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Organizers try to keep Helen Keller Festival evolving after 37 years

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TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WHNT) – Later this month, the Helen Keller Festival will take over the city of Tuscumbia for its annual celebration.

With so many years behind them, how do organizers keep the story of “America’s First Lady of Courage” relevant for new audience’s?

Each year the event draws an international audience. Sue Pilkilton has worked on the festival’s executive board since its inception 37 years ago.

“It’s hard work. We start in July and we start planning the next year,” stated Pilkilton. “It’s a big job, especially when you’re not getting paid to do it. You want to bring something so positive to the area.”

Pilkilton said to keep drawing in crowds and attention to Keller, new activities are added each year. But it’s not all about the entertainment.

For 54 years, “The Miracle Worker,” a drama depicting Keller’s life and struggles, has been performed on the grounds of Ivy Green.

Pilkilton said for an improved audience experience, the plays set has undergone major renovations.

Organizers said they want to keep Keller’s story out to the public for generations to come.

“People tend to say ‘I’ll go next week or next year,’” Pilkilton explained. “But it is very important to keep the story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan’s life out to everyone.”

And by keeping the festival evolving, Pilkilton said they will likely be around for another 37 years.

The Helen Keller Festival begins on June 25 and continues through June 28, with events planned across Tuscumbia.

Follow this link to this year’s Helen Keller Festival website.