LEIGHTON – Clocking in at one square mile in size and a population of 665 in the 2020 census, the tiny town of Leighton leaves a big footprint.
City leadership, led by Mayor Derick Silcox, wanted a way to celebrate all that Leighton has produced. Thus, they created Sledgefest, a music festival named after award-winning R&B, soul, and gospel singer, Percy Sledge. Sledge’s biggest hit, “When a Man Loves a Woman”, rocketed him into fame in 1966, giving his hometown of Leighton a little piece of the pie as well.
Last year, the inaugural Sledgefest was part of the WC Handy Music Festival, a series of concerts taking place across The Shoals. Debby Bradford, the town’s Project and Event Consultant, said, “We didn’t know what to expect with it being our first year, and we ended up having over 1000 people.”
Needless to say, Sledgefest was a success.
This year, Sledgefest will be a stand-alone music festival taking place Saturday. The festival is free to attend, and will feature, starting at 1 p.m.: Deak Harp & Quicksand, Studio Code 502, CC Jags, and Coffee Black.
Appropriately, the closing act at 8:30 is Percy Sledge’s son’s band, Howell Sledge & The Revue. The night’s program will conclude with fireworks.
The stage will be in the middle of Main Street, and food vendors and children’s activities will be available on site all day. The town’s local art galleries will be open downtown during the festival, and The Leighton Museum will be open 1-5 p.m.
The Leighton Museum is inside Bank Independent’s flagship branch, and it tells the history of the town including local Native American pieces, Civil War and World War I memorabilia and features priceless artifacts including Percy Sledge’s signature blue coat.
The museum also includes items from Jimmy Hughes, a musician and resident of Leighton who helped put Muscle Shoals’ FAME Recording Studios on the map. Sports fans will enjoy viewing paraphernalia from Ed West “The Toolbox”, an NFL player from Leighton, NBA players Leon and John Douglas, and NFL Hall of Famer and former Alabama star Ozzie Newsome. Proof that big footprints come from Leighton – literally and figuratively.
Sledgefest festivities have been extended to ehance the celebration. The Leighton Public Library was recently renovated and will host its grand opening Thursday from 5-7 p.m.
On Friday, the Senior Center hosts “Singing with Seniors” at 10 a.m. which will include cupcakes, lemonade, and Percy Sledge-style music.
The Friday festivities continue at 11 a.m. when town dedicates its outdoor classroom with the help of the Alabama Forestry Commission and Smokey Bear. The Leighton Police Department will be handing out popsicles at Fennell Park at 2:30 where children can play on the new playground equipment.
Article courtesy of SoulGrown, featuring the best of Alabama lifestyle and culture.