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Purely Mississippi: Small Town Harvest Festival Celebrates Magnolia State Foundations

JACKSON, Mississippi– Purely Mississippi is News Mississippi’s new segment celebrating the culture of the Hospitality State. The Small Town Harvest Festival at the ag museum celebrates the practices that formed what is purely Mississippi. 

Walking down the wooden bridge and through the wrought iron gate at the entrance to the Mississippi Ag Museum, one would think it’s just another cloudy November day. But as soon as you round the curve to the Small Town exhibit, that paved road turns into a gravel walk down memory lane.

The Small Town Harvest Festival at the ag museum demonstrates and honors the practices that built early Mississippi. The whirring of engines dating back to the 1920’s, the gentle rocking of old rocking chairs on the porch of the 4-H building, and the rhythmic pulse of the cotton gin lull the festival-goer back to a time before Ipads, smartphones and Twitter.

“We own the oldest operating cotton gin in the United States,” says Fred Temple, the cotton gin master at the museum, “it was built in 1892, it took us three years to restore it.”

Then there’s the Macintosh Blacksmith Shop, where Lyle Winn was demonstrating how to make a bottle opener with scraps of metal and the flame. The constant sharp strike of metal on the anvil kept the beat with the huge blower fanning the flames to the forge.

“I want to show this to someone so they can save time, not making the mistakes I made,” says Winn. To him, blacksmithing isn’t a dying art, it’s just not being done full time anymore.

Beyond the general store filled with wooden slingshots, tops, and jars of muscadine jelly was the education building were Amy Clark sat rocking away, churning butter with a baby on her side.

“It’s important to show this to kids,” says Clark, “to show them not everything comes from the grocery store.”  She only stopped churning to grab a tighter hold of the child on her hip before swapping hands and churning again.

It’s the churning, whirring, ginning and livestock raising shown during the festival that brought Mississippi to what it is today. Unique, honoring the past, purely Mississippi.

Here’s a look at the cotton snow at the festival:

And if churning butter isn’t your thing but you want that pure taste:


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