Crowds dance all day at Delta Music Festival

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 5, 2009

FERRIDAY — The sky was clear, the music was loud, the food was hot and the feet were tappin’ at the first day of the Delta Music Festival Saturday.

Starting at 9 a.m., band after band kept crowds dancing in the street until the evening.

“So far, it’s been good,” President of the Friends of the Delta Music Museum Foundation Rena Pitts said. “The crowds have been great.”

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Pitts, and others running the show, estimated Saturday’s crowd to be between 2,500 and 3,000 strong.

“It’s a great turnout,” Pitts said.

But no matter the number gathered Saturday, they all had one thing in common, Pitts said.

“We’re here for the music,” she said. “This is about celebrating the music of the Delta.”

And a walk through the packed parking lots around the festival revealed people at the festival came from thousands of miles away.

License plates from Maine, Minnesota, Texas and Oregon could be seen surrounding the blocks around the festival.

Steve and Ellen Philbrick, of Maine, found a shady spot under a tree to watch the bands Saturday.

They didn’t head to the Miss-Lou for the Delta Music Festival, but they were glad they found it, Steve said.

“We haven’t been to anything like this before,” he said.

The Philbricks were traversing the country when they stopped in Natchez and heard about the music festival.

“We really like this Americana kind of thing,” he said. “We love to see local things.”

And as the Philbricks soaked up all the Americana Ferriday could offer, the Delta Music Museum was packed and dishing out plenty of history.

Tour guide Rosemary Watkins said the museum was crowded for most of the day.

“People want to come in and see what we have to offer,” Watkins said.

And Saturday’s festival wasn’t just about fun — there was business too.

Baton Rouge musician Johnny Rivers was inducted into the Delta Music Hall of Fame during the festival.

Rivers, due to a scheduling conflict, could not be at the festival. But that didn’t slow the party in the street.

“People want to come out here and listen to good music and have a good time,” Pitts said. “And that’s what we’re doing.”