Fall Events Guide

Bell Witch Festival offered spooky TN history

Jack Daniel Primo Grills

ADAMS — If you grew up in Tennessee, you already know about the Bell Witch. In fact, there’s a good chance that an older sibling used the tale to scare you to death when you were a child. But did you know there’s a Bell Witch Festival taking place this fall in the exact spot where it all began?

On Sept. 22, the event kicks off with Red River Tales a live history, folklore, storytelling, and musical performance. This spooky event will get you in the Halloween spirit as some of the best storytellers in Tennessee gather to regale visitors with tales of the the Black Patch Wars, Port Royal, and the infamous Bell Witch. This event is free and will serve as the official kick off to the Bell Witch Festival. Click here for more information.

Smoke: The Ballad of the Night Riders will be performed as part of The Bell Witch Festival on Sept. 26-28 and Oct. 3-5. The play’s written by David Alford, who played Bucky Dawes on the series Nashville. {Photo Provided}

On the last weekend of September (Sept. 26-28) and the first weekend of October (Oct. 3-5) the festival will continue with a play called, Smoke: A Ballad of the Night Riders. The story revolves around a “long-suppressed local story” of the dark history of the Dark Fired Tobacco District of the early 1900s in Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee. The Black Patch Tobacco War, as it was called, extended from 1904 to 1909 and pitted a group of vigilante farmers against the American Tobacco Company. The Night Riders, as they were named by local press, resorted to physical intimidation, crop burning, and other tactics to encourage the compliance of all farmers in the stand against Big Tobacco. The writer, David Alford, is a native of Adams and best known for his acting work, as Bucky Dawes on the series Nashville. Click here for more information.

Alford also wrote a second play for the festival, Spirit: The Authentic Story of Bell Witch, which will be performed Oct. 17-19, and 24-26. This play has been performed on the grounds of the Bell School in Adams each fall since 2002. That ground is the very place in which the fabled Bell Witch haunting took place. The play will be performed by professional actor from Nashville as well as local talent.

Alford used Richard William Bell’s memoir, Our Family Trouble, to write the play. Bell’s memoir is the only existing eyewitness account of the Bell Witch haunting, which took place between 1818 and 1820. Click here for more information.

Red River Tales performances happen at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 22. All other performance times are 7 p.m. Performances take place outside at the Bell School Community Complex Brooksher Outdoor Pavilion so be sure to check the weather. No alcohol is allowed. Tickets are available at the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce and Adams City Hall. For more information, click here.

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