For 13 years, the Sylacauga Marble Festival has showcased Alabama’s pure white marble at Blue Bell Park. During the festival, sculptors from around the country and world come together for 11 straight days of marble carving and fellowship. This year, the festival, sponsored by AM3 Stone, is back, and it’s taking place from April 6-April 17. We reached out to sculptor Craigger Browne and festival founder Ted Spears to learn more.
What the Sylacauga Marble Festival is
- 11-day festival for sculptors and the public, featuring non-competitive marble carving.
- Sculptors from all over the country (30-40 in a non-COVID year) come and carve a piece they leave in the library. AM3 Stone supplies a small block of marble for each sculptor.
- Sculptors sell three pieces of their work in a sales room each day of the festival.
- In non-COVID years, a master carver from Pietrasanta, Italy, home of the famous Carrara Marble Mines, would attend the festival. 13 years ago, Sylacauga and Pietrasanta signed a pact of friendship based on the two cities’ white marble.
According to Vestavia-based sculptor Craigger Browne, the festival is a “great way to showcase this amazing stone we have here—the whitest, purest marble in the world.”
When + where it is
The Sylacauga Marble Festivalalways begins the first Tuesday in April, with 2021 marking its 13th year.
- April 6-17, 2021, 9AM-4PM each day
- April 9 Bill Cook Symposium, by appointment only | call Ted Spears at 256.267.6655 to reserve a spot
- Location: B.B. Comer Memorial Library, 314 North Broadway Avenue, Sylacauga AL 35150 and Blue Bell Park, 436-498 N Norton Ave, Sylacauga, AL 35150
- Social: Facebook | Instagram
Who’s the Sylacauga Marble Festival is for + who will be there
- Sculptors, including Bill Cook. Cook is a Knoxville, Tennessee-based sculptor renowned throughout the Southeast, will hold a symposium during the festival where he will show slides of some of his sculptures, discuss carving techniques and host a Q&A session.
- The festival is open to the public, child-friendly + sensory-friendly (for example, people who cannot see are welcome to touch the sculptures).
What you’ll find at the Sylacauga Marble Festival
- Tours of the B.B. Comer Memorial Library, where you can see displays explaining the thousands of industrial applications of this marble.
- An observation point overlooking the original quarry where the marble for Giuseppe Moretti’s famous Head of Christ sculpture came from.
- New busts of Moretti (by Frank Murphy) and Geneva Mercer (by Craigger Browne), commemorating two Alabama-based sculptors who brought out the best of Sylacauga marble.
- Bill Cook, a Knoxville, Tennessee-based sculptor renowned throughout the Southeast, will be holding a symposium where he shows some of his sculptures, discusses carving techniques and hosts a Q&A session.
- Scavenger hunt for children and adults. Using pictures as clues, participants identify areas where marble exists (public buildings, graveyards, museums, libraries, churches, etc.—any other places where Sylacauga marble was used in construction, in the arts, in industry or whatever) and people who identify the largest number get a prize.
- In non-COVID years, AM3 Stone provided tours of the quarry. Sadly this won’t happen this year, but hopefully in 2022!
The Marble Festival plans to follow CDC guidelines, including having visitors wear masks and practice social distancing.
Why the Sylacauga Marble Festival matters
The Sylacauga Marble Festival has been a beloved tradition for thirteen years. This year’s festival marks the festival’s return after a one-year break due to COVID. While it won’t have all the features of previous years, there will be sculptors to watch, library tours to take and a chance to get out and learn about this beautiful Alabama white marble that has found its way into everything from museums to cars, diapers and calcium-enriched bread.
Make your plans now to head down to the Sylacauga Marble Festival taking place Tuesday, April 6 through Saturday, April 17.