The first Fultondale Founders Day festival was held in 1997, but the history the festival celebrates goes back much, much further.
The city of Fultondale was originally known as Fulton Springs, and was a mining town in the early 20th century. It was eventually incorporated into Jefferson County as a municipality in 1947, complete with a mayor and five city council members. The first council bought the city’s first fire engine and built a city hall where the Municipal City Park is now. The city also once had a city recreation center with the only municipal pool in north Jefferson County.
Before Interstate 65 was built in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Hwy. 31 was the primary way travelers from Birmingham traveled northward, and hotels in the city prospered. When the interstate was finally completed, a drive-in movie theater in the city was torn down.
The current mayor, Jim Lowery, is the city's seventh mayor in 50 years. Lowery also started the Founders Day tradition, and the city buried a time capsule in city hall during the first celebration. It will be opened in 2047, the 50th anniversary of Founders Day. A plaque commemorating the time capsule can be seen beside the front door of city hall, and the capsule itself is located directly behind it in the building's wall. The time capsule contains odds and ends, like a baseball and a copy of the city’s incorporation documents from 1947.
Lowery said former mayor Robert Belcher, who served the city for about 20 years, was instrumental in modernizing Fultondale. As mines began to come up dry, so did wells around the city and in neighboring Gardendale and Fieldstown. Belcher and other city officials came up with plans for a water and gas system that also serviced its neighboring communities, allowing them to grow from mostly farmland to blossoming cities. Lowery said Belcher’s original system eventually became present-day Fultondale Gas Board.