Town planning new Railroad Festival in Oct.

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The town of Hazlehurst will be celebrating its rich artsheritage the first weekend in October at the first Rockin’ RailroadFestival.

Event organizers say now is the time for vendors to throw theirhats in on the fun.

“We did this to establish an annual hometown festival toshowcase the rich musical history, build pride in our town, andbring people of different backgrounds together,” said HazlehurstChamber of Commerce Board Member John Huntington.

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The event, which starts at 10 a.m. on Oct. 3 and goes until 9p.m., will showcase 12 local musical artists, with Hazlehurstnative, Copiah Academy graduate, and up-and-coming country musicianPat Roper as the main event. The Colonels, a Brookhaven band, willalso be a main attraction.

Chamber board member Janet Foster said festival organizers arelooking for arts and crafts vendors for the event, which will focuson local musicians, authors and artists.

“We’re trying to stay away from the flea market atmosphere, butwe want any kind of art, by all means,” Foster said, adding thatvendors are accepted upon approval.

Chamber President Joe Buck Coates said several locally basedauthors will be signing books on the grounds of the festival aswell.

And, of course, part of the attraction to the event will ofcourse be the Robert Johnson lore that permeates the town’shistory. Johnson, a Hazlehurst native said to be one of thegreatest blues guitar players of all time, supposedly sold his soulto the devil.

“Obviously one of the biggest tourism draws we have as far asthe arts is the Robert Johnson connection,” Coates said. “Peoplecome by here all the time looking for Robert Johnson memorabilia.People come from all over the world for the experience of seeinghis hometown.”

Event organizers said they didn’t realize when they set up thefestival that it falls on the same day as Brookhaven’s Ole BrookFestival. Coates said the weekend would be changed in the future,but that hopefully people will enjoy both festivals, as they areboth daylong events and go into the night.

Foster said anyone interested in putting up a vendor stand atthe festival can call the Hazlehurst Chamber of Commerce at601-894-3752.