By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
Organizers are gearing up for the largest event in north Jefferson County.
The 12th annual Gardendale Magnolia Festival is May 3-4 at the Gardendale Civic Center.
This year the festival has expanded to include the first Lima Foxtrot 5K run and half-mile fun run, set for April 27.
The run will feature Noah Galloway, a double amputee who lives in Alabaster. Galloway lost an arm and a leg while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq in 2005.
He is now a member of TEAM X-T.R.E.M.E athletics, and travels across the nation as an inspirational speaker.
The Lima Foxtrot run will benefit the Lakeshore Foundation, a sports and recreation facility in Birmingham for severely injured individuals.
The top winner in the men’s and women’s categories will receive $100 each.
The following weekend brings the festival itself, which features 200 business and arts and crafts vendors, a classic car show, carnival rides, the Pooch Parade, silent auction and free art classes.
And, of course, there will be plenty of food vendors on hand.
The popular Bud’s Best cookie-eating contest is on the schedule again, along with two new eating contests sponsored by Hamburger Heaven and Buffalo Wild Wings.
Another big draw to the festival is music, which will provide entertainment continually on three stages.
The entertainment includes Rollin in the Hay and other musicians, local school and church choirs, dancers and more.
Each year, the festival supports two charities, according to organizer Kathleen Phillips. This year’s proceeds will support Alabama Teen Challenge and the North Jefferson Women’s Center.
In addition, festival proceeds fund college scholarships for numerous students in the north Jefferson area.
The festival is May 3, 5-10 p.m., and May 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit www.magnoliafestival.org