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Woodville celebrates with wildlife festival

Submitted photo — Jason Reynolds, above, will be demonstrating to children how to hand grab catfish with his 40-foot long aquarium. The former star of the History Channel show “Mudcats” will also be showing his “High Flyin’” Labrador retreivers.

WOODVILLE — For a long time, Wilkinson County’s hunting resources have been a well-kept secret.

But Saturday, Wilkinson County residents will be sharing their secret — and bragging about their big bucks — at the fifth Woodville Deer and Wildlife Festival.

Jacqueline Lee, a spokeswoman for the festival, said it was founded as a way to promote the heritage of Woodville and the greater Wilkinson County area, be it the local musical, food or ecological heritage.

“One of the things we are most proud of is that Woodville has some of the largest bucks in the State of Mississippi and therefore in the entire country,” Lee said. “There have been a few wealthy people from outside the area who have known about this, and they make investments in our land and build hunting camps in our area, but the general public has yet to really discover how much potential this area has for that.”

As a part of the hunting promotion associated with the festival, Mississippi’s Magnolia Records will be at the festival scoring deer antlers.

“People can bring their mounted deer heads in and get those scored, and they will go into the record books,” Lee said. “It gets pretty competitive.”

For those who would rather eat their trophies, the festival offers the wild game cook-off, with venison, fowl, pork and exotic meat categories. The cook-off starts early in the morning, and Lee said several of the teams have become rivals through the years.

And for those who just have to relive a hunt over and over, Rusty McDaniel of Mossy Oak will lead a seminar on how to properly film a hunt.

The festival will also include demonstrations from Jason Reynolds, the former star of the History Channel show Mudcats, which was about catfish handfishers.

“(Reynolds) travels around the country with a 40-foot long aquarium and shows children how to hand grab catfish,” Lee said.

Reynolds also will do demonstrations with his hunting dogs, Labrador retrievers.

But the festival isn’t all about hunting. It will feature live music throughout the day, including returning blues musician Donnell Sullivan, and a juried art show.

Likewise, 15 regional artists will be in attendance and will demonstrate how they produce their wares. Demonstrators will include chainsaw carver Kenny Scoggins and potter Nancilee Baudine.

Admission is $5, and children younger than 5 are free.

For $20, children can purchase a wristband that will allow them into the festival’s children’s village, which will allow them unlimited jumps in an inflatable jumper, face painting, laser tag, arts and crafts activities and pony rides.

For older children, the festival will offer bungee jumping and a rock climbing wall, both of which are separately priced.

For more information, contact Lee at 601-888-3998.