Leeds serves as new host of iconic Whistle Stop Festival

Whistle Stop Festival relocates to Leeds, leaving Irondale after 27 years.

The Shops of Grand River may not have the whistle of a train nearby, but it has taken over as host of this year’s Whistle Stop Festival that is Sept. 29 at the Coyote Drive-In by the outlets.
The Whistle Stop Festival started out in Irondale 27 years ago by the train tracks and the Irondale Café that was called the Whistle Stop Café in the renowned book and movie Fried Green Tomatoes.
The new location in Leeds may be a major change in scenery for the festival, but Chairman Christopher Crews said they had no choice: it was move to a new location or shut down the festival all together.
“Moving may have made it lose some of its romance, but we weren’t going to let it die,” Crews said.
The City of Irondale has had financial struggles, especially since the Sam’s Club closed, and had to scale back on funding many things, Crews said. Whistle Stop Festival, at a cost of $12,000 a year, was one of them.
With 100 vendors and thousands of attendees, the City of Leeds stepped in to bring it to the Shops of Grand River and gave a donation of $6,000.
The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature art, food, live music and Disney and Star Wars characters for the kids.
American Idol finalist and country music singer Jess Meuse is the headliner for the festival. Meuse is from Slapout, Ala., and was a top 4 finalist in season 13 of American Idol and a contestant on The Voice.

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