By Nathan Prewett, For the Tribune
PINSON – The leaves are beginning to change and fall, marking the return of the autumn season, as well as a staple of the town of Pinson: the Alabama Butterbean Festival, which is slated for Oct. 6 and 7 on Main Street.
The idea for the festival originated in 2006 when the operators of the Palmerdale Homesteads Community Center wanted to raise money to renovate Palmerdale School.
Several years later, the Clay-Pinson Chamber of Commerce took the reins and since then the annual event has been raising funds for the city’s nonprofits and schools, including the feeder pattern at Pinson Valley High School.
“Those schools are given the large majority of the grants,” said the festival’s executive director, Ronnie Dixon.
They also raise money for Jimmy Hale Mission, Jessie’s Place and Solid Rock Church, as well as others within Pinson that apply.
Alabama Butterbean Festival has grown to be one of the largest gatherings of the state, considered by the Alabama State Tourism Board to be the second largest and even setting a Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 with a pot that held 1,010 gallons of butterbeans.
And it’s only gotten bigger.
“I think that, lately, the biggest thing is in (2020 and 2021) we didn’t stop the festival for COVID,” he said. “We had it both years and had outstanding crowds.”
Dixon said that last year there was a record 45,000 people estimated to be in attendance and he expects that the upcoming event will exceed that number, weather permitting.
The number of vendors has also grown, with more than 100 registered for the 2023 occasion. Electric lighting is now available, allowing vendors’ booths to stay into the later hours. Vendor booths feature local churches and clubs, food, clothing, and arts and crafts products.
The features of this year’s event are largely unchanged, but the lineup includes a Kid’s Corner for children’s activities that includes a petting zoo, the Alabama Butterbean Festival 5K presented by Food Giant Pinson, a pet parade by Sanitary Rug Cleaners, a carnival, a stage for live music and the fireworks display, which will be increased by six minutes.
“This is our 18th year,” said Dixon. “And the things that have remained consistent are there is free parking, free entertainment – 14 hours of entertainment over the two days and all that is free – free admission. And then, of course, there are all the vendors that you can just walk and shop or you can start doing early Christmas shopping. But if you just want to spend a Saturday afternoon or a nice evening on Friday night and then see an outstanding fireworks show, then you don’t really have to spend a dime.”
Signup for the 5K can be done at this link. Registration ends on Oct. 6.
Armbands are $20 each and tickets are $1 each or $10 for 12. The festival will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Oct. 6, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 7.
Nathan Prewett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.