Are you in the mood for a relaxing day in the park? Would you like to celebrate the state of Mississippi with a few thousand like-minded folks? If this appeals to you, then you might want to take a trip to New York City on Saturday, June 8, for the 2013 New York-Mississippi Picnic. This year’s theme is “Mississippi Legends and Trails.”
The picnic began in 1979 as the brainchild of a group of Mississippi natives living in New York. The original idea was to showcase this state to those who had some misconceptions about us and about Mississippi. “I felt that people in New York had negative ideas about people from Mississippi, and people from outside New York had a terrible image of Central Park,” says Rachel McPherson, one of the creators of the event.
Of course, some of the founders were just homesick. And who can blame them? Now, 34 years later, the event that celebrates Mississippi’s culture and heritage is still going strong.
Since the theme this year is “Mississippi Legends and Trails,” the festival recognizes Mississippi’s own Jimmie Rodgers as the Father of Country Music. There will be performances by entertainers like Britt Gully, a Jimmie Rodgers tribute artist; Liz Davis, Mississippi’s country singer finalist in The Voice; and the list goes on.
You can bring a picnic basket, but you do not have to. There will be southern treats for sale, like fried catfish, sweet tea and desserts just like your grandmother used to make. Try not to get too carried away with the “watermelon seed spittin’ contest.” Someone could get hurt.
Mississippi artists and authors will have their work on display. Of special local interest is everyone’s friend, John Dorroh, who will be selling his book “99 Words,” and booklets of his hilarious “White Trash Poetry.”
There will be an appearance by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. Also on the program is a special recognition of former Governor William Winter, celebrating his 90th birthday. Winter served as governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984 and was instrumental in working with the founders of the Mississippi Picnic. In addition, an exhibit will be on display to promote the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, which was founded at the University of Mississippi.
Representatives of a number of Mississippi’s colleges and universities will attend the picnic as well. But let’s face it: Food, music, and art are the big draws.
Entrance to the picnic is free. However, any money you spend on food and drink will benefit The New York Society for the Preservation of Mississippi Heritage, and help to defray costs of future picnics.
If this sounds like fun to you, then head up to “The Big Apple” for a Mississippi experience in the heart of Central Park. You may want to check out their Facebook page, nymspicnic.com, or contact Rachel McPherson at 718-788-2831 for more information.
I hope a few people from the Golden Triangle can go to “represent the family” (as my grandmother used to say). If you do, have fun, and say “hi” to John.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.
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