Cullman, Alabama is more than just a rural small town in North Alabama. Imagine visiting the Coliseum, Great Wall of China or Leaning Tower of Pisa all in one day. Every day of the year with the exception of Christmas, visitors are welcomed to Ave Maria Grotto at St. Bernard Abbey in North Alabama’s beautiful Mountain Lakes Region.
April 21-22, 2012 the small Benedictine community of monks at St. Bernard welcomes more than 140 artist and craftsmen from across the United States to demonstrate and display their handiworks. Aside from the backdrop of the stone-cut buildings to the beautiful flowering dogwoods and azaleas, St. Bernard is proud to host one of the South’s top festivals – The 28th Annual Bloomin’ Festival Arts and Crafts Fair.
Little did anyone know a small school community like St. Bernard Prep could become a destination stop for thousands of visitors? Festival Director, Joyce Nix, said Bloomin’ Festival has been a tradition in Cullman for the past 27 years, and the 28th one is taking shape nicely too.
“I remember when we started the show 27 years ago, and it was just an idea for a quick fundraiser. We blazed a trail through Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi looking for quality artist and quickly became a favorite in the Southeast,” Nix said.
“We are very selective about the quality and the quantity of each booth,” continued Nix. “We take only the finest artist and craftspeople, and bring them together for one premier showcase of talent.”
Bloomin’ Festival features a demonstrating blacksmith, glassblower, potter, as well as personalized gift items or items for the home and garden such as handmade quilts, birdhouses, clothing for ladies and children, toys, jewelry, pottery, stained glass, and monks raisin bread baked by real monks. An added attraction for 2012 is a corn gristmill which will be operating. Children will be allowed to shuck corn and turn it into grits or cornmeal.
On Saturday, April 21 there will be a 5K/10K Race through St. Bernard Abbey’s Treasure Forest. To register visit www.bloominfestival.com.
At the conclusion of the festival a drawing for a 2012 Jeep Patriot, 2 nights at Zoder’s Inn in Gatlinburg, TN, and many other valuable prizes will be held.
Adjacent to the grounds, one can visit Ave Maria Grotto, a four acre garden park created by Benedictine Monk- Br. Joseph Zoettl.
“Many people refer to Ave Maria Grotto as ‘Little Jerusalem,” Nix said. The Grotto includes many years of intense labor by a monk who devoted his time to building miniature replicas of buildings from Jerusalem and the Holy Lands.
A very simple man, Br. Joseph used photographs as his model diagrams.
Br. Joseph was very meticulous with his work. His 125 miniatures were constructed of cement, and decorated with cold cream jars, colored glass, marbles, costume jewelry, and anything else he found striking and useful. He was grateful for whatever the community offered his garden.
Bloomin’ Festival is April 21-22, 2012. An admission donation of $5 is requested at the gate. Children ages 5 and under are free. Admission to Ave Maria Grotto is only $3 the entire weekend.