The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a festival as a time of celebration marked by special observances. Throughout human history, festivals have functioned as celebratory events that allow people a reprieve from day to day life. For example, La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain is a festival in which participants engage in a massive food fight, hurling as many tomatoes as they can at each other over the course of an hour. The battle of the oranges in Ivrea, Italy is a festival celebrating the people’s victory over a tyrannical Lord. During the festival, participants hurl oranges at people dressed in armor to symbolize the common man’s victory over tyranny. The oranges symbolize the severed head of the Lord who was attempting to assert his droit du seigneur, or right of the lord, over the daughters of the serf class. The Newport Jazz Festival was organized in 1954 by Elaine and Louis Livingston Lorillard. Despite protests from residents in the early years of the festival, its popularity continued to grow and presently draws in thousands of visitors every. And of course there is Oktoberfest, which began in Munich, Germany in 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig celebrated his marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen by inviting all the people of Munich to join in the celebration. Festivals bring communities together in a common cause of celebration and revelry and are often vessels of social change by allowing people from different backgrounds and ideologies to congregate in a spirit of camaraderie. And in that spirit, Calhoun County, Alabama boasts several high quality festivals that allow participants to forget the mundane for a moment and come together through the spirit of celebrating our shared heritage.
Noble Street Festival
The Noble Street Festival is an annual event held in downtown Anniston, Alabama and offers many family friendly activities. During the festival, the Sunny King Criterium bike race is conducted. This competition is the kickoff race for the USA Cycling Professional Road Tour where top notch athletes compete for more than $50,000 in prizes. The Scion KidZone is available for children and offers rides, bouncy houses, face painting, and balloons. There are also art activities available for children and performances on the Sunny Kind KidZone stage. The Mellow Mushroom Mad Dash running race for kids is a one-lap race around the bike course. The Mellow Mushroom Mad Dash bike race is available for kids from tricycle age to Grade 6 and allows children to race several hundred yards before crossing the finish line in front of cheering fans. There is also a YMCA Kidz bike race and all children’s races require a fee to participate. Taste on Noble offers area restaurants an opportunity to share their culinary skills with the patrons of the festival. Modestly priced snacks, lunch, and dinner are available and can be enjoyed in covered dining areas. There is also live music offered at several locations during the festival. Noble Street Festival is free to attend and is dog friendly provided they are leashed.
On the first Saturday in October for the last 33 years Oxfordfest has been celebrated on Main Street in downtown Oxford, Alabama. As an arts and crafts festival, the event boasts vendors from varied locations. The festival also provides live music, food, and activities for children and adults alike. They also offer prize drawings and a $1000.00 giveaway.
The Neewhollah on Noble Fall Festival has been going strong for seven years. Held on Noble Street in Anniston, the festival occurs on the last weekend in October. The festival boasts many fall activities including hay rides, live music, and arts and crafts. There are also costume contests for adults, children, and pets. They also offer treat walks, carnival games and food, and various demonstrations and exhibits. It is a great way to experience the spirit of the fall in a safe and family friendly atmosphere.
Festivals are a great way to come together as a community and celebrate the things in which we are mutually interested. The freedom to congregate peacefully and enjoy the company of fellow citizens is a beautiful expression of the American dream. It is a way to celebrate the human condition and the gregariousness of this nation’s people, regardless of race, creed, or religion. So if you are in the festive spirit, chances are that Calhoun County has a place for you to express it.