ARLEY - There are more reasons to celebrate at the annual Arley Day festival than ever before.
This year, the festival, planned in its annual time slot of the third Saturday in May, or May 21, marks several changes. The biggest change is a major expansion of the festival itself, resulting in parking moved off site and visitors being shuttled back and forth to the festival located Hamner Park off County Road 77, organizers said.
“Because our park is so rapidly changing, we have decided to be proactive and start making some changes this year,” noted Johnna Bailey, chairperson of Arley Day.
“We are going ahead and jumping in feet first this year and making some changes,” Bailey added.
Since the park itself is being expanded to provide more recreational opportunities for the public, the car show, normally held on the hill facing CR 77, has been moved to a more open grassy area across from the ball fields.
Since that move took up public parking, organizers decided to move all public parking off site and leave the entirety of the park for the festival.
So far, parking will be available across CR 77 at Meek Baptist Church as well as all parking areas on the campuses of Meek Schools, Bailey explained.
“Parking will be marked with signs,” added Bailey. “We will have adequate signs marking where the parking spots are.”
A free shuttle will be available from each parking location and will travel back and forth throughout to the festival at Hamner Park.
As other parking areas become officially available, they will be announced on the Arley Women’s Club Facebook page as well as arleywomensclub.org.
The biggest note of celebration comes from the festival organizers, the Arley Women’s Club celebrating their 50th anniversary.
“Since this is the women’s club’s 50th anniversary celebration this year, it is very near and dear to our hearts to be able to offer the Arley Day festival as a gift to the community,” stated Women’s Club President Barb Wills.
5K benefits Band of Champions
The festival will kick off with a 5K run/walk to benefit the Meek High School Band of Champions. This event will also be a different route than in previous years, and is set to better coincide with the festival at the park, organizer Amy Ackley said.
Those participating in the 5K can sign up by going online at runsignup.com under Arley Day 5K for a $15 per person registration fee.
Registration will be done in person beginning 5 a.m. Location of the registration will be posted online, on Facebook when it becomes available. The 5K run will begin at 5:30 a.m., organizers said.
“We will start and end at Hamner, using Nathan Loop,” she said.
The 5K will travel east of Hamner Park follow Nathan Loop, coming out in town, turning and going back to Hamner Park where they will do a loop in the park trail, according to Ackley.
“We’re hoping this is going to be a great way to kick off Arley Day, showcasing our town and a beautiful path through town,” she pointed out. “Nathan Loop is a wonderful cut-through.”
The 5K will be even more exciting, being the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, that the event has been held as part of the festival, according to Ackley.
Breakfasts benefit Arley VFD
A community breakfast of various breakfast foods will be served from 7 a.m.-8:30 a.m. at Meek Baptist Church, while a pancake breakfast will be held at the nearby Arley fire station, that breakfast hosted by Arley First Baptist.
A donation can be accepted at each location with all proceeds going to benefit the Arley volunteer fire department, Bailey said.
Arts and crafts and food vendors can begin their set up at 6:30 a.m. and should be set up and ready by 8 a.m., according to organizers.
Price for a non-food vendor is $60 for a 10X10 space, with food vendors paying $75 for a 10X14 space.
Vendor registration closes on May 13, according to organizers. Registration can be found online at arleywomensclub.org or the link on Facebook. Vendor organizer Beverly Kelly can be reached at 678-343-5302.
Parade line up at Dollar General
Parade line up will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Dollar General parking lot on County Road 41. The parade will start 8 a.m. and travel down 41 to County Road 77, turn right and end at the parking lot of Meek Baptist Church, across from Hamner Park, Bailey said.
Parade organizers Mark and Montie Pafford can be reached at 817-975-7977. All types of entries are welcome in the parade, such as cars, to be later featured in the show at the park, as well as fire departments, all emergency responders, churches, business, civic organizations, schools, bands, etc., organizers said.
Several political candidates campaigning for the May 24, primary election, three days after the festival, will be riding in the parade, as well as visiting at the festival, according to Bailey.
Hamner Park will open to the public at 8 a.m. for the festival , which will last until around 3 p.m.
Car show expanded
The car show, which is being moved to the soccer field, will have hopefully 100 to 120 entries, more than last year’s 80 to 90 entries, noted car show organizer Paula Fullington.
The car show this year will be held in a space measuring 200X240, Fullington said.
Pre-registration is currently underway, either by mailing entry form to Arley Women’s Club, P.O. Box 15, Arley, Al. 35541, going online at arleywomensclub.org or register the day of show, Fullington said.
“We’d like to close registration at 9 o’clock,” she said.
A $20 donation is being encouraged for each car show entry, she added. For more information, contact Fullington at 615-943-6816.
The car show will begin at 8:30 a.m. after the parade, with cash prizes to be given out every half hour, Fullington stated.
The main prizes, including $500 for Best of Show and $250 for People’s Choice, will be presented after the show ends at 2 p.m. at the main stage area, she added.
Live entertainment, activities also
Live entertainment will be on the main stage starting at 9 a.m. and will go throughout the festival, according to organizers.
This year, Toddler Town, providing games and activities for smaller children, is expanding and will be located behind the concession stand.
On the Hamner Park ball fields will be water rides. Parents are encouraged to have a towel or extra set of dry clothes for their child due to the likelihood those on the rides getting wet, organizers said.
A mechanical bull ride is being added this year, to coincide with the return of such favorites as bungee bounce and swings.
Mason Family Farms will also be on hand to provide horse and pony rides.
Family friendly activities are also being planned along the walking trail at the park.
“We’re trying to bring more interest to the walking trails this year,” Bailey pointed out. “We’re trying to make better use of the entire park.”
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.