Picnic in New York City's Central Park Celebrates Mississippi Artists

Contact: Jennifer Spann, Public Relations Manager 601.359.3449
jspann@mississippi.org

Jackson, Miss. (May 29, 2008) – Great arts, hours of blues music, delicious fried catfish and hushpuppies as well as a heap of southern hospitality are all on tap for the 29th Annual Mississippi Picnic held in New York City’s Central Park East Meadow (97th Street and 5th Avenue) from noon – 6:00 p.m., Saturday, June 7, 2008.

This year’s theme is Art in the Park and will pay tribute to the state’s talented artists. Some of the Mississippi artists participating in this year’s event will be Lea Barton, Nancy Branton, Linda Dahlke, Teena Grantham, Karen Jamison, Ellen Langford and Lisa Paris. Their artwork will on display and for sale in the PORTICO Jackson Arts Pavilion.

Karen Jamison, a Columbus artist, was commissioned by The New York Society to do an original piece for the 29th anniversary of the Mississippi Picnic. Jamison will be at the picnic to sign the limited-edition commemorative prints that will be on sale.

Simmons Farm Raised Catfish in Yazoo City, Mississippi will provide 500 pounds of catfish and 120 pounds of hushpuppies for the picnic. The catfish will be prepared by the Mississippi Catfish Cooking Team from Madison, Mississippi and plans are to serve at least 1,000 people. The catfish continues to be a major draw for the picnic and Simmons has provided the fish for the past five years.

Adding to the southern flavor of the picnic will be McAlister’s Deli, who will be on hand to serve their famous sweet tea.

Blues guitarist Jon Paris will provide musical entertainment at this year’s picnic. Also performing will be Michael Hill, a musician being sponsored by 651ARTS of Brooklyn, New York. Mr. Hill is a Mississippi musician who has been in the New York area performing with the Mississippi Delta Blues Heritage Project.

Governor and Mrs. Haley Barbour will be attending his fifth picnic this year as Governor. “The picnic is a great opportunity to showcase Mississippi’s unique culture and hospitality to the people of New York and give folks with Mississippi ties that live there a little taste of home,” Governor Barbour said.

The Barbours will be joined by economic developers and tourism officials who will use this event to promote doing business in the state, increase tourism efforts and recruit potential retirees to Mississippi. Some cities being represented will include Hattiesburg, Jackson, Tupelo, West Point, Batesville and Louisville.

Special to this year’s picnic will be a host of contests, which will include a Best Dessert Contest, Best Picnic Spread and Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest. Picnickers are encouraged to bring their artwork and enter the Amateur Art Contest. A Grits Sculpture Contest is being brought back by popular demand and tips for preparing the grits for sculpting can be found online at www.nymspicnic.com.

The Mississippi Picnic was started in 1979 when a handful of native Mississippians living in New York City worked together to create an event that would highlight their state in a positive way. The result was the annual picnic that brings thousands of Mississippians together every year in New York’s Central Park and the creation of the New York Society for the Preservation of Mississippi Heritage.

Rachel McPherson, one of the founders of the picnic, noted, “This picnic is a way for those residing in the New York City area to connect with Mississippi,” said McPherson. “Those who are from Mississippi can reconnect to those things familiar from home. Those who are curious about Mississippi can come to learn about the things Mississippians are most proud of – the food, the music, the culture and our people.”

“This event guarantees good publicity for Mississippi, promotes tourism to the state and educate the public about specific regions of the state,” McPherson added.

Mississippi universities and alumni associations will be on hand to market their universities. Many schools have coordinated alumni gatherings and use the event as a recruiting tool in the northeast. The picnic also helps college friends stay in touch and offers colleges fundraising opportunities.

For more information about the picnic, contact Rachel McPherson at 718.788.2988 or visit the picnic website at www.nymspicnic.com.

catfish
 

Mississippi artist Karen Jamison, of Columbus, displays the original art she created for the 29th Annual New York Picnic where limited editions of the artwork will be on sale. The piece was commissioned by The New York Society.

Photo credit: The Commercial Dispatch, Columbus, Mississippi

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About Mississippi Development Authority
Mississippi Development Authority is the State of Mississippi’s lead economic and community development agency. Nearly 300 employees are engaged in providing services to businesses, communities and workers in the state. While the agency is best known for its efforts to recruit new businesses to Mississippi, the Authority provides services to promote tourism, help communities improve their quality of place, help existing employers identify and meet opportunities and challenges and help workers improve their skills – all with the goal of improving the quality of life and economic well-being of Mississippians. For more information, visit MDA’s website at www.mississippi.org.