Helen Keller Festival will welcome great musical artists to Tuscumbia

The 44th Annual Helen Keller Festival welcomes residents and visitors again later this month.

The festival runs from June 23-6 at Spring Park in Tuscumbia. Activities will begin Thursday at 6 p.m. with a parade and street party featuring local bands and food trucks. Other events include a car and truck show, golf tournament, and market featuring arts and crafts vendors.

The events that get the most attention are the exclusive Friday and Saturday night musical performances. Friday night is titled “Stars Fell on Alabama” and will feature former American Idol contestants Tristen Gressett and Cadence Baker, both Alabama natives.

The headliner of the festival will perform on Saturday evening. The rock band Arena Jefferson Starship will take the stage at 8:30 p.m. The group released eight platinum records in the 1970s and 1980s.

President Jamie Smith said when the headliner was announced on social media, the news turned a lot of heads.

“The Story of Helen Keller [Festival] has always had a Saturday headliner for country music,” Smith said. “Having Jefferson Starship is kind of a small change for us. When we released this headliner, the immediate response we received was very positive. At first they were shocked. ‘Is this the real Jefferson? Starship, or is it an imitation?’

The festival is not just musical performances. Smith said the festival honors and traces the life of an often misinterpreted historical figure.

“Helen Keller herself is against what TikTok and our young people think these days,” Smith said. “If we can get people to come and visit her house, see the place, see the area she was so involved in, we can take that speculation. She did things for the deafblind community that showed them there were no limits.

Helen Keller was born in Tuscumbia in 1880. Keller is best known for her advocacy for the rights of the disabled and her work for the American Federation of the Blind from 1924 to 1968. The festival once again welcomes visitors to Helen Keller’s home this year with the production of “The Miracle Worker”, a drama that depicts his youth. The drama is in its 56th year.

Thursday and Sunday evening entertainment is free. Friday and Saturday events require a $5 entry fee to cover performer costs. Arts and crafts vendors are open for free all four days outside the park.

For more information on event planning, parking and what to bring, visit hellenkellerfestival.com.

William N. Fernandez