SYLACAUGA – The ninth Magic of Marble Festival is just weeks away and is shaping up to be the best one yet. The festival will be April 4-15.

Dr. Ted Spears, the driving force behind the event that showcases the city’s top natural resource, said so far, 24 sculptors from across the country have registered to participate.

The sculptor in residence is Stefano Pierotti. Pierotti was born in Pietrasanta, Italy, in 1964. His great-grandfather and grandfather were well-known sculptors, and from them, he inherited his passion to mold clay.

Spears, who chairs the festival committee, said Sylacauga works with the city of Pietrasanta to bring well-known sculptors to the festival.

He said sculptors who have been to the Marble City spread the word about how great the marble is -- and the festival. In addition the Alabama State Arts Council, the Alabama Tourism Department and marble publications work with the festival to get the word out.

Spears has been the festival’s biggest promoter from the beginning. The mission of the marble festival, he said, is to recreate the magic of marble through its artistic, commercial and industrial applications.

“There is no other place that has creamy white marble like we have in Sylacauga,” he said. “Four major industries that use marble components have located in our area because of this natural resource. The four are Heritage Plastics, IKO, Atlas and the block plant in Childersburg.”

Spears said marble has an economic impact on the city not only when it comes to industries, but also through artistic and commercial applications.

There are three marble companies operating in the Sylacauga area.

Imerys is one of the largest producers of calcium/carbonate products in the world. Omya Inc., is also an international producer. Calcium/carbonate is used for both business and industrial purposes. The Sylacauga Marble Quarry is the only producer of dimensional marble for artistic use as well as marble for building construction.

All three are sponsors of the Marble Festival.

Spears said in sculpting circles, Sylacauga marble is becoming well known at schools such as Auburn University, University of Alabama, University of Montevallo and UAH, and he added smaller colleges are now aware of Sylacauga’s marble.

The event chairman is excited about two events in the festival that are being held in different locations.

“The Italian party for visiting sculptors is going to be held at our new restaurant opening here on April 6,” he said. “Pie and Pints is hosting this from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The mayor’s reception for sculptors and sponsors is April 12 at City Hall starting at 6 p.m. This is an opportunity for us to showcase a new restaurant and City Hall.”

The event schedule includes a children’s poster contest with cash prizes, daily marble displays at B.B. Comer Memorial Library, quarry tours and the Nemak 5K Run and 1 mile Fun Run.

Spears said research shows the importance of a brand name in promoting a festival or location.

“Our brand name is marble,” he said. “It’s here and here to stay because of the miles and miles of marble. It is not a resource that can be picked up and moved. We have enough marble to last 125 years. There is so much potential here with our quarries.”

He said the festival volunteers are dedicated and help make it a success.

Marble stone used by the sculptors is brought in free for their use during the festival. The sculptors will be in Blue Bell Park working each day.

For contact information, email magicofmarble@gmail.com, or call the city of Sylacauga at 256-401-2424 or B.B. Comer Library at 256-249-0961.