Today marks a couple of really important occasions here in DeKalb County, so want to I take this opportunity to warmly welcome any guests visiting our little corner of the world.

The annual Boom Days festival was scheduled to return last night with the bands Dad Company and Aeromyth taking to the stage.

This morning, we’re excited to hear a wide range of other performers who will share their talents at the Rotary Pavilion, Coal & Iron Building, our City Park and points in between, capped off by this year’s headliners Bellamy Brothers and Sawyer Brown.

Last year’s festival was understandably canceled due to the financial disruptions caused by the pandemic.

The return in 2021 is likely only possible due to most of it taking place outdoors in open air spaces, as many other events we expected to see happen again this summer ended up being canceled.

This means, however, that we will need to be patient with Mother Nature.

We know how Boom Days is to our community, so we hope a chance of some wet weather will not discourage anyone from attending. The good news is that high temperatures will stay in the 70s and 80s so you aren’t likely to sweat like you normally would.

I’m old enough to remember the June Jam Week events that Boom Days has replaced. What an incredible time that was to grow up in Fort Payne during the Alabama Band’s initial emergence as national superstars.

These events are a fantastic chance to make more lasting memories and enjoy coming together as a community. And what a showcase of the remarkable local talents who will once again join the headline performers.

One of my favorite memories of Boom Days is connecting other college football fans to watch the games and today we have a couple of great Top 25 matchups as Auburn visits Penn State and Alabama plays Florida. It’s always more fun to watch these big games with other people and now you can find seas of red and white or orange and blue without having to drive or fly all the way to Gainesville or Pennsylvania.

We encourage anyone visiting Fort Payne this weekend to check out the performances and definitely visit the other attractions and our downtown stores and restaurants. A lot of hard work by volunteers goes into preparing for Boom Days, so thank you to everyone who stepped up to make this year’s event a success.

The other big event this weekend is the Dedication of the Manitou Cave of Alabama Trail of Tears National Historic Trail Certified Site and Sequoyah 200th Anniversary Celebration. The Alabama Humanities Alliance and Manitou Cave of Alabama have an itinerary of events planned today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., including a ribbon cutting photo with the National Park Service, City Council and Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce to dedicate the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail site.

This is a very big deal and a proud moment for Fort Payne as we note the importance of Manitou, Sequoyah and the earliest inhabitants of this area. We must never forget their role in our local history. The national historic trail site represents a great opportunity to teach future generations about our rich heritage and traditions.

The Times-Journal will have a presence at both of these events because they are important celebrations of our past. Come see us and say hello.

Please enjoy yourself today, stay safe and enjoy some Southern hospitality.

— Steven Stiefel is the Times-Journal’s publisher. His column appears in Saturday editions.

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