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Summer will be berry blue in Natchez

NATCHEZ — If everything goes according to plan, this summer the Natchez bluff is going to get just a little bluer with a one-day blueberry festival.

The Natchez Blueberry Festival will serve two purposes — to celebrate the tiny summer fruit and to raise money for the Natchez Stewpot, said Guy Bass, who is in charge of the festival’s organization and promotion.

The festival organizers want the word to get out early, Bass said, so those who want to get involved or have ideas about what can be done can get in on the planning.

The inaugural blueberry festival will be the third weekend in June, a month that was chosen in part because it was wide open.

“That is a slow month of the year as far as festivals are concerned, and the more people we can bring to this city to support tourism, the better,” Bass said.

“We are going to start off small the first year, just do one day, all day Saturday. Hopefully it will grow into a full festival and continue to get bigger and bigger.”

The event will serve as a fundraiser for the Stewpot, Bass said, because he feels that the Stewpot is often overlooked when other fundraising events are hosted in the area.

“We are going to try to help the Stewpot in any way we can, with food or equipment, whatever things they may need for to help the people who need food in Natchez,” he said.

And the reason the blue fruit around which the festival will be based was chosen?

“There are so many blueberry festivals around the country, and even though we have so many blueberry growers around here, nobody has had a blueberry festival around here,” Bass said.

“I approached Dr. Randy Tillman, who has a blueberry farm south of town, and he agreed to partner with us for the festival, but we know that there are other local growers, and we invite them to be involved.”

Like any good food-based festival, the Natchez Blueberry Festival will have such standards as a blueberry pie eating and recipe contests and blueberry lemonade, but Bass said organizers are working to provide a wide array of offerings for the day.

“We would like to invite local artists to come and sell their wares, because we are trying to get as much for the festival as possible,” he said.

“We are also going to have contests for children to do — we are going to have contest for boys to paint a wood fence like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, a contest for who paints the best board and who has the best costume.”

As the festival nears, hats, t-shirts and aprons will become available for sale.

Those who want more information or want to get involved may contact Bass by email at guybass@bellsouth.net or by phone at 601-597-8006.