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Held the first Saturday of November, Kenan’s Mill Fall Festival is a celebration of rural life and traditions in the Black Belt of Alabama. The 12th annual Kenan’s Mill Festival will be held on Saturday, Nov. 2 with stone-ground cornmeal, grits and an apple-cider making demonstration. Info on last year’s celebration is below:
The day-long festival at the 1860’s gristmill on Valley Creek also features live music, hayrides, mill tours, art, crafts and children’s events.
“There are more children’s activities this year,” said chairman Sylvia Smith, and in addition to the very popular hayrides, the little train from Old Mac’s Farm will be there from 10 to 1. Children can also make and decorate birdhouse gourds to take home, plus participate in three-legged sack races, horseshoes, bean bag toss, hula hoops, and face painting.”
Children who attend the festival can enjoy the Selma Fire Department’s Fire Safety Jump House from 10-2, and everyone can taste samples of homemade apple cider made by Robert Gordon on an old-fashioned screw-type press.
Live music features young fiddler Caleb Bryant and his grandfather from Northport, the bluegrass band Highway 280 of Dadeville, and Jacky Jack White & J. Burton Fuller of Sumter County.
Crowd favorite Caleb Bryant returns again this year playing solo and with his grandfather. Caleb is a young fiddler who has won many competitions and currently plays fiddle in CrimsonGrass – a bluegrass Gospel Group in the West Alabama area. Caleb began playing the fiddle when he was four years old. God has blessed him to be able to progress into quite a fiddle player. The crowd will be shocked as they listen to this young man; they will have to remind themselves that he is only eleven years old!! He most recently won the age 11-15 fiddling category at the Tennessee Valley Old-Time Fiddlers Convention in Athens. Caleb takes the stage at 10:00 and 12:00.
Back again this year is Highway 280. Highway 280 was formed in 2000 by Clifford Moncus and Billy Turner who were getting together informally to do a little pickin’ at Clifford’s printing shop in Dadeville, Alabama with a few other local bluegrass musicians. Early in 2001, Billy asked Gwen Taunton to bring his 5-string and “jam” with the group one night during one of their practice sessions, and he has been hangin’ around ever since. Then in September of 2009, after several personnel changes in the group during the year, Johnny Hogan joined the group as the new bass player. What makes Highway special is that they love to play music – bluegrass music. The five-member group regularly plays at events in Auburn, Opelika, Alexander City and other east Alabama venues. Highway 280 will play at 11:00 and 2:00.
Jacky Jack White is a legendary songwriter who makes his home in Livingston, Ala. He has written songs for many recording artists including Neal McCoy, Charlie Pride, Ray Stevens and the Carter Sisters. He is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show, “The Sucarnochee Revue”. White’s work spans the genres of country, blues, rockabilly and gospel. His music is lively, at times wistful, and often humorous, but unquestionably Southern. J. Burton Fuller has been a beloved Sumter County singer/guitarist for over six decades. Their CD “On a Sumter County Porch” on Silverwolf Records has garnered national media attention. Jacky Jack White and J. Burton Fuller will play at 1:00 and 3:00.
Visitors can watch corn grinding by Jim Wood at the mill and purchase stone-ground cornmeal and grits, tour the mill house and take a trip across the swinging bridge to see the “beehive” kiln. Vendors with handmade arts and crafts are invited to bring their wares and set up between 7 and 9 a.m. No vendor fee is charged, but donations are welcome.
Once again, visitors can spend the day and eat lunch on site. The Vittles Wagon, which is open all day, offers Brunswick Stew, barbecue, chili, hot dogs, Hoppin’ John, cornbread, hot and cold beverages, sides and sweets.
“This is a fun event that celebrates rural life in the Black Belt and is suitable for the whole family,” said Smith. “Bring your lawn chairs and sit in the shade in front of the bandstand and spend the day.” Hay bales will be scattered about for extra seating. Handicapped restrooms and parking are also available, and there’s a wheelchair ramp at the mill house.
Only service animals allowed. No pets.
Gates are open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Selma is located 50 miles west of Montgomery on U.S. 80 and 90 miles south of Birmingham on Alabama 22. It can also be reached via Alabama 14 just a 45-minute drive west of Prattville. (Click here for directions) The mill road entrance is about a mile north of Selma on Summerfield Road (County Road 37). Turn right onto a gravel road across the Valley Creek bridge past the City of Valley Grande sign. Admission is just $5 per person 12 and over. Children under 12 get in FREE.
For more information, visit our Facebook page or call 334-412-0722. Sponsored by the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society, Kenan’s Mill Festival began in 2002.
A Brief History
Kenan’s Mill was built in the mid 1800′s and produced water-ground meal, grits and corn for over 100 years. The grounds also include a fascinating 19th Century brick charcoal kiln. Kenan’s Mill was built and continuously owned by the Kenan family until Elizabeth Kenan Buchanan donated it to the Historic Society in 1997. Restoration is ongoing, and the mill is currently operating on special occasions by the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society. Kenan’s Mill is a great place to hold your wedding, party, or special occasion. For rental information, please click here.