MONTGOMERY, AL - UFO Days, a Chicken and Egg Festival, an Interstate Mullet Toss and a Coon Dog Cemetery Celebration are a few of the offbeat and quirky celebrations to experience during the Year of Alabama Small Towns and Downtowns.
In addition to these unique festivals, 215 cities and towns will host Great Alabama Homecoming events this year.
The Alabama Department of Tourism has compiled a list of 11 unique events that will take place beginning in April through October!
Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival in Moulton, April 10-11
The two-day outdoor festival in Moulton features food vendors, live entertainment on the Chicken Stage, educational exhibits, children's activities, a display of 100 live exotic Bantam chickens, a chicken clucking contest, beauty pageant, chicken wing-eating contest, egg-eating contest, chicken bowling, photography contest and appearances by "Nugget" and "Scramble," the festival's official mascots. For more information: 256.318.7270, www.alabamachickenandeggfestival.com.
Interstate Mullet Toss in Orange Beach, April 23-25
Participants throw dead fish across the Alabama's state line into Florida to see who can throw one the farthest. The festival includes a weekend of live music, great food, golf tournaments, and more and Alabama's white sand beaches and is held the last full weekend in April in Orange Beach. The event benefits the Alabama Sheriff's Boys & Girls Ranch and the Boys and Girls Club of Escambia County. For more information: 251.974.1510,www.gulfshores.com.
Possum Day in Franklin, May 15
Residents gather at the town hall for music, food, and arts and crafts throughout the day. The event's name originated from kids in the 1960s and 70s who joked that Franklin was such a sleepy town it should have "possums" crossing the road. During the organizational meeting for the first Possum Day, a couple of residents proposed the humorous name and it stuck. For more information: 334.727.2111.
9-1-1 Festival in Haleyville, June 12-13
Each June, Haleyville honors its police, fire, rescue, and emergency personnel and celebrates its role in history with the annual 9-1-1 Festival downtown. In 1968, the city of Haleyville made history when Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite placed the first 9-1-1 emergency call from Haleyville's City Hall to U.S. Representative Tom Bevill at the city's police station. Activities include a street dance, parade, arts and crafts, children's activities, a barbecue cook-off, and more. For more information: 205.486.3121, www.haleyvillechamber.org
Mayberry Days in Graysville, July 10
Graysville, the city which calls itself "Alabama's Most Progressive Town," hosts an annual Mayberry Days festival to celebrate the legacy of television's "Andy Griffith Show." Complete with Barney Fife and Goober look-alikes, a squad car and more, the Jefferson County event takes place in July. It features entertainment and a parade. 205.674.5643, www.graysvillecity.com
Okra Festival in Burkville, August 28
Festival goers describe it as "a big family party," where people return year after year to celebrate. Okra is of African origin and is a versatile vegetable that may be enjoyed boiled, battered, pickled or fried, or used in soups, stews and gumbo. The festival began in 2000 and soon became unique in its ability to attract people of all races, who interact with the locals in love and friendship. 334.324.0555 or 334.652.1206.
UFO Days in Fyffe, August 28
The annual Unforgettable Family Outing (UFO), held in late August, capitalizes on the town's famous history when townspeople spotted unidentified flying objects or UFOs over the area. Giant hot air balloons are the centerpiece of the two-day event that also features hour-long rides across Sand Mountain, arts and crafts vendors and entertainment. 256.623.2222, ext. 3, www.fyffecitylimits.com
Alabama Butter Bean Festival in Pinson, September 3-4
Participants in this festival dedicated to a vegetable can attempt the "World Record" of cooking the largest pot of beans. The family-friendly event includes a Super Kidz Zone, car show, children's parade, Tail Waggin' pageant, Mr. & Miss Butter Bean pageant, golf tournament, fashion show, 5K race and 1-mile fun run, greased pig contest, butter bean recipes, live entertainment and cornbread cooking contests, 205.572.2041. www.butterbeanfestival.com.
Crenshaw County Annual Peanut Boil Festival in Luverne, September 4-6
Dubbed "The World's Largest Peanut Boil," this annual festival is held every fall. Tons of peanuts are boiled and bagged by the Crenshaw County Shriners Club during the event. Since 1970, the Peanut Boil has become a Labor Day weekend tradition for people within a 60-mile radius of Luverne. 334.335.4468, www.crenshawcounty.net.
Coon Dog Cemetery Labor Day Celebration in Tuscumbia, September 6
Each Labor Day, the Tennessee Valley Coon Hunter's Association hosts a celebration at the cemetery to remember faithful coon dogs, and to enjoy buck dancing, a liar's contest, music and barbecue. More than 200 graves are freshly decorated for the event. 800.344.0783. www.colbertcountytourism.org.
Alabama Frog Level Festival in Fayette, October 1-2
The event includes frog jumping contests, the Miss Frog Level contest, vendors, music, antique cars and trucks, and the Syrup City Run. Fayette was formerly known as Frog Level. The name originated from the fact that the town sits just above the flood level of the river "right down on the level with the frogs." The festival celebrates two unique aspects of the town's heritage, frogs and syrup. The Syrup City Run spotlights Fayette's history as home of the Golden Eagle Syrup Company since 1929. 205.932.4587, www.fayetteareachamber.org.
For a comprehensive Alabama Calendar of Events, call 1-800-ALABAMA. For a list of the Great Alabama Homecoming celebrations, visit www.alabamahomecoming.com.