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Big Fish Spawns Main Street Festival

The crowd was just beginning to build when this photo was taken just after 10:30 Saturday morning.

Macy Hooper (in pink) sped to the finish line with some encouragement from her Mom, Amanda (holding beads), to win the Baby Crawl event Saturday. The other racing babies were Sean Thomas Gray and Booker Harvey.

The Imagination Station Art Show held during Crappie Fest featured a gallery of Water Valley folk.

The weather was pleasant, but some welcome shade was to be found in Railroad Park.

Brian Wilson shows off his two pound, six ounce crappie which took the big fish prize.

Vaughn Hart makes it look easy as she wins the hula-hoop contest during the World’s Largest Crappie Festival Saturday. Big E and the Drifting Hound Dogs provided some red hot rhythm for her spin to win.

Youngsters participated in the always popular Hula-hoop contest.

Miss Hospitality Jillian Harris was among the hula-hoopers as was Dalton Higdon (left).

Space law professor P. J. Blount, who was announcer, demonstrated some “out of this world” moves as he worked the hula hoop contest participants Saturday.

Judging the crappie dishes were (from left) Wilbur Herring, Cal Trout, Jonathan Bass, and Paul Fischer. The foursome proclaimed Jamie Rounsaville as King Crappie for his best tasting crappie dish.

Three-year-old Lawson Sheldon (far left) played with his Dad, George, of the Drifting Hound Dogs. Lawson’s Mom is former Water Vallian Braden VanWinkle Sheldon.

Egg race participants.

Volunteers make Main Street events possible. Cliff Lawson and Eddie Ray were just two of many working the Crappie Fest Saturday. Lawson (center) was having a delightful time handing out easily breakable and messy raw eggs to small children participating in the egg race. The event turned into an impromptu egg toss (below) before ending.

Three-year-old Ethan Sossaman got his face painted by Margaret Higdon.

The World’s Largest Crappie Festival kicked off Saturday morning with music on the Main Stage. “It is all about us,” said Main Street Director Mickey Howley, “fish frying and local food, funky and fun music, regional arts and crafts, games for kids and adults, and just a big street party where you meet your friends and make new ones.”

See the video on YouTube

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Piles Of Trash Mean Successful Event

Street Talk By Mickey Howley

Anthropologists often glean much of their insights into a culture’s way of life by sifting through trash. If any researcher in the future comes across the pile created last Saturday by the World’s Largest Crappie Festival (it will be found in Pontotoc County), I’m sure they will speculate as to what was going on.

Of the evidence: the funnel cake debris, the snow-cone stained cups, the crumbs from kettle corn to Turkish pita bread. They will wonder and ask, “what is the significance of this fish drawing?” But, for sure, the researchers will come to the conclusion it was a fun time.

In environmentally less sensitive times (just a few years ago), the success of any street festival was measured in the volume of trash it produced.  More trash meant more fun and more people enjoying the food and festivities. All the many trash cans I saw last Saturday evening were overflowing. And that means someone has to pick up the trash. That someone is the City of Water Valley Sanitation Depart-ment.

The city kicks in a lot to ensure the festival’s smooth success. The parks crew made sure the Railroad Park was neat at the start of the fest. The electric depart-ment had the stage powered up, the street department prepped before and straightened after, the fire department held down the fort while the police department put in a long day at the festival. And Mayor Larry Hart  and his office made sure it all happened in a timely fashion.

Let me make a point here: putting on these festivals is an added cost to the city; many towns our size don’t even have a festival. We have two. And I think if a town is willing to put forth the effort to throw festivals based on either a fish or a melon, it says something very positive about the community as a whole. That we prize our time together as community having fun says a lot about us as a town.

These festivals are more than just about fun. There are a number of intangible benefits. Some of it is selling the town to regional visitors. David Sage, the owner of Rebel Sound who supplied the festival sound equipment, mentioned he had not been in Water Valley for  “five or six years,” and he noticed the town had “really changed” (I’m guessing he meant for the better).  He asked about how the real estate was here, as he had seen a place on Panola Street that looked very interesting.

Main Street HQ in Jackson always asks the WVMSA to count volunteer hours. I assure you, the “Crappie Fest” cumulative number of volunteer hours runs into the thousands. And it is only because of the volunteers that the festival is possible. They are the driving force, along with the sponsors, that make it all happen.

While the actual fest may be only seven hours long, the effort to pull it together is months long. So if you had a good time hula-hooping or listening to the music or just being proud to own a crappie t-shirt, thank a volunteer — and better even: consider joining the festival crew for next year!

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