(No MS) – The month of June conjures a swirl of senses in the Mississippi mind: scorching days and steaming nights, cold drops of condensation trickling down icy cans of beer or sweet, swollen watermelons, and the smell of smoke wafting from the grill. Put these things together, add a heavy helping of music and a mess of friends and fellowship, shake it all up, and you’ve got the beloved summer festival. Specifically, around these parts, June means it’s time for the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, one of the best blues festivals in the state if not the country.
The Picnic, which started in 2006, is also a nonprofit organization whose goal “is to enhance appreciation and educate the general public about the native art form of North Mississippi Hill Country Blues music through performance, preservation, and interpretation.”
Taking place June 28-29 about 15 miles north of Oxford at the corner of Highways 7 and 310, the Picnic will host a feast of blues musicians including a fat handful of Burnsides and Kimbroughs, local favorites Kudzu Kings, and The North Mississippi Allstars. Festival co-creator Kenny Brown recently said, “It’s more like a family reunion that just happens to be a music fest. I’ve known most of the people since they were five, and the others most of my life.” Many of the artists who will play throughout the weekend are Picnic veterans, but keep an eye out for newcomers, like Band of Heysek, who are coming all the way from Czech Republic.
Tickets are available online now through June 25 at the website for $25 per day, with add-ons for camping ($15) and a small cooler fee ($10). If you’re planning to make a weekend of it, save some money and get the package deal with everything for $65. There is also a VIP ticket option for those who want to Picnic in style, which includes two-day admission, camping, and access to the VIP shade tent equipped with fans and a side-stage view, plus one free meal and four drinks each day (including beer). The VIP option can only be purchased online through June 21, so get yours early because they won’t be available at the gate. Early Bird pricing for VIP tickets is $150 and will increase to $200 after June 16. Ticket sales at the gate will be cash only.
As always, camping is encouraged (and the best way to get the full picnic experience), but there are some important rules you need to know before you load up your tents and sleeping bags. For everyone’s safety, no glass containers, pets, or motorized vehicles will be allowed on the festival site. Camping is primitive, and there will be portable toilets, showers, and water faucets available. RVs can park, but there will be no hookups.
Once you get to the Picnic, you’re going to need some basic supplies. Don’t forget to plan for heat: bring water, sunblock, a hat, fans, umbrellas for shade or rain, and sunglasses. Leave your weapons, glass containers, pets, and golf carts at home. Most importantly, bring lots of cash because there will be no ATM on site and you won’t want to miss out on the delicious food, art, and awesome Picnic souvenirs for sale. The artist village will again be a big highlight of the festival, and vendors will only take cash. This year, Betty Davis will also be selling ice cold beer alongside their famous BBQ, catfish, and soul food.