Isn’t it about time Tuscaloosa had its own music festival? For a town so full of youth, talent and a healthy love for the arts, a unifying celebration was bound to emerge.
Yellowhammer is a trial run for a full-scale eco-friendly music festival, and the inaugural event on April 19 promises crafts, snacks and a talented lineup of local bands, all in the springtime oasis of the University of Alabama Arboretum.
“We’ve been using the hashtag ‘#GoodVibes’ on everything,” said Ben Tomlin, a student leader for the project. “The main thing we want is people to come and have a good time, and we have our fingers crossed for beautiful weather.”
The Yellowhammer Festival will be orchestrated by Creative Campus, an arts advocacy group at the university. Rachel Raimist, the group’s co-director, said a big advantage of starting out smaller is that they can test run all the logistics and spot any speed bumps.
“What does it sound like at the arboretum? Does the sound work?” Raimist said. “Will people show up? We need to know these things before we go forward with something bigger.”
If the social media response is any indicator, people will indeed show up. The Facebook page for Yellowhammer had over 300 likes within 24 hours of being posted and shared by partner groups.
A big draw, of course, will be the music. The Doctors and the Lawyers, the beating heart of Tuscaloosa’s rock scene, is set to play along with Lake Lyon, Agent Honeydew and an improv group called Off the Top.
“I truly believe we have some of the most talented bands in the state,” said Alyx Chandler, another Creative Campus intern and frequent Planet Weekly contributing writer. “They just don’t have a big enough audience, venue or festival for them to perform at to get their name out there.”
Raimist said this event has been an itch the interns have had for years, and it’s a relief to finally scratch it.
“I interviewed over a hundred applicants for Creative Campus next semester, and the number one thing they said when we asked what kind of event they would like to do is ‘music festival!,’” Raimist said. “It’s hard to imagine how many moving pieces are involved. And the cost is a big factor for any music festival.”
While interested music-lovers enjoy the show, they can hula-hoop, get a henna tattoo or cool off with a Steel City Pop. They can pick up a “seed bomb” to spread flowers in their neighborhood or get their face painted with the Yellowhammer logo.
“Also, our festival is totally dog friendly!” Chandler added.
Along with the goal to get the community out and exploring the arboretum, the Creative Campus arts coordinator Michelle Bordner said she hopes Yellowhammer can celebrate Earth Day with sustainability in mind.
“It seems the best we can all do is try to be more aware of the footprint we are leaving behind and maximize our efforts to reduce our own wastefulness,” The hope is that this festival can raise awareness of the need for more sustainable efforts while also creating a creative and enjoyable environment to spend the afternoon.”
Chandler said the eco-friendly aspect of the festival is important to the goal of making it even bigger in the future without leaving a negative mark on Tuscaloosa’s natural resources.
“Sustainability is hugely popular right now,” Chandler said. “In student groups, whole cities, households, even in some parts of the government! This is a fabulous time to kick off Tuscaloosa’s local sustainability scene, and not to mention music scene.”
One reminder of our daily waste will be the coffee K-cups that offer a quick and easy cup of coffee, but leave a dangerous trail of plastic containers.
“With the K-cups, the end goal is to focus on being able to give out ‘planters,’ which will be a cleaned out, used K-cup that people will be given a seed, dirt and directions how to keep their plant alive and eventually transfer into a bigger container,” Chandler said. “People will also be given the chance to paint the outside of it.”
Tomlin said a lot of the festival’s partners also promote sustainability, like Homegrown Alabama, Sassafras Center for Arts and Environment, UA Recycling, and Tide for Tusks.
“We’ve been working really hard and I’m just excited for it to happen,” Tomlin said. “It’s going to be a great festival atmosphere and just good times all around.”
Raimist said on top of being a great event for Tuscaloosa, the Creative Campus interns have the opportunity to build valuable skills like budgeting and reaching out to other organizations.
“We’re here helping to push, helping to pull, and tapping you on the shoulder saying, ‘Did you think about this?’ or ‘How are you going to deal with this?’” Raimist said. “It can kind of look like when you have your foot on the brake and the gas at the same time . . . We help them lay off the brake and get moving.”
If this is the first you are hearing about Yellowhammer, you will probably be caught in the media blitz in the coming days, with ads on posters, campus TVs and all over social media trying to spread the word. The Creative Campus interns even did a photoshoot in their best “hippie” outfits so they would have plenty of content to avoid oversaturating their friends’ newsfeeds with the same logo for two weeks.
“If the community comes out and supports this, we can really take it to the next level,” Raimist said. “We can’t do that unless we can demonstrate there is an interest.”
Chandler said right now she is just looking forward to seeing it all come together.
“I am super excited just to have a sunny, beautiful afternoon appreciating one of the coolest nature places in T-town,” Chandler said.
The Yellowhammer Festival will be held on April 19 at the UA Arboretum from 1 – 5 p.m.

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