Crowds of all ages Saturday celebrated good food, music and community at the third annual Southside-Townsend Park Blues Festival.
The festival began with softball tournaments Thursday and Friday and concluded with a gospel and blues music lineup — including Sanders and the Going Four, Mississippi Nightingales, Keith and Margie Brown, Nathan”s Best Band, Johnny Coleman”s Swing Shift Band, Sheba Potts-Wright and Latimore, as the main attraction — Saturday.
“It was good Friday night,” reported Arthur Hodge, a West Point vendor selling snow cones and pork rinds.
“It”s wonderful,” said Rhonda Shoemaker, a vendor selling shaved ice treats, noting she returns to the festival each year for “the people (and) the entertainment.”
“It”s turning out to be a good day for it,” Linda Jaynes, who sold funnel cakes with her sister, Brenda Britt, said of the festival. “We enjoy doing this.”
A vendor selling clothes, hats, sunglasses and cufflinks, Eric Thomas, of Columbus, said this year”s festival was an improvement from last year”s festival.
“I think the softball tournaments made it a whole lot better,” he explained, noting he attended to support his friends, Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor and District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith, who organized the event.
“I think it”s good for the community; it”s good for the community to come together on a holiday like this.”
“I love it,” said Tamara Mays, of Starkville. “I love music, (but) I think (for next year”s festival) they should have a gospel group to inspire younger kids.”
Thom Williams, a cousin of Columbus Mayor Robert Smith visiting from Atlanta, said the festival was his “family reunion.”
“So far, so good,” he said.
“So far, it”s good,” agreed Mary Easley, of Columbus, suggesting next year”s festival feature “more entertainment.”
“More shade,” joked Stanley Thompson, of Columbus, when asked what changes he”d like to see for next year”s festival.
“It”s wonderful for the community,” he added. “(But) some of the vendors are selling the same thing — (ice drinks) and snow cones.”
“It”s better (this year),” said Charlie Fenster, 12, attending the festival for the second time, noting he came for the music, but wants to see more concession stands in the future.
“I like the music,” said Jana Tate, 6, of Columbus.
“I love it,” said Michael Tate. “It”s a little humid, but it”s a good time to get out. It takes festivals like this to bring the community more together. We have something for everyone. And it”s necessary to bring the community together, as well as the city, and just have time to relax.”
“I think it”s very nice,” said Albert Williams, of Columbus. “It”s important to get the people together and you get a chance to see a lot of people you haven”t seen in a period of time.”
“A lot of people from Mississippi move and people from other places come to Mississippi and ask, what is the quality of life?” said Alfred Walker, noting people who complain of nothing to do in Columbus are misinformed.
“It might not be exactly what they want to do, but it”s something to do. And the best part is it”s free. There”s nothing like having good entertainment.
“It shows you can do something good on any side of town,” he continued, explaining the “southside area” of most cities is a “bad area” of town, but not in Columbus.
“The people come and enjoy it. You have plenty of convenience and plenty of security.”