Old-time music event today, Saturday

Published 1:04 am Friday, May 18, 2018

The Mississippi Fiddlers Association will hold its 2018 “Great Big Yam Potatoes Old-Time Music Gathering and Fiddle Contest” at Historic Jefferson College in Natchez, today and Saturday.

This family friendly event is free and open to the public. “We are pleased to host this celebration of Mississippi’s old-time fiddle music,” said Robert Gray, President of the Mississippi Fiddlers Association. “It’s a rare opportunity to hear Mississippi’s finest old-time musicians in a beautiful historic setting that is the birthplace of Mississippi.”

The event begins Friday night, May 18, with a potluck dinner on the grounds at 6 p.m., followed by a showing of the new documentary, “Great Big Yam Potatoes: The Film” by Dean Blackwell, Allen Blackwell and Damien Blaylock. 

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An old-fashioned barn dance will start at 7:30 p.m. featuring dance caller Bridget Edwards and live fiddle music by Jack Magee and Soundwagon. Live acoustic music begins 9 a.m. Saturday with a flag-raising and a performance by fiddler and music historian Harry Bolick.

The music continues with the Rocky Mountaineers; and the popular duet of Jack Magee and Shelley Gendusa. 

The Magnolia Hillbillies play at noon, featuring Buddy and Faith McClure.  Early Americana duo Hal and Connie Jeanes will play at 1 p.m., followed by Johnny Rawls playing clawhammer banjo at 2 p.m., and “Blues ambassador” Reeves Jones at 3 p.m.

Also featured this year is Madison storyteller Lizzie Turner, who will tell tales for adults and children at noon.

The ever-popular fiddle contest begins in the main building at 10 a.m. Saturday.   

Excitement builds as fiddlers 18 and older compete after lunch. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three fiddlers in each division.

Find up-to-date rules, registration information and an event schedule on the Great Big Yam Potatoes Facebook page.

Aunt Suzie’s Catering of Natchez will sell delicious hot plate lunches at noon on Saturday. The public is invited to picnic under the 200-year old oaks. Water and soft drinks will be available for sale.  Public restrooms are available.  This is an alcohol-free event.

Primitive camping for participating musicians is available Friday and Saturday night.

Festival-goers will want to take a moment to view “Mississippi Tintypes Today,” an invitational exhibit of contemporary wet-plate photography in the Historic Jefferson College Visitor Center.

Photographers will also be on site to demonstrate this form of photography using antique cameras with glass lenses.

“This will be a living exhibit of an 1800s photographic technique,” said Gray. 

Historic Jefferson College is owned and administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, co-sponsor of the event.  Established in 1802, it was the birthplace of Mississippi’s statehood in 1817.  The school was the first institution of higher learning chartered in the Mississippi Territory.  The college is located in Washington, Mississippi, 6-and-a-half miles northeast of Natchez on Highway 61.  The address is 16 Old North Street, Natchez, MS 39120. For more information, contact: Robert Gray, Mississippi Fiddlers Association, Wurzburg58@gmail.com, 601 506-656, or the staff of Historic Jefferson College, 601 442-2901.  You can also find us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/GreatBigYamPotatoes.

Robin Seage Person is site director for Historic Jefferson College.