The official State of Mississippi Bluegrass Championship was held on May 21, 2011, in conjunction with the Down From The Hills Heritage Music Festival.
You should have been there!
There were approximately 60 contestants vying for the $9,000 dollars in prize money. But I would guess that having the trophy engraved as the State of Mississippi Champion was way more important than the money. Now that is something to be proud of.
It was a pleasure to co-host this event along with Brandon Presley, our Northern District Public Service Commissioner. He was a pleasure to work with. Kay Bain, host of the Morning Show on TV 9, presented some special music between competitions.
A big thanks should go out to Jill Smith, Director of the Union County Heritage Museum; Stanley Wise of the Union County Extension Office, and Bethany Dalton for their tireless efforts in facilitating this event.
Wow! How many cities host a state championship?
There was competition in mandolin, dobro, banjo (my personal favorite), guitar, fiddle, and finally band. There was some awesome talent in these contests and I want to encourage you to come next year.
As good as the competitors were, the highlight of the day was a performance by Ben Hall. Ben, a former international thumb picking champion, put on a display of pickin’ that you won’t often hear. I closed my eyes and thought for sure Chet Adkins was on the stage–but no, it was Ben Hall.
If there was a down side to the day, it was the fact that this State Championship was not supported by any of our local officials by their attendance.
I would hope in the future that this event will continue to grow and be supported by our city and county elected leaders as well as all of our citizens of our area.
This attendance will help stamp this event as one supported by our city and county as a worthy endeavor.
So, get ready for next year. Ya’ll get out your guitars and fiddles and do the pickin’ and I’ll do the grinning. Heck, maybe next year we will get Allison Krause and Union Station to come and do a set for us. Now that would be awesome.