The old railroad station in Weaver is long gone but the effect it had on the local community will be celebrated this Saturday during the annual Weaver Station Heritage Day.
Carla Nunnelly Williams, co-chairwoman of the Spirit of Weaver and an organizer of the event, said that the last time a train rumbled through town was in the mid-1980s. According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, the Rome and Dalton Railroad built the first railroad through Weaver in 1868.
During the 1990s, after the railroad was abandoned, the unused tracks were turned into a rails-to-trails project, part of the Chief Ladiga Trail.
According to Williams, at one time Weaver had three cotton gins, a dormitory school and a train that delivered and picked up the mail.
Weaver was eventually incorporated as a city in 1945, according to Williams.
Aletha Young, the other co-chairwoman of the Spirit of Weaver, said Heritage Day actually began around 1982, organized by people who wanted to celebrate the city and its history.
Young said the first Heritage Day included an egg-toss, high school bands, a jazz band and a horseshoe-pitching contest.
“It was like a little community event,” said Young.
Over the last decade the event has grown, according to Young; this Saturday’s event will feature 97 crafts vendors, 12 food vendors and 11 display booths. Some of the offerings from the vendors on Saturday include jewelry, pottery, metal works and “the guy who makes the windmills out of cans.”
“This Heritage Day everybody can get together and just have a fun, free day at the park,” said Young.
“It’s just a way for everybody to meet each other. You can actually sit at the gate and meet people you’ve never met even though you’ve lived here 20 years,” said Young.
Young estimates that between 2,000 and 3,000 people attended last year’s Heritage Day.
The Heritage Day will feature:
— Live music beginning at 9 a.m. with Jay & Charles Davis. Other acts scheduled to perform are Jonathan East, Mark & Robby and Dwight and Tyrone.
— The Anniston Museum of Natural History will have an animal show
— Petting zoo
— Animal adoptions by PAWS
— Pancake breakfast fundraiser for the Weaver Fire Department from 5-9 a.m. or until the batter runs out
Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis said by phone on Thursday that Heritage Day is more than just a craft show.
“It is something that people put on their calendars every year and it seems like every year it gets a little bit bigger,” said Willis.
Willis said that the event brings interest, revenue and possibly new residents into the city.
“Anytime you have people from out of town come into your city it’s going to be a positive,” Willis said.
Willis praised Young and Williams for their volunteering efforts to make the Heritage Day a success.
“That’s how you know you have a solid community, is when you have people that volunteer. They’re not being paid and yet they come in and dedicate time, effort and resources to make an event happen. I want to give all the credit to Aletha and Carla,” said Willis.
Members of the Weaver Lions Club will volunteer to help direct people to the park and where to park.