Ballyhoo Fest March 5-6 at Gulf State Park
By Fran Thompson
As always, the tribal dancers from the Poarch Creek Indians will be a major attraction when the locally produced Ballyhoo Fest returns to the shores of Lake Shelby (20115 State Park Rd.) at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores on March 5-6. Hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The fest is also a showcase for fine artists from all over the Southeast and includes fiddler and banjo competitions. But at its core, the fest has always taken pride in being a cultural exchange with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who will perform traditional dances dressed in spectacular ceremonial regalia twice on Saturday. Each of the dances has a specific meaning. And the audience will be invited to join the tribe for their last tribal dance at both performances.
The Poarch Creek Indians are descendants of the original Creek Nation, which once covered almost all of Alabama and Georgia. Unlike many southeastern tribes, the Poarch Creeks were not removed from their tribal lands. They have lived together for over 150 years as the only nationally recognized tribe in Alabama.
The fest’s Sunday banjo and fiddle competitions are sponsored by Flora-Bama Lounge & Package and the Frank Brown International Songwriters Fest. Both competitions include separate youth and adult divisions and will award cash prizes to the best players. For more fest info, visit ballyhoofestival.org.
Another fest highlight is a Sunday performance from the Cotton Pickin’ Kids, six siblings, ages 11 to 19, who play different instruments and specialize in bluegrass music.
The fest includes a children’s art tent, live art demonstrations and unique food. Parking is available across from the Lake Shelby fest site at Gulf State Pier for $5, and limited handicapped parking is available on festival grounds. Attendees can also drop off and pick up at the park entrance, then park across the street and walk over the bridge to the festival. Shuttles will be available at the Gulf State Pavilion only if there is a need for overflow parking.