Jerry Clower Festival Saturday

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

The annual Jerry Clower Festival returns to Yazoo City this weekend with a variety of music, food, arts and crafts and other events.

The family-friendly event will be held on Main Street in Yazoo City this Saturday with the popular band The Krackerjacks headlining the musical entertainment.

There will also be a variety of arts and crafts, food vendors, classic cars, free children activities and other musical acts.

In addition to the festival, the Yazoo Arts Council will also be hosting a variety of events this week.

Starting on Friday, May 3, the Arts Council will host "Tea for Three", a stage play featuring three former First Ladies of the United States, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, and Pat Nixon. 

Sponsored by Bank Plus, the play was originally written by Eric H. Weinberger and published by the Dramatic Publishing Company.  The three actresses in the play, Kathryn Dawkins, Betty Jo Mahaffey, and Wendie Sheppard, are members of the Center Players Community Theater in Madison.  In the stage drama, each of these ladies perform monologues as they portray a First Lady of the United States as their husbands' administrations come to a close.  Kathryn Dawkins plays Lady Bird Johnson, who defends her husband, Lyndon B. Johnson's quirks as President, admits in her monologue that "Politics is his oxygen."  Wendie Sheppard plays Pat Nixon on the eve of her husband Richard Nixon's resignation, and recalls happier times in her marriage before exploding in anger on stage about the Watergate Scandal and the political world in that time.

Betty Jo Mahaffey plays Betty Ford, who prepares to meet with the new incoming First Lady Rosalyn Carter, and admits to being lost about life after the White House when she lived there with her husband Gerald Ford.

"Tea for Three" has won numerous awards in the Mississippi Theatre Association, including Best Production, and also performed in the regional competition in February.  The play, which is known for its humor and historical accuracy, has been performed in many sold out shows across Mississippi.

"What makes it so interesting is you meet the ladies, you learn a little but about their early life and how they met their husbands, their early years in politics, and then their time in the White House itself," Kathryn Dawkins said.

"Its got some really funny parts, but then it's got some really poignant serious parts too, like when Lady Bird talks about the Kennedy Assassination," Betty Jo Mahaffey said.

Holly Coleman of the Yazoo Arts Council said that they are excited to bring the play to Yazoo City for the weekend of the Jerry Clower Festival.

"Its going to be a really good event," she said. "We are bringing another experience to Yazoo City for people to enjoy. We try to offer the public different things ranging from not just visuals arts and painting, but also drama and language arts as well."

Curtain call for "Tea for Three" will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 3, inside the auditorium of the Triangle Cultural Center, located at 332 North Main Street in Yazoo City.

A reception will be held inside of the Triangle Cultural Center at 6 p.m. before the play begins.  Coleman said that attendees will be able to view some of the art displayed on the first floor of the Triangle and enjoy refreshments while they wait.  She added that there will also be a membership table set up for anyone who may be interested in joining the Yazoo Arts Council.

Tickets for the play are $20 for adults, and $10 for students.  Coleman said that many tickets have already been sold for the event, but people can still purchase a ticket by calling 662-746-7776 or stopping by Good Hope General Merchandise on Main Street.

The Yazoo Arts Council Activities will continue during the Jerry Clower Festival on Saturday, May 4.  Beginning at 9 a.m. the Arts Council will host a Plein Air Painting Class with local artist Benny Melton.  Attendees are asked to bring their choice of personal art supplies, including a sketchbook, pencils and charcoal, pastels and paper, oils, water colors, acrylics, and pen and ink.  Students will hear a brief seminar about the principals on light, color, perspective, and other qualities of fine art at the Triangle before breaking for lunch.  After lunch the students will partake in their own individual projects various spots in historic downtown Yazoo City.  Tickets for the Plein Air Painting course are $25 for Yazoo Arts Council members and $50 for non-members.  Coleman said that seating is limited for this event, so people should call 662-746-7776 to reserve a space.

Another event on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. is the children's play Pinocchio, performed by a travelling group of actors from New Stage Theatre in Jackson.  This free event for the children of the community is sponsored in part by the Junior Auxiliary of Yazoo City.  This interactive play will follow the little puppet Pinocchio on his quest to become a real boy.  Children will watch and interact with the characters in the play as Pinocchio discovers that he can only become a real boy by being truthful, selfless and kind to others.

For more information about these and other programs from the Yazoo Arts Council, please call 662-746-7776.