There was music, fun and even tall, cool refreshments served to all, but this Clarksdale festival was a little different.
The first annual Huckin’ Around festival was a two-day event that paid tribute to Mark Twain’s deep connection to and love of the Mississippi River and celebrated the heritage, ecology and culture of the river and Mississippi Delta, all served up with a spot of tea.
Yazoo Yaupon and the Delta Arts District hosted ‘Huckin’ Around’ last week with a series of events that had a little something for everybody.
Huckin’ Around featured local food, art, live music, canoe tours of the Mississippi River, an introduction to the Delta’s own Yaupon Holly tea and presentations by renowned Mark Twain scholar Dr. Cindy Lovell, famed National Geographic Explorer Andrés Ruzo, Mississippi River experts and geologists James E. Starnes and Jonathan Laird, Quapaw Canoe Company owners and river guides John Ruskey and Mark Peoples, and co-founder of Yazoo Yaupon Bryon White.
“I want to thank everyone who has come to Clarksdale this week,” said Oliver Luckett, co-founder of Yazoo Yaupon as he welcomed guests to the Clarksdale Auditorium series of lectures. “We want to unfold, in a series of events and activities the layers of Clarksdale, Mississippi and our culture.”
Ruzo´s explained how the Amazon River basin and the Mississippi River basin are so similar. In a presentation called “Mississippia” he revealed the hidden magic of America’s Amazon.
White spoke to his company’s plans to revive America’s forgotten beverage and be a new niche in the ag economy.
He told of how Native American were drinking yaupon tea – a plant native to this area – more than 8,000 year ago. White said there is a new appetite for this caffeinated beverage, and a desire to grow it, package it and serve it locally.
Mark Twain scholar, Lovell, carried attendee down The River that first marked this part of our country with great literature.
“What he saw and experienced on the river shaped his ever-evolving views about humankind,” said Lovell. “Twain was more than a humorist. He was a moralist.”
The main speaker's event was open to the public at the Clarksdale Civic Auditorium.
There were also canoe trips and a private receptions benefiting the Delta Arts District. The event at the Auditorium drew more than 50 people and plans are underway to host a similar event next year.