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Fine weather for Founders Day in Wesson — Gospel music Friday night, vendors and Jeff Bates Saturday

A little town is holding a big festival Saturday, and the party extends far into the night.

The Town of Wesson will celebrate its 154th birthday on Saturday with the 29th annual Founders Day festival, a day-long downtown get-together that more or less shuts down Hwy. 51 and attracts thousands of visitors from around the region for visiting, relaxing and dropping cash on vendors dealing everything from hotdogs to handmade clothing to rusty iron antiques.

Wesson Chamber of Commerce President Janet Currie said Founders Day, which began almost 30 years ago as a June event that coincided with dairy month before being moved up the calendar for the more pleasant weather in April, is a family-oriented event that brings people together.

“You meet a lot of old friends, make a lot of new friends, have some good fun and see some quality entertainment,” she said.

Founders Day begins tonight with a performance by the Copiah-Lincoln Community College jazz band at 6 p.m. Local gospel group Zion’s Way will perform at 7 p.m.

The festival proper begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, when more than 75 vendors open their tents to sell food, clothes, handmade handbags, arts and crafts, jewelry, toys, antiques, custom T-shirts, fun jumps for children and maybe even a firearm or two, not for children. Some previous Founders Days have been a little on the skinny side, but this weekend’s event should be packed tightly with shopping opportunities.

The opening ceremony begins at 10 a.m. with the presentation of this year’s Founders Day Queen, Elizabeth Shirley, and the chamber’s junior ambassadors. The Founders Day parade rolls through the crowded streets at 11 a.m. The popular hotdog-eating contest begins at 4 p.m.

Entertainment begins at high noon, with a long lineup of musicians and singers.

“We just wanted to kick it up a notch with our entertainment,” said chamber treasurer Marilyn Britt. “We wanted to add some big names this year, and we also have local entertainers from our community, and together I think that makes it special.”

This year’s performers include Christian Scott, Topher Brown and Marvin Curtis, Mississippi Spirit Competitive Cheer, Wesson Indoor Percussion, the Co-Lin Sojourners, the Co-Lin Ambassadors, Camilla and the Good Time Dancers, Vanesha Harris and Eric Sharp.

Former American Idol contestant Skylar Laine-James performs at 6 p.m., and local country music musician Jeff Bates goes onstage at 7 p.m. A fireworks show begins at the city park at 9 p.m., and a street dance closes out Founders Day from 9:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. 

This year’s Founders Day will take place under mostly sunny skies with high temperatures comfortably limited to 79 degrees. Lows will drop down into the low 50s during the night’s concerts, fireworks and dance.