The Ridge Project presented the first festival in 2016. Two former Ridge Project board members came up with the idea and developed the concept of holding an annual community festival that would grow year after year. Festivals took place in 2017 and 2018. Click here to listen to a podcast about the first festival.
The Federal Road is at the center of a story of cultural evolution and the complex history of national security and westward expansion that goes back to prehistoric times when indigenous peoples first occupied present-day Alabama.
Alabama school children learn about the Federal Road when they study Alabama history. Books that commemorate the Federal Road include The Federal Road Through Georgia, the Creek Nation, and Alabama, 1806-1836, (Brown and Sutherland), The Old Federal Road in Alabama: An Illustrated Guide (Braund, Waselkov, and Christopher), The Very Worst Road (Benton), and Nine Days Traveling: Lafayette’s 1825 Alabama Tour Today’s Historical Road Trip (Krumenaker).
The Ridge Project builds on the well-deserved attention that books and school curriculum give the Federal Road. We combine history, arts and culture, and entertainment to present the story in an enjoyable way that appeals to a broad audience, that highlights the significance of an important, but sometimes forgotten historic road and region, and to counteract erasure of the memory of early Alabama indigenous peoples, the Muscogee Nation, and the multiethnic groups of Federal Road travelers, and their present-day descendants. The festival brings people together in a social setting to learn and to share.
The Federal Road through Alabama coincided with a major hunting and trading path that indigenous peoples established and used actively well before and during the American colonial period. Big Warrior, an important chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation operated several stagecoach taverns at Fort Bainbridge (today Boromville), and at Warrior Stand. While under arrest, Vice President Aaron Burr travelled on what would become the Federal Road. The celebrated French general the Marquis de Lafayette travelled on the Federal Road through Alabama in 1825 during his famous tour of the United States.
The Armstrong School and St. Paul Church, The Creek Stand AME Zion Cemetery, the Sweet Pilgrim Cemetery, the Warrior Stand Cemetery, the Macon County Training School and Community Historic District, Fort Hull, Fort Bainbridge, the United States Public Health Service Syphilis Study, Wilson’s Raid, and the United States Colored Troops Infantry 136th, 137th, and 138th regiments.