Celebrations providing a glimpse into the uniqueness and individuality of north Alabama cities and towns will take place across the Tennessee Valley in September.
Expect greased pig chases, stick horse races, a Trail of Tears tribute, Civil War reenactments, hayrides, barbecue battles and more.
Navigate the events with this festival guide.
USS LST SHIP MEMORIAL
• Aug. 29-Sept. 3
• Ingalls Harbor
• Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6-17 and free for 5 and younger, World War II and Korean War veterans.
A remnant of America’s war history will sail along the Tennessee River and into Ingalls Harbor on Aug. 28, offering the public an up-close experience with a class of ship involved in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
The last of her kind, the transport ship is the only World War II LST in its original configuration. Tours of the ship will be available Aug. 29-Sept. 3, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. An opening ceremony will take place Aug. 29 at 9:45 a.m. Visitors will walk the decks and see how the troops lived, ate and worked.
When the LST 325 last visited Decatur in 2014, more than 17,800 people toured the ship. Lstmemorial.org.
Battle for Decatur
• Aug. 31-Sept. 1
• Point Mallard Park
• Cost: Free
Dressed in Union blues and Confederate grays, dozens of reenactors will bring history to life at the Battle for Decatur. The annual event, complete with 19th century muskets, a cannon and the cavalry, commemorates the four-day Civil War skirmish that took place along the Tennessee River in 1864.
Organizers expect up to 7,000 people to attend the free historical experience. Along with mock battles set for 2 p.m. both days, the event will feature civilian and military camps with authentic food, costumes and equipment, a ladies’ tea, military ball and church service.
Civilian and military camps will open at 10 a.m. each day. On Aug. 31, special events include the ladies’ tea at 10 a.m. and the military ball with Civil War-era music at 8 p.m. A church service will take place Sept. 1 at 10 a.m.
The 1st Alabama Cavalry Company G Wheelers Escort will host the event. Organizers also will hold a school day for students on Aug. 30, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m., which will feature a lesson on the history of flags and a demonstration on blacksmithing.
Decatur Riverfest BBQ & Music Fest
• Sept. 13-14
• Ingalls Harbor
• Cost: $5 for adults, free for ages 10 and younger
To celebrate the 25th annual Riverfest, the second oldest barbecue competition in Alabama, the barbecue and music fest will return to its roots.
“Riverfest started as a grassroots event,” said Leah Brown, executive director of Mosaic of North Alabama, which hosts the event. “When we were thinking about what to do for the silver anniversary, we wanted this year to be a homecoming. We decided to go back to Riverfest’s beginnings.”
That means dropping the price of admission to $5 and showcasing local musicians.
Slated to perform at the festival is the Ben Parker Project fronted by Lawrence County native and current Nashville resident Ben Parker, Jesse Priest Music of Cullman, The Shannon Woods Band of Morgan County and the Lamont Landers Band.
During the two-day festival, dozens of professional and backyard barbecue teams will smoke, grill, inject and baste chicken, rib, pork and brisket in hopes of earning the title of grand champion. Other categories include dessert and sauce. Among the competitors will be six-time and reigning Riverfest champion Jiggy Piggy of Decatur.
Along with music and barbecue, Riverfest will feature a children’s area with carnival games, an inflatable obstacle course, craft tent and more.
Proceeds from Riverfest will benefit Mosaic of North Alabama, a nonprofit organization focused on mentoring children. The organization currently serves 250 children across north Alabama.
“This is an affordable event for the entire family. What we wanted was for the families we deal with on a daily basis at Mosaic to be able to come out and enjoy this event,” Brown said.
Limestone County Powwow
• Sept. 14-15
• Limestone County Arena
• Cost: $7 for adults, $5 for ages 6-12 and seniors.
Drummers, dancers and singers will highlight Native American culture during the Limestone County Powwow. The family-friendly event will include Native American food, craft demonstrations and the Danza Azteca Tonaxi dancers. Gates will open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day with a grand entry at noon.
Primitive camping on site is allowed. Organizers encouraged attendees to bring blankets and lawn chairs.
Hartselle Depot Days
• Sept. 21
• Downtown Hartselle
• Cost: Free
More than 19,000 people will crowd downtown Hartselle for the 39th annual Depot Days, a tribute to the railroad industry. The all-day event, scheduled for 8 a.m.-4 p.m., will feature music, a truck and motorcycle show, arts, crafts, a tractor show and games for children.
Trail of Tears
• Sept. 21
• Cost: Free
Hundreds of motorcyclists from across the Southeast will unite to honor Native Americans during the Trail of Tears ride. The 26th annual commemorative ride will begin at the Alabama and Tennessee line on U.S. 72 in Bridgeport at 8 a.m. Participants will travel U.S. 72 to I-565 and head west, through Athens and Florence before arriving in Waterloo around 3 p.m.
A kickoff rally with children’s activities, entertainment by Cherokee dancers and a fireworks show will take place Sept. 20 in Bridgeport. Waterloo will hold a free powwow, Sept. 20-22. The three-day event will include flute and drum music and displays of Native American artisans. A River Walk dedication ceremony on Sept. 21 at 10 a.m. in Waterloo will honor and remember the Native Americans forced to take the Trail of Tears journey. al-tn-trailoftears.net/rideschedule.php.
Racking Horse World Celebration
• Sept. 20-28
Dozens of the country’s top racking horses will vie for the title of world champion at the 48th annual Racking Horse Breeders Association of America's World Celebration in Priceville. Under the guidance of children, adults, professionals and amateurs, horses will compete in more than 180 classes.
Other activities include a horse sale, barn decorating contest and stick horse race for children. The nine-day competition will culminate with the announcement of the new World Grand Champion on Sept. 28. Competitions will begin at 6 p.m. each day. rackinghorse.org.
River Clay Fine Arts Festival
• Sept. 28-29
• Decatur City Hall lawn
• Cost: $5 weekend pass; free for children 12 and younger accompanied by an adult
Sculptors, painters, photographers, jewelers and carvers creating art from wood, fiber, clay, oil, glass and stone will descend on Decatur’s City Hall lawn for the fifth annual River Clay Fine Arts Festival.
Of the 68 artists selected for the festival, local artists participating in the two-day event include Brian Corry, Johanna Littleton, Leigh Ann Hurst, Deann Meely, Martha Marks, Richard Grugel, Rickie Higgins and Shawn Haynes, all of Decatur, Cindy Miller of Athens, and Kristi Hyde, an Atlanta jewelry designer formerly of Decatur.
In addition to Alabama and Georgia, artists will represent Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Louisiana and Michigan. Along with the artists’ market, the festival will feature artist demonstrations, music, children’s activities and student art exhibits.
Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sept. 28 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sept. 29. The festival will kick off with River Clay Rendezvous, an arts patron preview party Sept. 27, 5-9 p.m. Tickets cost $50. riverclay.org.
Eva Frontier Days
• Sept. 21-28
• Downtown Eva
• Cost: $1 for hayride, free for all other activities
Brush up on your greased pig-catching, frog jumping and pig-calling skills for the annual Eva Frontier Days.
The weeklong community celebration includes a parade, antique tractors, car show, crafts, baking contest and music. The fun begins with a beauty pageant Sept. 21 at 10 a.m. at Charlie’s Vineyard at Frost Farm. The week continues with hayrides on Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at 1718 Frost Road, a community singing on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at Eva Methodist Church and music on the square featuring bluegrass group Another Town on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.
Festivities on Sept. 28 include games, an antique tractor show, baking contest, parade at 11 a.m., entertainment by Jeff Whitlow and The Old Barn Band at 12:30 p.m., a pig-calling contest at 3 p.m., frog-jumping contest at 4 p.m. and greased-pig chase at 5 p.m.