It’s that time of year again, time for the much anticipated and enjoyed Gardendale Magnolia Festival. Depending on how Easter falls, the third weekend in April welcomes this wonderful gathering.
Originally it was a one-day gathering, but Friday was added several years ago to start the Festival. The opening offers a midway carnival, one stage live entertainment, and several food vendors. This is the beginning of a weekend packed full of fun, food, entertainment, free kids activities, a car show, and even a pooch parade.
History of Gardendale’s Magnolia Festival
It started as a one-day event by the Gardendale Rotary club in 2002, with around a thousand visitors at the civic center. The Chamber of Commerce organized it in the second year. Both the Gardendale Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce organized it together for a few years. In 2006 the festival needed to find a coordinator the Mayor reached out to, Kathleen Royal Phillips, and she became the new festival coordinator. Seventeen years later, she is still finding ways to make the jamboree bigger and better every year. Kathleen shares, “I absolutely love coordinating it; people attend the festival every single year as kind of a community family reunion.”
Things to do
Not only does the weekend provide free parking and free admission to the general Festival, but Friday has one stage of live entertainment, carnival, and food. Then Saturday, there’s a free car show, carnival, food, two sets of live entertainment at no charge, free art classes, vendor booths, and a huge free kid zone.
With paved parking and access from sidewalks, the venue is wheelchair accessible. The gathering is pet-friendly, but animals must be kept on leashes according to the city leash law. Of course, if they poop, please scoop.
Understanding the sanitation procedures in accordance with CDC guidelines, hand sanitizer will be available not only at the welcome tent but also in the dining areas. Signs are displayed to remind visitors to wash their hands. Of course, since the mask mandate has been lifted, it is up to individuals to decide if a mask is needed in some of the more populated areas.
This year, new to the gathering will be the Bama Air Dogs will be performing two free dog, and frisbee shows on Saturday. They will be performing in the semi-circle of vendor booths between Main St and Larry York Drive.
National attention, scholarships, and charities
With a gathering, the size of the Magnolia festival, local restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and local businesses all see an increase in funds. The Magnolia festival has brought in lots of national attention to the city and provided over $200,000 in scholarships to North Jefferson High school Seniors and another $20,000 to local charities and civic organizations. In promoting local businesses while incorporating arts and crafts, the Festival is seen not only as an art gathering but as a way to discover new and exciting parts of our community. The Magnolia Festival was featured on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel in 2004. Being a tourist destination, it still get visitors from other states on the reruns alone.
We hope to see you there, as many of us at the North Jefferson Post plan to attend!
As I look back, I remember before being married nights of playing tennis at Moncrief park, as I have always…
There are plenty of great traditions in North Jefferson county, from the amazing Gardendale parade to the Fultondale Christmas tree…