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Fact #1: It exists! The Okra Festival is held annually, the last weekend in August, in Burkville, Lowndes County, AL about 20 miles west of Montgomery. When I heard about it, I had to go, as fresh okra is one of my favorite things and the festival rated as one of the top things to do in August in Alabama, other than drink iced tea and sit under a fan.
Beautiful Burkville boasts 4 paved roads – more than any other town in Lowndes County – largely due to the popularity of the Okra Festival. The Festival was founded to celebrate the local African American culture and has grown to become a significant event featuring area artists and farmers.
Fact #2: Annie Mae’s Art Place is at the center of the action. A small, 90 year old shotgun house filled with stunning brightly colored folk art by Annie Mae herself, is the main gathering spot. Here’s a shot of the outside wall adorned with old car tags:
The Inside hallway is lined with art and messages about the historical civil rights struggle that nearby Selma is so well known for.
I had never seen paper made from okra, but what the heck? Cutting Okra must be more sustainable than chopping down trees, even if you suffer a little ‘okra stalk burn’ from doing so.
Fact #3: There’s a lot more going on here than selling okra. Lowndes County is one of the poorest in Alabama with per capita income at $16,524 and Median household income: $29,714. Source here. While the Okra Festival was a bit of a drive from Birmingham (1 1/2 hrs) and about 20 minutes from Montgomery, it gave me a glimpse of what life here is like. In some ways, Lowndes County is so close, but so far away.
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