By Alli Hill
Alabama is a dream when it comes to soaking up everything the great outdoors has to offer. That’s where outdoor festivals come in. From build-your-own boat celebrations in the summer to events dedicated entirely to local birds, Alabama has all of the bases covered. Here are the best outdoor festivals in the state!
Happening at the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is one of the best family-friendly events of the summer. This July, you can enjoy balsa wood boat races and build-your-own-boat races that send your fancy creations down the river through beautiful natural scenery. You can also expect plenty of food, games, a kid’s zone, and ice cream. Proceeds directly benefit the preserve’s environmental efforts. City of Pinson is a proud sponsor of this event.
Sponsored by Gadsden-Etowah Habitat for Humanity, this thrilling dragon boat race is a sight to behold. Paddlers board brilliantly colored Chinese-style dragon boats and embark on a wet and wild journey across the Coosa River. This high-profile event helps to provide housing through Habitat of Humanity, and has attracted major sponsors like Exchange Bank, Alfa Insurance , Riverview Regional Medical Center, and The Gadsden Times, to name a slight few.
This mega bird festival has been a favorite of locals and tourists for over 14 years and counting. The locale offers a prime viewing spot for fall migration, and there will plenty of guides on hand to take you to the best spots. Workshops, land and water tours (some include more than just birds!), speakers, and an expo round out the event to give you an up-close look at some of Alabama’s seasonal visitors. The expo is free to attend thanks to sponsors like the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation, Coastal Alabama Community College, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and more. You can also pay for a guided tour.
You might need to look twice to know that’s not a real dragon in the water. Bringing the ancient Chinese sport of dragon boat racing to Alabama, this August festival will have you on the edge of your seat, whether you’re in the boat or on dry land. New this year is the first ever SUP CUP, a stand-up paddle boarding competition that’s the only one of its kind in the state. It’s going down on the Alabama River, and you’ll be glad you didn’t miss it! A special thanks to Vulcan Value Partners, Auburn University at Montgomery, and Baptist Health for sponsoring this year’s festival.