call 256-237-6261, or visit the  Anniston Museum of Natural History. The entry deadline is Saturday, February 11, 2023. 

In the past, this competition has drawn youth from numerous public and private schools in Alabama, and some children return yearly to compete, showcasing how they’ve improved their articulative skills.  The competition, as well as the festival, was founded by Georgia Calhoun, a retired educator who got on the museum board and created this annual event as a way to not only draw families to the museum but celebrate youth. She’ll be speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the festival at 9:30 am.

Live Music Featuring T.A.D. of Jazz

What Heritage Festival would be complete without giving a nod to how African-Americans have influenced music in the United States? This year, T.A.D. of Jazz will entertain festival-goers at 1 pm with a mix of soul, gospel, and smooth contemporary jazz. They’ve played the Anniston Heritage Festival a couple of times already, as well as the Anniston Jazz Festival, First Friday in Gadsden, and Jazz in the Park in Birmingham.

To attend this well-loved event, visit the Anniston Museum of Natural History and Berman Museum on Saturday, February 18th from 9 am-3 pm located 920 Museum Drive, Anniston, AL. If you’re interested in becoming a vendor, contact Angie Dothard at adothard@annistonmuseum.org or call 256-237-6766.

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