May 19, 2012 4:47:15 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
BY JAN SWOOPE
There will be a decided Southern drawl added to New York City's Central Park Saturday, June 9, when Mississippians and friends from far and near converge for the 33rd annual Mississippi Picnic in the Big Apple, presented in part by the Mississippi Development Authority.
At the Central Park Bandshell on Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street, Southern foods and festivities will provide a taste of home to expatriates who have scattered, as well as Mississippians who travel North for the yearly tradition that has been taking place since 1979.
Grady Champion, a native Mississippi bluesman, will provide live music, along with The New York City Slickers, which includes two Mississippi musicians, Faser and Annie Chadwick Harden.
The 2012 picnic's theme, "Southern Fried Hollywood," puts the focus on some of the Magnolia State's contributions to the silver screen and entertainment industry -- such as the Screen Actors Guild Award winning movie "The Help," "The Muppets" and Jim Henson, Morgan Freeman, OprahWinfrey and James Earl Jones.
The picnic, which is expected to attract more than 2,000 people, will take place rain or shine. Gov. Phil Bryant, representatives of the MDA and statewide tourism officials will be present, as will alumni associations from most of the state's universities.
According to Rachel McPherson, one of the founders of the New York Mississippi Picnic, the gathering provides an opportunity for the mutual cultural education of both New Yorkers and Mississippians.
"This is an event that can guarantee good publicity for Mississippi, promote tourism and retirement destinations to the state and educate the public about specific regions of the state," she said. "Word of its success has spread, and now other southern states such as Arkansas and Alabama are trying to do similar events in the New York area."
There is no admission for the picnic, but donations for catfish lunches, tea and soft drinks are greatly appreciated. All proceeds benefit the New York Society for the Preservation of Mississippi Heritage.
For more information, visit nymspicnic.com, or contact Dina Boucher, 601-359-3297, or [email protected]
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.