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Start your engines! An antique tractor show will give Depot Days attendees the chance to see almost 75 tractors and watch them perform competitively in several games.
Courtesy photo
Start your engines! An antique tractor show will give Depot Days attendees the chance to see almost 75 tractors and watch them perform competitively in several games.

Depot Days brings back street dance, adds new act: Mr. Puppet
Tractors, live music at Hartselle festival

By Danielle Komis Palmer
dpalmer@decaturdaily.com · 340-2447

What do you get when you cross a talking puppet, a sword swallower and a 5K run?

The answer will lead you to Hartselle’s 27th annual Depot Days festival, which attracts 16,000 to 18,00 people each year.

While the big day of Depot Days is Saturday, the festival kicks off Sunday night with a community worship service at First United Methodist Church at 6:30 at 210 Hickory St. S.E. in Hartselle.

Brewer High School coach Billy Coleman will be the guest speaker at the service. Coleman is the author of “Called to Live” and “He Always Holds Up the Heavy End.”

While the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack show won’t be at Depot Days this year, Saturday’s packed list of activities will still shut down downtown Hartselle — new acts range from a talking puppet to a sword swallower.

Mr. Puppet (whose real name is Bob Abdou) is from Austin, Texas, and performs his vaudeville variety show across the region.

Halfdan the Sword Swallower (Dan Meyer) is a Hartselle native who, along with selling cars for a living, also swallows swords. He is estimated to be one of only about a dozen sword swallowers in the world, and he recently became the first person in America to swallow a sword while underwater.

Street dance returns

After a long hiatus, Depot Days will feature an evening concert and street dance this year

“We haven’t had one of those in years,” said Susan Hines, president of the Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the annual event. “We just want to make Depot Days last as long as we can.”

Starting at 7:30 p.m., local band Natchez Trace will perform country classics as well as 1960s and 1970s rock ’n’ roll. Natchez Trace has opened for Alabama, Tammy Wynette, The Judds and Montgomery Gentry. The band has also headlined at local venues like the Morgan County Fair, Alabama Jubilee, the Princess Theatre and Riverfest.

Along with Natchez Trace, the 151st Army National Guard Band of Montgomery will also provide musical entertainment. The band, which consists of 43 members from across the state, plays big band, patriotic and jazz music.

Arts, crafts and tractors

Along with music, Depot Days offers other activities. Attendees can shop at the more than 100 arts and crafts vendors, or check out the hundreds of vehicles at the Jimmy Smith Jewelers Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show.

An antique tractor show will also give Depot Days attendees the chance to see almost 75 tractors and watch them perform competitively in several games.

For children (and for adults who need a break from their little ones) a children’s area at the festival will feature a 24-inch super slide, obstacle course, mechanical rides, pony rides and other carnival type games.

For runners, a 5K run will start at 8 a.m. Saturday (same day registration at 7:30) and a one-mile fun run for children under 12 will start at 9 a.m. (8:45 a.m. registration). Race applications are available at www.hartsellechamber.com.

Weeknight activities

If you’re looking for something to fill up the weeknights, Depot Days also offers a few events before Saturday.

On Monday, the Hartselle Historical Society’s “Down Memory Lane” event at the Hartselle Fine Arts Center will feature Hartselle civic clubs, especially the Hartselle Rotary Club, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Displays open at 6:30.

On Tuesday, the Depot Days Golf Classic will take place at Quail Creek Golf Course at Quail Creek Drive in Hartselle at 1:30, with lunch starting at noon. Registration for a four-man team is $400, and teams may register the day of the classic.

On Thursday evening, the Hartselle High School choral department will perform its first concert of the school year at 6:30 p.m. at E.A.R.T.H Park in Hartselle.

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