SILVERHILL, Alabama — Despite the fact that last year’s festival was postponed by rain, organizers of Silverhill’s annual Heritage Day Festival remain hopeful that the festival’s move from September to April three years ago was a good one.
“You’re just trying to compete against so much at that time of year, particularly football,” said Gerald Ardoin, owner of Café Acadiana and one of the festival organizers. “There’s also the heat to contend with. September is still a summer month and if you’re lucky, you might get a small breeze that cools it down from the mid-90s to 85.”
Indeed, Heritage Day seems to be regaining some of its former glory, hitting the town’s goal of 50 arts and crafts vendors ahead of the 35th installment, which will be held Saturday, April 27.
“You always get a few vendors that will drop out right before, and you will get a few added at the last minute,” Ardoin said. “We’re going to keep the applications open right up until the day before the festival.”
Vendors will be spread out mainly along three of the four corners of Silverhill’s Town Square, which stretches along Main Street (Alabama 104) and Broad Street (County Road 55.
“We really want to highlight the arts and crafts aspect of the festival,” Ardoin said. “Everyone enjoys the entertainment, food and other activities, but we believe most people come to walk around and look at all the arts and crafts.”
The Northeast corner of the festival will be reserved for kid’s activities, including games, bounce houses and a variety of activities. Thanks to the Baldwin Baptist Association, Ardoin said, children will have access to the “Kids’ Corner” free of charge.
“We want this to be a family friendly event,” Ardoin said, “particularly for families with small children.”
Heritage Day was first established in 1982 to celebrate the town’ heritage, primarily Swedish and Czech.
The town of Silverhill was founded in 1896 under the direction of Oscar Johnson, head of the Svea Land Company from Chicago. Early Swedish colonists celebrated the popular Scandinavian holiday Mid-Summer Fest, first-mention of which in the town’s history can be found as early as 1904.
Prior to the festival in 2016, the decision was made not to hold the festival in September and move it to April. This year’s festival was moved to the fourth Saturday in April because of Easter.
This year’s festival kicks off with a fun run hosted by Christian Faith Assembly at 8 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. with a parade at 10 and all-day entertainment.
Live performances will begin around 11 a.m. on a make-shift stage set up near town hall. This year’s entertainment features This Side of 49, John Hart Band and 7th Green.
There will be several food trucks, including Los Taco, Kona Ice, Chicken and Waffle Bar, the Wacked-out Weiner and Buster’s Southern Pit BBQ.
Swedish coffee bread will be for sale at a booth set up near Wedco Jewelry and United Bank (the historic People’s Supply Building). Flavors available include almond, apricot, poppy seed, cherry, cinnamon and pecan, and cream cheese. Cost is $10 each and pre-orders are available.
Bread will be sold beginning around 1 p.m. Friday, April 26 and a limited amount of bread will be for sale beginning around 9 a.m. on the day of the festival (but it goes fast).
Historic bus tours will be running hourly throughout the festival. The 30-minute tours will be guided by Silverhill native, Rockwell Elementary School Principal Robbie Owen.
“We’re just hoping for good weather,” Ardoin said, “and we hope everyone can come out and enjoy all the festivities.”
If you are interested in becoming a vendor for the festival or would like more information, contact town hall at 251-945-5198 or visit the Town of Silverhill’s page on Facebook.