ARLEY - The Town of Arley will soon be filled with thousands of visitors for the 46th annual Arley Day festival.
The event will be Saturday, May 18, with a line up of events sure to please--all sponsored by the Arley Women’s Club.
Vendors must be set up by 8 a.m., with the festival starting at 8:30 a.m.
Early birds to the festival can come to a free pancake breakfast sponsored by Arley First Baptist Church, starting at 7 a.m. at the Arley Fire Station, located across County Road 77 from Hamner Park, where a majority of the festival’s events will be held later that day.
“A lot of vendors go to the breakfast. Of course our women’s club members start very early in the day, so we try to get a breakfast, too,” noted Beth Sargent, publicity chairwoman for the Arley Women’s Club.
Parade line up will be at 8 a.m. in the parking area of Dollar General and Southern Roots Fashion on County Road 41.
The parade will travel through the town, turning right at Traditions Bank onto County Road 77 leading to Hamner Park.
Those interested in being in the parade can visit the Arley Day 2019 Facebook page or the Arley Women’s Club Facebook page for general information about the parade and festival. The parade organizer is AWC Member Beth McLarty.
The annual car show features antique to modern styles of vehicles. Last year, the show featured around 60 entries, the most in the history of the festival, and organizers hope to have even more this year.
Applications for car show entries can also be found on the Arley Day 2019 Facebook page. Organizers encourage a $20 donation per vehicle, instead of a strict entry fee.
Vendor applications are available on both Facebook pages, Sargent said. Vendor applications are also available on the Northwest Alabamian’s website, mynwapaper.com, along with a list of rules for vendors.
Vendors can request to be either in the Hamner Park parking lot - which is open and flat - or inside the park along the trails, where there is shade, a relief during the hot temperatures that often begin in May.
“We usually have about 60 vendors,” stressed Sargent. This includes a variety of vendors, who pay $35 for a 10X10 spot. There is no electricity for these spots, according to organizers.
The deadline for regular vendor applications, not counting food vendors, is May 8, after which time a $10 late fee will be added. The final cutoff date for applications is May 15.
The fee for food vendors is $50, due no later than May 8. A great variety of food vendors are expected at the festival this year, Sargent emphasized.
New attractions to the festival this year will be carnival-type rides provided by one of the top companies in the state.
“It will kind of be like a fairground,” Sargent said. “It will be exciting for a large array of age groups.”
These attractions will include a pirate ship, multiple water slides or features - one being 24 feet tall - an obstacle water slide, skeet ball, spin art, a duck pond and even a bungee trampoline and dunk tank, noted games committee organizer Gail Pisani.
“You purchase a bracelet this time. We’re doing bracelets instead of tickets for rides,” Pisani said.
These bracelets will be $10 for the game and carnival section for as many rides as the purchaser choose. The bungee trampoline fee is a separate $10 for unlimited jumps, she added.
“We though this would be something older elementary, middle school and high school kids would like,” Pisani added.
Another attraction new to the festival this year will be a live deejay, replacing the live bands and entertainment at the stage area of the festival near the ball fields, organizers said.
Belinda Rahal, chairperson for sponsorship, is excited to announce a new level of sponsorship to the festival this year.
“They have really come to the plate for the community..to help us out this year,” Rahal stated about Arley Day’s sponsors.
Diamond Partner sponsors, or those who have each contributed $1,000, include ARC Realty of Smith Lake, Traditions Bank, Son’s of Arley and Honda and Hyundai of Jasper.
The other three levels of sponsorships include Diamond at $500, Granite at $100-$500 and Marble for anything under $100.
“We have to have them to put this (festival) on or we couldn’t do it,” Rahal said.
The festival annually features drawings for nice gift items. Tickets will be drawn between 1- 2 p.m. for the 2019 handmade quilt created by Helen Fleetwood, who has provided a handcrafted quilt to the AWC to raffle. Most everyone looks forward to the drawing for the Big Green Egg, a cooker complete with utensils and an assessory package provided by the AWC. That drawing will also be held between 1-2 p.m., members said. The winner does not have to be present to win.
Drawings for the quilt and cooker have each brought in around $2,000 through the years, according to women’s club members.
The festival brings in an average of $10,000 in profit, which goes a long way to help the community in a variety of ways.
“The money we earn through this fundraiser goes to our general fund, which covers our contribution and support to the community year round,” Sargent pointed out.
One of the largest recipients of these funds is the AWC Scholarship Fund, which began in 2008 with $1,000 given out to Meek High School students. The fund has grown yearly, and last year, $7,500 in scholarships was awarded to MHS students.
“Arley Day is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Sargent.
Through the years, the AWC has also made improvements by having picnic pavilions and tables constructed at Hamner Park, as well as worked tirelessly to get the Arley Public Library to the level of excellence it has achieved today. The AWC also makes significant donations to the Arley and Helicon fire departments, members stated.
“We try to help as many as we can with what we have to give out,“ Rahal said.
The Arley Day festival each year may be hard work, but it is a labor of love, AWC members will be the first tell.
“It’s very gratifying to see how so many women bring all their talents and various skills to the table and have fun doing it,” Sargent said about the Arley Women’s Club. “We are happy and pleased that it’s profitable, where we can put money back into the community. But what is really great is the friendship and the fellowship.”
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.