Celebrating Mississippi’s Bicentennial
By Suzannah Patterson
The state's heritage of arts and entertainment will be the theme and backdrop for this year's FestivalSouth, promised to be laced with special performances that celebrate the music for which Mississippi is famous.
We Are Mississippi: A Bicentennial Celebration Concert, will be performed by the FestivalOrchestra in a showcase of 200 years of the music that influenced the world. The concert features blues, gospel, jazz, rock 'n' roll and country and salutes Mississippi’s greatest songwriters and performers, including Elvis Presley, Charley Pride, B.B. King, Jimmie Rodgers, Robert Johnson, Craig Wiseman, Glen Ballard, Tena Clark, Ben Peters and more. The event's Film Expo will run for five nights and will feature mostly films produced and directed by Mississippians and shot in Mississippi. Awards will be presented at The Thirsty Hippo in Hattiesburg the final night.
A special tribute will be made to Mississippi native Jim Henson, a world-renowned puppeteer best known as creator of The Muppets. Henson’s film, The Dark Crystal, will be shown at The Grand Theatre. Although this film features puppets, it is not a Muppets movie, but rather a dramatic story that takes place in a dangerous otherworld where dark forces have taken over.
Also at the Grand, catch The Muppet Movie, the first of a series of live-action musical feature films starring the Muppets. The classic film is a movie-in-a-movie, as Kermit the Frog and the rest of the Muppets gather for the first screening of The Muppet Movie.
Also in honor of Jim Henson, The Library of Hattiesburg will host nationally renowned puppeteer, David Stephens, as he reads “I am Jim Henson.” Stephens will also perform for children of all ages with his puppet show, “Billy Goats Gruff and Other Stuff.” Stephens, from All Hands Productions, will demonstrate his handmade puppets, sharing how Henson inspired his career, including Stephens' experience as a puppeteer on Sesame Street.
Also part of the FestivalSouth Mississippi bicentennial celebration is Subway Doodle artist Ben Rubin, who will use images provided by Mississippi photographers and transform them into an in-depth commentary, promoting deeper thought concerning how Mississippians live today. During the run of the festival, these photographic works will hang in numerous locations throughout Hattiesburg.
The Hattiesburg Craft Beer Festival will also salute the state’s bicentennial. The beer festival will serve beers from brewers across the nation, but will feature Mississippi’s craft breweries.