The 41st edition of the Helen Keller Festival promises to deliver an extra special punch this year: It begins June 27, which is Helen Keller’s birthday.
The dates are June 27-30.
Tuscumbia Mayor Kerry Underwood said the significance of the city’s celebration of the First Lady of Courage cannot be overstated.
“We can’t celebrate her life and her success without first acknowledging her beginning right here at Ivy Green, and her breakthrough at this pump,” Underwood said. “She was unrealized potential to herself and the world until this point in her life.”
Underwood said that although the festival is full of activities and celebration, it is also a weekend each June to reflect.
“It’s a very reflective time as we pause to realize we can overcome whatever is holding us back,” he said. “This is a festival, but it is representative of overcoming. This is Helen Keller’s legacy and Tuscumbia’s as well.”
Festival Committee Chairman Eli Harper said the actual festival opening on Keller’s birthday is extremely rare, and will call for special activities.
The Keller Kids event on opening day will include a birthday party in honor of Helen Keller. At the conclusion of the camp, participants will enjoy cupcakes.
The committee this year has also revamped the children’s event, “Imagination Station,” which is now called “Kids on Commons.” The event with arts, crafts and family activities will be from 5 to 7 p.m. June 25 in front of Ivy Green. Admission is free.
In its 58th season, “The Miracle Worker” play features four generations of actresses who’ve played the roles of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller.
The play opens Friday night and goes through July 13. It is held in the specially built amphitheater on the Ivy Green grounds, which this year features a new sound booth and bleachers.
The festival’s opening parade will be 6 p.m. June 27 on Main Street.
This year’s festival/parade grand marshal is Kenji Hamada, an Oregon optometrist whose philanthropic efforts started Camp Courage: A Helen Keller Experience. The camp, held in the fall at Ivy Green, caters to children who are deaf or blind and educates them about Helen Keller.
This year’s artist honorees for the Helen Keller Art show of Alabama are Ava Claire Brakefield and Andre Garrett, both of Trussville.
Brakefield, who is blind, is a second-grader at Paine Elementary. She is the winner of the Patty Tyson Johnson Award and is the festival’s junior grand marshal.
Garrett is the winner of the Colbert County Purchase Award. The 10-year-old, who is blind, won for his “I Can See Clearly Now,” multimedia entry. His art is on display at the Tennessee Valley Art Center, and will travel the state later in the year.
The festival’s musical lineup includes the opening night headliner Velcro Pygmies at 7 p.m. in Spring Park.
The June 28 headliner is the Mixtape ’80s Tribute Band, and the June 29 headliner is Tanya Tucker.
There is a $5 charge for Thursday through Saturday night music venues.
The June 30 music lineup is geared toward praise and worship with gospel and contemporary Christian artists, including headliner Jason Crabb. There will be no admission charged.
Handicapped parking during the festival is at the main entrance to Spring Park.