WhistleStop Festival coming to an end after 20+ years

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The WhistleStop festival started in 2001, but the 2022 festival appears to be the last one. (WhistleStop Festival via Facebook)

One of the most popular festivals in Huntsvile for the last two decades has been discontinued. Officials with the WhistleStop Festival announced over the weekend that the 2022 festival would be the last edition of the event.

Since 2001, the EarlyWorks Foundation has produced the WhistleStop Festival, one of the premier BBQ Competitions in the Southeast. After evaluating fundraising efforts moving forward, the Foundation has opted to try other fundraising methods outside of the festival. Here’s what to know:

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20+ years of WhistleStop

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WhistleStop began as a festival at the Huntsville Depot and was later relocated to John Hunt Park. (WhistleStop Festival via Facebook)

At WhistleStop Weekend, grill masters from across the region gather to compete in both amateur and professional divisions. Visitors enjoyed the BBQ, wings and sides, voted on the People’s Choice Awards, participated in the Alabama Corn Hole Championship and listened to live headliners each night.

Headliners that have played the WhistleStop Festival in Huntsville have included the Gin Blossoms, Marshall Tucker Band, The Rembrandts and dozens more.

The festival has seen thousands of visitors and BBQ cooks from across the United States come to Huntsville to celebrate and take part in the festivities.

Say ‘Goodbye’ to WhistleStop Weekend

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The EarlyWorks Family of Museums has announced the annual WhistleStop Bar-B-Que Festival will not return for 2023. (WhistleStop Festival via Facebook)

EarlyWorks Executive Director Bart Williams said the Foundation has opted to “go in a different direction” in regard to its fundraising efforts, despite the popularity of the festival. That means WhistleStop Festival 2022 (held at John Hunt Park last September) will be the last edition of the festival.

“After thoughtful deliberation they have decided to move in new directions and say goodbye to the WhistleStop Festival. The community support was the best part of this event, and the EarlyWorks Family of Museums is truly grateful. During the 22 years, thousands of cooking teams, volunteers, partners, vendors, and sponsors have lent their time and talents to help make the festival a success. We thank you and everyone who has supported WhistleStop.”

EarlyWorks Executive Director Bart Williams

Williams said via social media over the weekend that during the past 20+ years, “it has been a privilege to entertain the community while raising funds for the education initiatives at the EarlyWorks Children’s Museum, Alabama Constitution Hall Park and the Historic Huntsville Depot.”

Williams did say to pay attention to news coming soon regarding new events benefiting the Early Works Family of Museums.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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