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Mary Lou Vonderau

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The calendar in Alabama is filled with regional festivals and annual celebrations throughout the year. Here are a few of the more popular and significant events in the Heart of Dixie.

Greater Alabama Fall Fair and Festival (Birmingham)

Since 1842, Alabamans have been celebrating the Alabama State Fair, recently re-named the Greater Alabama Fall Fair and Festival. The 10-day celebration draws more than a half million visitors each year. With commercial exhibits, arts and cultural presentations, livestock demonstrations, contests, food, carnival games and rides. The fair is held at the end of October on the Alabama State Fairgrounds in Birmingham.

City Stages

Held in downtown Birmingham in mid-June, City Stages is a world-class music festival that features some of today's most popular artists. Embracing national and local acts in a wide variety of musical styles including rock, country and hip-hop on 9 stages, the festival also includes a children's festival, interactive exhibits and plenty of food vendors.

Jubilee CityFest

Held in on the Montgomery riverfront each May, the Jubilee CityFest is one of the state's largest music and children's festivals. The festival brings in national headliners as well as the best in regional and local performing entertainment. Past headlining acts have included such notable names as Al Green, Randy Travis and REO Speedwagon. The weekend's festivities incorporate an ArtsFest, an 8k/2-mile run and a symphony concert.

Tale Tellin' Festival

Oral storytelling has a long history in the South, a core part of the American folk tradition. National known storytellers gather around an abandoned Southern plantation in Selma each October to carry on this resolute art form. From ghost stories to coming of age tales, these fictions are an experience not to be missed.

Mardi Gras

Though few know it, the roots of Mardi Gras actually took hold in Mobile in 1703, long before ever being adopted by the city of New Orleans. Mobile was at one time the capital of France's Louisiana Colony, and the influence of French culture and the growth of the region's Creole population easily explain why the celebration caught on so easily. Since its Gulf Coast beginnings, Mardi Gras has been one of the most popular and captivating annual events in the region. Mardi Gras in Mobile includes colorful parades, elegant balls and pageants, and elaborate street fairs featuring dazzling performers and intricate, vivid costumes. America's family-friendly Mardi Gras, the celebration last nearly two weeks and culminates on Fat Tuesday, the last day before the Catholic Lent.

Whistle Stop Festival & Rocket City BBQ Cook-off

This two-day event in May allows Northern Alabamans to taste some of the best Barbecue in the country. Sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, the main competition will pit award-winning cooking teams against one another. The Shade Tree Cookers Competition lets amateurs find out who is the best backyard cook. The festival features a kid's fun zone and great country and oldies music.

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