As the proclaimed Blueberry Capital of Mississippi, Poplarville puts a lot of time and effort into the annual Blueberry Jubilee. An eagerly anticipated part of the festival comes from storytellers carrying on the generations-old tradition of oral storytelling.
The Poplarville Storytellers Guild conducts the annual delight. Part one, held the Friday evening before the Jubilee, includes music as well as spirited storytelling, usually outdoors. The second part, held during the Jubilee, provides listeners with an air conditioned break as the speakers spin their tales in the Christian Life Building of First United Methodist Church of Poplarville, near the edge of the Jubilee’s footprint.
Friday night included music by two local groups, The Jordan River Band and Cross Ties. As the setting sun cast long shadows across the stage, emcee Mary Etta Moody introduced a number of guests and guild members and told her own stories in between guests.
Her first order of business was to introduce two of the newly elected Blueberry Jubilee royalty, 2014 Miss Blueberry Queen Larke Bickham and 2014 Teen Miss Blueberry Queen Gabrielle Benefield. Bickham is a student at Pearl River Community College, while Benefield attends Middle School of Poplarville.
Moody began with a story she called Ms. Buzzard, a tall tale of a hungry buzzard creating her own entrees on a hot day. She was followed by Wiggins resident Lorraine Craig, who shared a story of a well-loved puppy.
Between speakers, Moody told how her family became known as storytellers back in her native Angie, LA. She then introduced another Wiggins storyteller, Bill Rester. He told of a youthful prank involving a haunted house hoax which had listeners guffawing in delight.
Moody related her experiences with a crank telephone on a party-line as a young girl, then introduced Colorado-native, Poplarville transplant David St. Louis. His story of a family elk hunt and resulting meeting with the game warden earned delighted laughter.
For a change of pace, Moody paid tribute to three members of the Guild who have passed away. Founder Hattie Gentry and storytellers Al Saucer and Archie Weiss were remembered and honored with a story about Weiss relating to naugahyde couches and his fishing skills.
Poplarville’s Papa Joe Wesley closed the storytelling portion of the program with a rousing story about a veterinarian, a rock and a high bluff on the Pearl River at Jackson.
Poplarville’s Cross Ties wrapped up the evening with bluegrass music and sweet harmonies.
The Poplarville Storytellers Guild meets on the first Tuesday evening of each month at the Christian Life Center of First United Methodist Church, corner of Julia Street and Magnolia Street in Poplarville.
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