Mississippians Picnic in Central Park

By  | 

It was 88 degrees and humid. Folks were eating fried catfish and hushpuppies and listening to Terry "Big T" Williams sing about the Delta, while the governor of Mississippi greeted old friends.

Just another day in New York City's Central Park. Like every Mississippi governor since 1979, Haley Barbour showed up Saturday for the annual New York Mississippi Picnic in Central Park.

The picnic was established 26 years ago by Rachel McPherson after she moved to New York for graduate school from Monticello.

Though fellow Republican, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was outside the city celebrating his daughter's wedding, Barbour took the stage and thanked him for the Mississippi weather. New York was hotter and stickier than Jackson, Miss.

McPherson, who also founded the New York Society for the Preservation of Mississippi Heritage, says that she has over 5300 Mississippians with New York City addresses on her mailing list.

She said that this year's picnic is meant to celebrate the Mississippi blues with the live music from deep in the delta.

Simmons Farm Raised Catfish of Yazoo City flew in 360 pounds of catfish and 80 pounds of hushpuppies for the event.

The picnic is also a marketing tool for the state to attract tourists and retirees. It was attended by some curious New Yorkers, alumni of Mississippi colleges and universities and a few hundred people with Mississippi roots.