(HWY 17 / WATERFORD, MS) – The North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic [held June 23-25, 2016 in Waterford, MS] is a rare breed among festivals in that it aims to exclusively book artists that have a connection to the delta, hill country blues scene. You won’t find the next Gary Clark Jr. or Black Keys here, but you will find genuine North Mississippi blues.
“All acts have a direct contact to hill country blues,” said Sara Brown, who runs the festival alongside her husband Kenny Brown.
Thursday is set aside from getting your camp site set up and enjoying the guitar and harmonica workshops featuring accomplished musicians such as Garry Burnside, Eric Deaton, Watermelon Slim, and Adam Gussow. The guitar workshop will run from 10 am–3 pm and the harmonica workshop from 9 am–4:30 pm. The day will wrap up with a jam from both workshops.
“The Guitar and Harmonica Workshop Jam will be held on the Picnic Campground Stage…and is free to the public,” said Brown.
Friday and Saturday of the picnic both offer at least 12 hours of music. For anyone who keeps an ear on the delta, you’ll recognize staples such as North Mississippi All Stars, Jimbo Mathus, and Kudzu Kings.
Surrounding the music, you’ll be able to make a stop through the artist village and pick up some local, handmade art from one of the many vendors signed up to sell their goods. Every festival offers the typical shirts and totes with their logo branded on them, but in Hill Country you can walk away with a one-of-a-kind souvenir made in the home of the blues.
“The artist village features artists with items to sell specifically related to Hill Country Blues,” said Brown.
While you’re allowed to bring in a cooler (for a charge of $10) full of whatever food and refreshments you’d like, Betty Davis BBQ will be the official food vendor of the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic.
The picnic also offers primitive camping on a first come first serve basis. Brown is expecting, “several thousand,” to turn out for the festival, so it is advised you arrive early for a prime camping spot.
If the camping fills up or you prefer to camp with some modern amenities, you can go just down the road to the Wall Doxey State Park. Here you can camp with running water and electricity all in a quiet, secluded setting.
In addition to all the arts this year, you will also be able to pick up a raffle ticket from one of the raffle booths inside the picnic. The prizes will be donated locally and the proceeds from the raffle tickets will be given to a local cause.
“Raffle funds go to help support scholarships for the Guitar workshop and specific Hill Country Blues Community needs that arise during the year,” said Brown. “We’ve buried a lot of folks and hope we don’t have to use the funds for that, but we are prepared to step in and help as needed during the year.”
Tickets can be bought online at nmshillcountrypicnic.com in both single-day and full-weekend passes. Those who purchase their tickets in advance will receive a compilation album from last year’s 10-year anniversary of the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic festivalways.
NOTE: From Oxford, the site is located just after the Tallahatchie Bridge on Highway 7 North, on land that houses the famed establishment Betty Davis Barbeque. You should see the Betty Davis store on your left. If coming in from Holly Springs, follow Highway 7 South for 12 miles and you will see Betty Davis Barbeque on the right up a little hill just before the Tallahatchie Bridge.