° empty

Inaugural blueberry festival was berry, berry good

JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Blake LaPrairie, right, enjoys an ice cream cone blueberry ice cream while his friend, Bryan Johnson, samples the chocolate ice cream during the Blueberry Festival on the Natchez bluff on Saturday afternoon. Proceeds from Saturday's festival went to benefit the Stewpot soup kitchen.
JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Blake LaPrairie, right, enjoys an ice cream cone blueberry ice cream while his friend, Bryan Johnson, samples the chocolate ice cream during the Blueberry Festival on the Natchez bluff on Saturday afternoon. Proceeds from Saturday’s festival went to benefit the Stewpot soup kitchen.

NATCHEZ — If one color could describe the Natchez Bluff Saturday, it was blue.

The inaugural Natchez Blueberry Festival was there, and organizers and vendors at the one-day event took the theme to the max. Children ate blueberry ice cream; adults drank blueberry beer; contestants gorged themselves in a blueberry pie-eating contest; the musical acts played the blues.

JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Dylan Bailey, 5, watches a line of melted blueberry ice cream trickle down his arm as he works his way through an ice cream cone during the Blueberry Festival on the Natchez bluff on Saturday afternoon. Proceeds from Saturday's festival went to benefit the Stewpot soup kitchen.
JAY SOWERS / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Dylan Bailey, 5, watches a line of melted blueberry ice cream trickle down his arm as he works his way through an ice cream cone during the Blueberry Festival on the Natchez bluff on Saturday afternoon. Proceeds from Saturday’s festival went to benefit the Stewpot soup kitchen.

And even though the June sun may have left those in attendance feeling like they were sweating buckets of blueberry-flavored perspiration, co-organizer Brandon McCranie said the attendance throughout the day was encouragement for future endeavors.

“I think we had a good enough crowd that we will have to do it again next year,” he said.

When the festival was in its early planning stages, co-organizer Guy Bass said the idea was for Natchez to have a weekend festival in June, but also to raise money for the Stewpot.

In addition to hosting a canned drive at The Markets, McCranie said Saturday the festival was able to raise approximately $2,000 for the non-profit that provides — and in some cases delivers — hot meals to those in need.

“People were very supportive,” Bass said. “Everybody that was involved did a super, super job.”

Other indications that the event went well were the fact that the more than 50 pounds of locally-picked blueberries that were for sale all sold, as did all of the festival’s T-shirts, McCranie said.

And while this year’s festival was small, there’s room for growing and McCranie and Bass said organizers have taken note of some things for an expansion of the event for next year.

“We might try to have a petting zoo or some water games for the kids,” McCranie said. “We saw a lot of kids playing in the fountain here.”