W.C. Handy Festival, Florence Alabama
If you are traveling through the northwest corner of Alabama in July, take note of the W. C. Handy Festival in Florence, Alabama. The last 10 days of July each year are dedicated to this musical event – located 50 miles northeast of the Tiffin Motorhomes facility. W. C. Handy (1873-1958) was born in Florence and went on to become known as the “Father of the Blues”. He was an American blues composer and musician best known for playing the trumpet and cornet, but he also played the piano, guitar and sang. In 1958 a movie about his life, St. Louis Blues, was released starring Nat “King” Cole, Pearl Bailey, Mahalia Jackson and Ella Fitzgerald. Some of Handy’s better known compositions are “Memphis Blues, “Saint Louis Blues”, Beale Street Blues, and “Ole Miss Rag”. The log cabin of Handy’s birth has been preserved near downtown Florence. After a lifetime of touring the world, Handy died in New York City in 1958. Over 25,000 people attended his funeral in Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church and over 150,000 people gathered in the streets near the church to pay their respects.
In 1982 the Handy Festival was originally designed to promote area businesses; therefore, the ten day long series of primarily music events occurs in and around the Florence/Shoals area. Restaurants, stores, and other businesses host concerts and activities throughout the festival. With approximately 200 events, there is something for everyone. For a full schedule of dates and events, go to www.wchandymusicfestival.org . The Handy Music Festival has been selected as a Top Ten Event in Alabama and a Top Twenty event in the Southeast since 1986. If you are in the area between July 22 & 31, 2016 – don’t miss this exciting event!