Most of the annual festivals in Clarksdale have been virtual since the COVID pandemic began in March.
Stan Street attempted to change that by having his 13th annual Hambone Festival in person last Thursday to Sunday. It is the weekend of Halloween, right around Street’s birthday, every year.
Street said it was the best weekend all year, brought revenue and life to Clarksdale and people conducted themselves properly, but acknowledged without the pandemic, there would have been almost more people than he could handle.
“Live music is different from streaming,” Street said. “Streaming, people are sick of it. They want to interact. People are social. They need other human beings to connect with, not the internet.”
Street said people wore masks, but they were not required. He thanked the musicians, police department and city of Clarksdale for helping make the festival a success. He expects a normal turnout next year.
“Once the news shuts down, then the pandemic will disappear,” Street said. “All of the sudden it’s going to be like normal. People are going to make it normal. This is not anything new. There’s viruses out there they don’t even know about. This happens to be a big thing, but it’s not as big as the media says. Believe me. It’s my opinion.”
The Hambone Festival was the same weekend as the Cruzn the Crossroads Car & Truck Show. Street said representatives from the two festivals decided they will be the same weekend every year.
Johnny Rawls from Purvis is one musician who has played at every Hambone Festival. He also played at every Juke Joint Festival in April, but he likes the location of the Hambone Festival at Hambone Gallery.
“What’s unique about it is Stan,” Rawls said. “It’s a small gathering. It’s people that just really love music. They’re not just here to drink a beer. They’re here for the music.
“I was playing at the Juke Joint Festival and I was complaining about the places they had me playing and he put me here seven or eight years ago and I said, ‘This is my spot.’”
Rawls said not everyone wore a mask like they should have at the Hambone Festival, but people did a good job social distancing and were spread out.
Bill “Watermelon Slim” Homans is not a regular at the Hambone Festival, but he performed this year.
“I always enjoy playing for Stan and Hambone,” Homans said. “I don’t always get a chance to be part of that festival because, lacking the COVID, I’d be out on the road someplace, probably in Europe. With the virus around, I’m very grateful to Stan Street and Live From Clarksdale for continuing to provide me a few opportunities.”
Live From Clarksdale did give people an opportunity to view the festival virtually.