By Bernie Delinski, TimesDaily
A region known all year round for its music steps up a notch the rest of the month at the WC Handy Festival.
Now in its 41st year, the festival features some 250 events at restaurants and other venues inside and outside the Shoals region of northwest Alabama.
“People ask me about it all year round,” festival president Tori Bailey said of the annual event.
The festival, which pays tribute to WC Handy, a native of Florence and “father of the blues”, offers a variety of music and events until July 31.
In fact, it even included a kind of Handy Festival Eve celebration on Thursday night with the first Handy Block Party and Karaoke Idol at FloBama Restaurant. The festival includes many daytime events as well as hands-on musical evenings at various restaurants and other venues.
“We really appreciate all of our Handy customers, and many restaurants are among our customers,” Bailey said.
She said 30,000 Handy brochures were printed. They can be found in various locations throughout the Shoals, and Handy t-shirts are on sale for $20, while t-shirts from previous festivals are available at discounted prices.
Dee Lucas is the headliner for this year’s festival, which begins at 7:30 p.m. on July 30 at the University of North Alabama’s Norton Auditorium. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $30 for VIP seating.
It’s also the first year of what will become an annual event – the WC Handy Kickoff Extravaganza at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia. The extravaganza features Tony Terry, Glenn Jones, Shirley Murdock, Wilson Meadows, Eric Essix, Donna Wills, the Midnighters, Travis Wammack, Vann Burchfield, King Tut and DJ Charlie Hustle.
“It’s a new event for us and it’s so important to us,” Bailey said. “The lineup includes hitmakers who have topped the charts.”
Sunday will feature a key event on the WC Handy Home and Museum lawn starting at 6 p.m. This has traditionally been known as the Opening Ceremonies but from this year it is called the official Handy Sunday Ceremony as the festival has expanded over the years to include the whole weekend as opening.