By Mickey Howley
The wipers were frozen to my GMC’s windshield. It is always darkest in that hour before dawn, but it was darn cold, too. First Saturday in May and in north Missis-sippi it was ice and frost and freezing. The day before had been a dreary chilly monsoon one and the phone rang constantly, “Is the Crappie Fest gonna be cancelled or postponed?” Crappie weather will do a fest in like nothing else. I read the forecast and stared at the NOAA national mosaic loop. There seemed to be a big gap in the counterclockwise rotation of this spring storm. Maybe we’d be lucky.
The sun came up in a cloudless sky and Railroad Park quickly warmed. Not toasty, but great running weather for the 10 a.m. race. One hundred and thirteen racerunners or walkers registered. The cheerleaders cheered. The arts and craft and food folks all showed. The bands played. The kids played games. Main Street was parked up. The Sheriff’s Department brought the fishermen and fisherwomen to town off the lake and 49 boats rolled into it. The Magnolia Crappie Club weighed lots of crappies. Everybody left happy at 4 p.m. and it started raining at 5 p.m. Weather and outdoor festivals always going to be a crapshoot, but this time the dice came up in WV’s favor.
But luck or not with the weather, street festivals are a ton of preparation. Meetings, ads, vendors, text, graphics, budget, games, layout, sponsors, timing, deadlines, and all sorts of other details and responsibilities have to be figured out and acted on. Mostly done by WVMSA volunteers. The City kicks in with just about every department, too. The WVPD worked the whole event and had an impressively coordinated plan of action. The Electric Department makes sure the place is powered up and made sure every bulb and socket worked. And largely unseen in the days before, the Streets and Sanitation Department worked well in advance and right after; it was a working week and weekend for them. Parks and Cemeteries makes sure the place is neat and spiff before and after, the park was spotless as the dark rain rolled in.
This year the Crappie Fest had some great business sponsors and partners; Borg Warner, Mechanics Bank, The BTC Grocery, The Library Sports Bar, Renasant Bank and Turnage Drugs. They all put in significant resources and all the volunteers give significant time because all believe this is one way to show off the overall changes in downtown Water Valley.
The Fest puts a positive light on the new and established businesses. Just getting people from here and in the region all together to see and enjoy and shop in our historic central business district is the real goal. We think everyone benefits from this effort. Thanks for coming out and enjoying that little bit of sunshine on an otherwise crappie weather weekend.