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Pepper Jelly Festival to be Saturday

Memories, both new and old, will come together on Saturday, April 25, during the Alabama Black Belt Action Commission’s fourth anniversary in Thomaston.

The event, marking the commission’s creation and efforts to improve living conditions in Alabama’s Black Belt counties, will be held in conjunction with the Rural Heritage Day and Pepper Jelly Festival conducted by the Alabama Rural Heritage Foundation.

“Our annual Black Belt celebrations are always special, but this one sets a higher mark,” said State Sen. Hank Sanders, co-chairman of the commission.

“While we are able to reflect on our achievements and establish new goals, we are also able to take note of the things that make Alabama the Black Belt truly unique and wonderful. One of our goals is to partner with institutions already doing good work.”

Festivities will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rural Heritage Center at 133 Sixth Ave. in Thomaston.

The free event will include handmade crafts, arts and food. Music from blues, southern rock, country and gospel performers also will be on the main stage.

“This celebration is the perfect venue for telling the story of the Black Belt, its people and its accomplishments,” said Marengo County Probate Judge Cindy Neilson, who chairs the heritage festival.

“Through our association with the Alabama Black Belt Action Commission, it is our goal to bring awareness to our communities and improve the lives of those who choose to call the Alabama Black Belt their home.”

The commission’s exhibit will provide general information about the commission. T-shirts, bottled water and balloons will be given away.

Several exhibitors sponsored by the commission will showcase their crafts adjacent to the Black Belt tent, including folk artist Charlie Lucas, the Gee’s Bend Quilters, storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham and playwrights-actors Malik and Vassie Wellbeck-Browne.

Gov. Bob Riley founded the Black Belt Action Commission in 2004 to improve education, economic opportunities, medical and health services, and the overall quality of life for Black Belt residents. Marengo is one of 12 counties in the Black Belt region.