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W.C. Handy Music Festival

Live Music

W.C. Handy Music Festival 2020!

May 13, 2020 – The Music Preservation Society, Inc., and the W.C. Handy Festival Steering Committee announce its 39th WC Handy Music Festival. There will be some changes to the annual Festival, which is scheduled to take place July 17-26, 2020, throughout northwest Alabama. The W.C. Handy Festival is presented each year to honor the memory of Florence native musician W.C. Handy, known internationally as "The Father of the Blues", and to pay tribute to the legacy and contributions of Shoals area music.

Due to the concerns raised by the Coronavirus, some events will not occur during this year’s Festival, while others will be revamped in an effort to present as safe an environment as possible. Meteorologists have anticipated that temperatures this summer will be hotter than average, and some health experts predict that heat can assist in slowing the spread of the virus. While this is encouraging, Festival organizers will continue to monitor and adhere to recommendations from officials as plans are made. The Handy Festival Steering Committee will follow guidelines to help ensure a safe Festival and will make adjustments as needed. All Festival attendees will be asked to adhere to recommended social distancing guidelines, and personnel will be on site to assist when needed.

With the social distancing restrictions made necessary by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Music Preservation Society, Inc. (MPS) Board of Directors did not hold a physical meeting to select a design. This year’s Handy design, which was donated to the Festival by past design competition winner Carl Brackin, Jr., was overwhelmingly approved by MPS Board members via email. The reaction by board members was positive, and MPS thanks Mr. Brackin for his generosity in sharing his craft.

The annual W.C. Handy Festival design is featured on the front of the 2020 T-shirts, posters, brochures, and other marketing materials. The MPS Board and the Handy Festival Steering Committee appreciate the City of Florence for continuing its tradition of hosting Handy Headquarters as it has since the Handy Festival began holding annual activities in 1982, and look forward to many more years of partnership. Due to renovations, Handy HQ will again be located in the Southall-Moore House, 215 East Tuscaloosa Street, across from Wilson Park in Florence. Shirts, posters, and other concession items will be available for purchase at before Handy Headquarters opens for business. For information about the schedule about the W.C. Handy Festival, visit the website, find the Festival on Facebook, or call the MPS office at 256-766-7642.
Da Doo Run Run Cancelled

Given the evolving public health situation and potential spread of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 "W.C. Handy Festival Da Doo Run Run 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run" originally scheduled for July 25, 2020. We are saddened that we won’t be able to host our favorite running event of the year in the Florence-Shoals area. Please know that this decision was not made lightly, but we must put the health and well-being of our community first. We appreciate your understanding in advance.

We aim to make the 2021 "W.C. Handy Festival Da Doo Run Run 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run" bigger and better than ever.

Look forward to seeing everyone back in 2021!

Glenn Wheeler

Ages Event is Appropriate For

Appropriate for all ages

Each year in July, the city of Florence and the Shoals area pay tribute to the “Father of the Blues” and Florence-native W.C. Handy with a ten day family-friendly festival. The W.C. Handy Music Festival offers a variety of events including live musical performances, street parties, art exhibits, and more.

Over 200 activities and musical events are planned for the W.C. Handy Music Festival with activities taking place each day and night during the ten-day festival. Activities include a street strut and parade, songwriter showcases, a car and truck show, a three-state bike ride, and great jazz and Blues music featuring popular local performers can be heard throughout the Shoals at local eateries, malls, parks and other establishments.

W. C. Handy presented to the world the sounds of rhythm-and-blues, jazz, and soul with famous tunes such as “St. Louis Blues,” “Memphis Blues,” and “Beale Street Blues”. He was born in Florence, Alabama on November 16, 1873. Today, his home located at 620 West College Street is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday for tours.


Admission varies per event