Annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival returns in live production August 28-29, on old courthouse square in Eutaw

By Carol P. Zippert

The annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival, produced by the Society of Folk Arts & Culture, has been held in Eutaw, Greene County, since 1975 as a community celebration. Last year, the festival production was virtual, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, but beginning in early Spring of 2021, the constant inquiries were concerns and encouragements on bringing the live festival back. This year we are celebrating the 46th anniversary of the annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival live on the old courthouse square in Eutaw, scheduled for Saturday August 28 and Sunday August 29. We hope that the continued decrease of coronavirus positive cases and the continuing vaccinations of residents will provide for a relatively safe environment for this year’s festival. Every precaution will be observed to assure the safety of all participants and attendees at the festival, encouraging everyone to wear masks, use hand sanitizers regularly and keep safe distances around vendors and in seating. There will be a limited number of vendors on site in keeping with the safety measures. The underlying theme of the Black Belt Folk Roots Festival has always been an acknowledgement of How We Made It Over. The handcrafted items, including quilts, baskets utensils and others, speak to the necessity of these in earlier times. Quilts were sewn for warmth in winter; baskets had various household uses including carrying cotton from the fields, and as essential for laundry day tasks. Even the foodways demonstrate how our elders, having access to only cast-off items, took what they had to make what they needed. The regional musicians who gather for the Ole Timey Blues show on Saturday, remind us of the struggles of yesterday and how we face similar struggles in our living today. Sunday’s Ole Timey Gospel show, in turn, reminds us of our perseverance, faith and hopefulness that carried us through struggle. The annual festival will again feature a Children’s Tent where artists will engage the young people in hands-on art activities. The purpose is to help our youth find their place and voice in this cultural celebration. The annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is generally embraced as the countywide community celebration, which speaks to and touches the lives of everyone’s history and culture. The festival is a time when family and school classes plan reunions in the county to coincide with festival dates. Family members and various classmates living away come home at festival time to celebrate home – family, church, school, athletics, postsecondary training, weddings and other social milestones. Barring public health mandates to cancel, the annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival will be live on the Thomas Gilmore Courthouse Square in Eutaw on Saturday August 28, with the blues show beginning at 11a.m. and Sunday August 29, with the gospel show beginning at 2 p.m. As a community celebration, there is no monetary admission fee. Come with good will and a disposition toward safety.

Annual festival celebration continues through 44 years

Glory To Glory gospel singers render soul grasping spirituals at annual festival.
Mrs. Claretha Gaines shares her gift of gospel singing at
Sunday’s festival
Artist Mynecia Steele applies face design to youth as mother Akira Spencer looks on.
Erica Hudson
Mynecia Steele presents award at arts drawing to
Erica Hudson for her daughter DeAngela Rogers.
Beverly Vester, center, showcases her hand made jewelry with Dorris Robinson and Allen Turner, Sr.

The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival, produced by the Society of Folk Arts & Culture, completed its 44th year of community celebration Saturday and Sunday, August 24-25, 2019. The basic purpose of the festival is to showcase the traditions and culture of Greene County and the West Alabama region through music, crafts, foodways, reunion gatherings and fellowship.
Mr. Clarence Davis is one of few continuing blues musicians who are founders of the festival’s Ole Timey Blues Stage. He is shown in photo with Debra Eatman, festival Mistress of Order, and blues musicians Jock Webb on harmonica and Nigel Speights on guitar. This year the festival also featured a Kid’s Tent with various arts activities for the youth to engage in. Artist Mynecia Steele organized and directed the arts activities for the youth.
Shown in photo at right is Rita Sands Mahoney and husband continuing her mother’s legacy (Geraldine Sands) of preparing soul food dinners at the festival.

Festival offers soulful music of hardship and triumph

Liz & Burle.jpg


The annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival features Ole Timey Blues artists on Saturday and Ole Timey Gospel artists on Sunday. There is no contradiction in the appreciation of both. As the elders tell it: The wailing blues tell the stories of our struggles, hardships, heartaches, lost loves and lost lives. The prayerful gospel music lifts the stories of our faith, determination, perseverance and How We Made it Over. Many of the founding festival musicians are no longer with us, including Willie King, Bo McGee, Jesse Daniels, George Conner, members of the Echo Gospel Singers, members of the Tishabee Male Chorus, members of the New Gospel Travelers. Shown above are festival founders Clarence Davis, Lemon Harper, Burlie and Liz Daniels, who, along with many others, will be with us at this year’s festival, Saturday August 26 and Sunday August 27 on the Old Courthouse Square in Eutaw, AL.

Black Belt Folk Roots Festival celebrates 42nd year

festival story.jpgWhere else can you smile and sway to ole timey blues, enjoy the delicacies of right-off-the grill barbecue and polish sausages, feast on freshly cooked country dinners with assorted pies and cakes and then top it all off with hand churned homemade ice cream.
All this and more is happening at the annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival on Saturday, August 26 and Sunday August 27 on the Old Courthouse Square in Eutaw, AL.
In its 42nd year of community celebration, the festival will again feature down home blues music, old timey gospel, traditional foods, handmade crafts and special events for the young people.

Saturday’s events are scheduled from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with Ole Timey Blues and dancing featuring musicians Clarence Davis, The Liberators, Jock Webb, Davey Williams, Russell Gulley, Terry “Harmonica” Bean, Jock Webb, Lil’ Jimmie Reed and others.
The handmade crafts available at the festival are traditional quilts and other needle works; baskets from white oak, pine needles and corn shucks. The assortments of down-home foods include soul food dinners, barbecue, fried fish, chicken and skins, Polish sausage, homemade ice cream, cakes and pies; snow cones, Italian ice, and more.
Ole Timey Gospel is reserved for Sunday’s festival beginning at 2:00 p.m. and featuring the The Echo Juniors, The Melody Kings, The Mississippi Traveling Stars, The Golden Gates, New Generation Men of Promise, Sons of Zion, Greene County Mass Choir and many others. “The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is home coming time in the region. Many families, class reunions and social clubs plan their annual activities to coincide with the festival’s schedule,” stated Dr. Carol P. Zippert, festival coordinator. “The festival brings together musicians, craftspersons, storytellers, food specialists, community workers – all who are considered bearers of the traditions and folkways of the West Alabama region,” she explained. “This is a festival where people truly celebrate themselves – their joys and struggles and especially ‘how we made it over,’” Zippert states.
According to Dr. Zippert, the two day festival is open to the public free of charge. The hours are Saturday, August 26, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Sunday August 27, 2:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.
The Black Belt Folk Roots Festival is supported in part by the Black Belt Community Foundation, and other local contributors.
The festival is produced by the Society of Folk Arts & Culture. There is no admission fee for the festival events. For more information contact Carol P. Zippert at 205-372-0525;