Roots Festival a success

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2005

EUTAW – A little blues, a lot of sunshine, some homemade ice cream and freshly fried pork rinds add up to a successful 30th Annual Black Belt Roots Festival in Eutaw Saturday.

Guests were treated to vendors selling everything from traditional handmade quilts and crocheted dolls to paintings and lots of food.

“The Black Belt Folk roots Festival is a unique celebration in our area,” Zippert said. “It brings together musicians, craftperson’s, storytellers, food specialists and community workers, all who are considered hearers of the traditions and folkways of the West Alabama region.”

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Among the musicians playing was Terry “Harmonic” Bean, who had people dancing in the aisles as he played the Blues. Napoleon Young and others who grew up with the Blues music played by Bean took the opportunity to dance a jig for those watching.

In addition to Bean, Blues guitarist and vocalists Clarence Davis, Willie King, Birmingham George Conner and Jesse Daniels entertained under the large tent, as well as Little Jimmie Reed on harmonica and guitar, Jock Webb with vocal and guitar performances and Adolphus Bell on blues guitar.

Festival coordinator Dr. Carol P. Zippert said the event has always been very attractive to musicians and other skilled craftperson’s.

Crafts included quilts created by artists Betty Rogers and Lureca Outland and basket weavers Odessa Rice, Mary Hicks, J.C. Williams and Sarah Duncan. And, as always, homemade ice cream was another mainstay in the regional celebration.

The children’s tent featured storytelling, rap poetry, African drumming and dance, face painting, rides and games. Newcomers this year were Sunshine the Clown, who entertains with storytelling, magic, games and body art. Paula Larke, a folk singer, storyteller, guitar and banjo player from New York City, will also make her first trip to the event.

The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival began 30 years ago when it was organized by Jane Sapp through the Miles College Eutaw campus. The focus of the festival was to lift the contributions of African Americans to the culture and folkways of the region. Since that time it has become a mainstay in the region. Family and class reunions, vacations and other summer events are planned each year around the festivities schedule drawing thousands to Greene County each year.

The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is supported by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel. The festival was sponsored by the Society of Folk Arts and Culture.


Festival 1: Elijah Barnes of Boligee tries to keep cool during the Black Belt Folk Roots Festival Saturday.

Festival 2: Sarah Brewer, left, and Sarah Duncan hardly had time to breathe Saturday during the 30th Annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival as the line for their hand-cranked homemade vanilla ice cream extended at least 10 or more people throughout the day.

Festival 3: Christella Butler, more affectionately known as Sunshine the Clown, made her first appearance at the Black Belt Folk Roots Festival Saturday. Butler has been “clowning around” for 16 years now.