Family Fun Under the Shade Trees of Red Bay

The Tammy Wynette exhibit at the Red Bay Museum. Photo by Scotty Kennedy

Tammy Wynette, the great country singer most famous for the ballad “Stand by Your Man,” is one of the reasons to be in Red Bay, Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 21.

Wynette is the subject of one of the many exhibits you’ll find in the Red Bay Museum, one of the attractions that will be open for the Red Bay Founder’s Festival.

Located in Franklin County, in northwest Alabama, Red Bay is a small town worthy of a Fannie Flagg novel.

Like the fictional Whistle Stop, Red Bay’s birth and history are hitched to the railroad. The town was incorporated in 1907, the year it was named as a stop on a branch of the Illinois Central Railroad. Located between Birmingham and Memphis, Red Bay became a lumber and shipping center.

About one mile from the Alabama-Mississippi state line, Red Bay was the bigger city that Tammy Wynette said she looked forward to visiting from her hometown, just across the line, of Tremont, Mississippi. She came to visit relatives and to go to the picture show, and she was once featured in a downtown Red Bay parade.

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Free family fun is the order of the day, under the shade trees of Bay Tree Park. The town gets its name from a stand of red bay trees.

Red Bay’s heritage day features arts and crafts, sidewalk sales and live music. Activities kick off at 8:30 a.m., with the King and Queen’s Train Ride, featuring winners of the beauty pageant held Sept. 15 at Red Bay High School. At 9 a.m., live music cranks up followed by a contest in the gazebo to see who has the best fried pie. Entries with the best tasting, most unusual and best of show will take home a cash prize. Additional contests for festivalgoers to participate in include a buck dancing contest, quilt contest, coloring contest and a photography contest.

The Red Bay Museum will be open for tours and for viewing of Making Alabama, a bicentennial traveling exhibit. Permanent exhibits — besides the second floor full of Tammy Wynette memorabilia — include original fixtures from the city’s first bank and a soda fountain, including the counter from an early drug store.

Founder’s Fest this year also offers an antique car-truck-motorcycle-tractor show. Many of the merchants will offer sidewalk sales, specials and door prizes throughout the day. Prizes will be awarded to the largest family, longest distance traveled to the event, and youngest and oldest attendees.

Bay Tree Park is located near 2nd Street in downtown Red Bay. Festival hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call Tracie Clark at 256-356-4473 ext. 3.

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