This past May marked the first time in a dozen years that I didn’t spend the first Saturday of that month helping work at the Jerry Clower Festival in downtown Yazoo City.
My wife Jamie won a free cruise to Cozumel for recruiting the most new members to a Rotary Club in our region so it wasn’t hard to miss it this year. This was an opportunity to do something we probably couldn’t normally afford to do.
It would have been harder, however, if I had realized that it would be the last Jerry Clower Festival. I have made a lot of great memories at that festival over the years.
I can take a look around my office and see memories from the festival from over the years. There’s James hanging upside down on a bungee cord jump. One of my favorite photos is him posing in front of a classic hot rod with both of his arms in the air and his head leaned back. He insisted on posing like that in front of the cars he really liked for some reason.
There are photos of my daughter Elsie riding the kid’s train when she was so little she still had a pacifier in her mouth. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve ridden that train with my children, I could probably pay cash for a train of my own.
Another favorite photo is of her dancing with Jamie Isonhood playing rock n roll in the background. I could never get tired of listening to Jamie Isonhood play the piano, and Elsie has never failed to start dancing immediately whenever she hears him hit those keys.
Most of the photos of our youngest child Jase seem to be of him eating snow cones.
I took a lot of photos of my kids of the festival, but I took many more of other children having fun. Many of those photos were published in this newspaper.
It wasn’t hard to find good photos of kids having fun because the festival was always designed to be something for families to enjoy together.
That was always the priority. The festival spent as much money on children’s activities as it did on music.
The Jerry Clower Festival has been great for our community, and it wouldn’t have happened without some hard working volunteers.
No one did more than Colon and Brenda Johnston. They could have called the festival a second job if they were getting paid for their efforts. The paperwork alone was more than I think I could handle along with their regular workload. They were always the first ones there and the last ones to leave.
JoAnn Adams has been a driving force as well. Not only has she always been involved in planning and budgeting, but she has always worked the festival all day, donated the use of space in her buildings and mobilized a small army to help. Her and her husband Paul are the reason why the car show has grown every year.
Precious Banks, Linda Cader and Gary and Linda Andrews also have been dedicated to the festival from the beginning. Without their contributions it couldn’t happen.
We have had some great times over the years, and we’ve heard some fantastic music from Marty Stewart to the Krackerjacks.
All the memories aren’t great. Rain has been a major obstacle at times. So many people showed up to hear Crossin’ Dixon the year it was rained out after their first song that we later held a free show at the park to make up for it.
I’m sad to see the Jerry Clower Festival go, but all things must come to an end. Fifteen years is a long lifespan for a festival, especially a free festival where a small group of volunteers must raise funds every year to make it happen.
Hopefully something new and exciting will take its place. The Yazoo County Convention & Visitors Bureau has grants available to promote events that will attract visitors to our community.
Thanks to everyone who helped make the Jerry Clower Festival a fun event for 15 years.