Sam Sheets
Sam Sheets, 7, from Albertville, rides a mechanical bull in the children’s area on Saturday at the 46th annual Harvest Festival in Boaz.

Sparks of memories and “good ole days” often flood the minds of residents ahead of the Boaz Harvest Festival — especially this year.

Boaz hosts its 55th annual festival Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4-5. Located in the heart of downtown, Boaz Mayor David Dyar said the festival always takes him back to his 10-year-old self, cruising up and down the crowded street on his bicycle. He said he often nickeled and dimed for an apple pie and a bag of sweet, peanut brittle.

“That’s when everybody would ride their bicycle up and down town,” Dyar said. “Mommas and daddies wouldn’t mind their kids riding up and down town, then.

“The harvest festival — you have to remember, this was 40-50 years ago,” Dyar continued. “It was a big day … to get out of school, go walk around town and get a homemade apple pie or some peanut brittle, it was a big day in the life of a 10-year-old.”

Jamie Bliss, a Boaz resident, always enjoyed getting to take the day off from school and combing through what seemed like thousands of booths and vendors. But more than any trinket or treasure she discovered, Bliss found the most joy in whom she spent the day with.

“Back in high school, as a member of the Junior Civitans Club, we would get to load up on buses and accompany the special education department to the festival,” Bliss said. “That was always a great day.”

Spending time with loved ones is one of the foundational pillars that harvest festivals were created on. Harvest festivals around the world all began to celebrate the time for harvesting crops. Over time, harvest festivals evolved from a feast of specific crops with family and friends to the exciting, enormous, communitywide events they are known as today.

Susan Duvall, who is director of the Boaz Senior Center, said she always enjoyed seeing people dressed in apparel worn when the harvest festival first began in Boaz.

“Before I came here, I used to work at Weathers, and we would dress up for the harvest festival,” Duvall said. “It was always fun to come up with a long dress, like they used to wear then. They would have contests up town, and all the businesses that participated in dressing up would come. And they’d have a little fashion show. Then they would pick out somebody who had dressed the best … It was just fun, I guess, to dress up and be somebody else that day.”

Duvall said women would wear the long dresses, men would wear suits and Bobby Weathers liked to dress up like a sheriff.

While traditions have been cherished and memories have been made over the last five decades, this year’s Boaz Harvest Festival is anticipated to provide new, lasting memories for families of tomorrow.

The fall fun begins Friday, Oct. 4, at 8 a.m. Opening ceremonies begin at 11 a.m. at Old Mill Park. According to Boaz Area Chamber of Commerce President Jodi Skinner, the festival will host its first cornhole tournament (Friday at 6 p.m.) and cosplay/costume contest this year. Country Case will perform during the cornhole tournament.

The festival also brings back the pumpkin decorating contest, which was started one year ago.

As always, there will be more than 100 vendors lining Main Street and food trucks stationed downtown, open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. each day. Skinner said vendors have the option of staying open later Friday for the cornhole tournament.

The Miss Harvest Festival Pageant and the annual car show are set for Saturday. The pageant begins at 9 a.m. at Old Mill Park. The car show begins with registration at 8 a.m. The fee is $10. The awards ceremony begins at 2 p.m.

For more information about the festival, visit boazareachamberofcommerce.com or call 256-593-8154.

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