City promotion in plan for Miss. Picnic in NYC

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A pair of Brookhavenites will make the approximately 1,100-milejourney to New York City this weekend to push the HomeseekersParadise in an annual celebration of Mississippi culture.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Program DirectorKay Burton and Bank of Brookhaven President Bill Sones plan topromote the hometown and network with Big Apple businessmen at thisweekend’s 30th annual Mississippi Picnic, a daylong showcase ofMississippi arts, crafts, music, food and culture held in CentralPark.

“We’re doing it for Brookhaven to have a presence there,” Burtonsaid. “As a place for people to come back to.”

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The Mississippi Picnic was first organized in 1979 as a way forNew York-based Mississippians to fellowship and relive the Southerngoodness of their home state. This year, Brookhaven is beingafforded its own booth at the festival, thanks to a helping handfrom the Mississippi Development Authority.

Burton plans to use her time at the booth during the six-hourfestival to promote Brookhaven to all those with Mississippities.

Her presence at the event – a qualified trade show – will alsocount toward a quote the chamber meets each year to maintainBrookhaven’s certification as a retirement community. Thatcertification will be the subject of some of the information Burtondistributes.

While Burton is busy promoting Brookhaven, Sones – who hadalready planned to attend the downtown party privately – will beseeking out Mississippians with connections.

“I’m going to see if we can make contacts with influentialpeople with Mississippi connections … who might be able to helpsway some businesses toward Mississippi, particularly Brookhaven,”he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing who has Brookhaven/LincolnCounty connections up there.”

Sones said he did not have a particular list of hands to shakein New York City, but he estimated there will be “several hundred”influential Mississippians with which he can discuss SouthwestMississippi.

Sones, the chairman of the Mississippi School of the ArtsFoundation, is also making the trip to support MSA student andrecent “American Idol” finalist Jasmine Murray, who will perform atthe event. The foundation is sponsoring her performance, hesaid.

“We hope to get attention drawn to MSA,” Sones said. “We keeplooking for sponsors and participants in the arts industry, andcertainly there are a lot of those in New York. Hopefully, somehave Mississippi connections.”

Other than working to promote Brookhaven and Lincoln County,Burton and Sones will also get to experience home 1,100 away fromhome.

Joining Murray as entertainment for the Mississippi Picnic willbe blues performers Super Chikan, the Delta Mountain Boys and JonParis. The festival air will also be saturated by the smell ofcatfish, hushpuppies and other Southern favorite foods, withcooking provided by Simmons Farm Raised Catfish of Yazoo City,McAlister’s Deli and several Mississippi chefs.

The event will also feature many Mississippi artists and theirwork.