Second helping

·2 min read

May 26—Grilled cheese is great, but organizers at Hanceville are hoping the second helping will be twice as nice. The upcoming long Memorial Day weekend marks the return of what fans of last year's inaugural outing hope will turn into an annual tradition: A party-in-the-streets celebration of all things gooey and golden.

That's a dressed-up way of saying that the second Hanceville Grilled Cheese Festival is on the menu for Saturday, closing downtown streets so food trucks can set up shop for a pedestrian-friendly celebration of a comfortingly dressed-down treat.

Last year's first festival exceeded crowd expectations — who knew grilled cheese could bring so many people together? — and planners are hoping this year's encore will layer on even more well as a few extra calories. Sure, you can grab a gussied-up grilled cheese with all kinds of extra fixings (Hanceville mayor Kenneth Nail recalls nibbling into a pear tucked away in a haute-cuisine version last year). But with dozens of melty offerings ranging from way-too-fancy to accessible and down-home, at least one thing's for certain: No one should go away hungry.

The festival will close down Bangor Avenue and Commercial Street in the heart of Hanceville's historic downtown, and there'll be dozens of vendors, kids' activities, entertainment acts, and (of course) an officially-judged grilled cheese cook-off. Griddles will fire up starting at 9 a.m. and continue sizzling until the event's 3 p.m. closing time on Saturday.

Venturing slightly farther afield this weekend will reward music lovers with the sights and sounds of live entertainment at Smith Lake. The Smith Lake Park Memorial Day Weekend Music Festival will take over the park all day Saturday, featuring arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, and a day filled with live music — plus the official opening weekend of the park's swimming pool for the 2022 summer season.

Kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards will also be available to rent, and the event will feature a full slate of contests throughout the day. Park admission on Saturday is free, so the only money you'll spend will be for food, camping, pool, and rentals. The music fest runs Saturday, May 28 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 234.