Kimberly J. Williams
I normally don’t discuss past events, but I did want to give you all a recap of this weekend’s 25th annual Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival in Helena-West Helena. That title, Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival, is usually followed by a parenthetical phrase stating “formerly known as the King Biscuit Blues Festival.” It doesn’t matter why or how the festival got a new name several years ago. All that matters is this…THE BISCUIT IS BACK!!
Munnie Jordan, executive director of the festival, took the stage with a group of festival volunteers and supporters right be B.B. King took the stage on Thursday night. I wasn’t able to be near the stage for the announcement (although I had been told a little earlier WHAT the announcement was)…but I definitely knew WHEN it was made. The crowd went INSANE!! For six years, the dedicated supporters of this festival had been waiting to “reclaim” the festival name…and the wait was over! To find out more about the “new” festival name, click here.
As for the festival itself, there’s only one word I can use to describe it: INCREDIBLE! The weather, which is always hit-and-miss during October, was perfect! There was a light breeze coming across the levee. We couldn’t have paid for better weather. The crowd was full of music lovers…from around the corner, around the state and around the world. For many, it was their 25th. For others, it may have been their 19th or their second or their first. Regardless, when I talked to them (and I talked SO much that I have no voice today!), they were so happy to be there.
The music…well, the music is the pulse of not only the festival, but of the Arkansas Delta. This year’s performers rocked the stage and the audience. From the Kentucky Headhunters to Marcia Ball to Michael Burks to Dr. John and Taj Mahal, the music was top-notch.
I volunteered all three days of the festival, so I didn’t get the chance to see or do much. In fact, I didn’t get a chance to take more than a few photos with my iPhone. Luckily for me, Zoie Clift, the ADPT travel writer for southwest Arkansas, is a music fan and was on the scene with her camera. Zoie captured the photos on today’s blog…and she’s graciously allowing me to use them. Thanks, Z!
I just want to congratulate all those who made the festival happen…it’s a HUGE list of people who volunteer their time, not only the three days of the festival, but throughout the year. It’s definitely one for the record books.
On a personal note, the festival is, for me, an opportunity to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, and spend time with those people I never get to see enough.
It’s not too early to make plans for next year! Join us in historic Helena on Oct. 6-9, 2011, for the 26th annual King Biscuit Blues Festival!