In 1969, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville initiated a remarkable performing arts series called the Mississippi River Festival. Over 12 summer seasons, between 1969 and 1980, the festival presented 353 events showcasing performers in a variety of musical genres, including classical, chamber, vocal, ragtime, blues, folk, bluegrass, barbershop, country, and rock, as well as dance and theater. During those years, more than one million visitors flocked to the spacious Gyo Obata-designed campus in the countryside near St. Louis. The Mississippi River Festival began as a partnership promoting regional cooperation in the realm of the performing arts. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville invited the St. Louis Symphony to establish residence on campus and to offer a summer season. To host the symphony, the university created an outdoor concert venue within a natural amphitheater by installing a large circus tent, a stage and acoustic shell, and a sophisticated sound system. To appeal to the widest possible audience, the university included contemporary popular musicians in the series. The audacity of the undertaking, the charm of the venue, the popularity of the artists, the excellence of the performances, and the nostalgic memory of warm summer evenings have combined to endow the festival with legendary status among those who attended.
Everybody knows about community festivals that celebrate the good olâ daysâevents like Rattlesnake Roundup, Peanut Days, and Mule Day. Countless towns around the South stage them. They set aside one weekend a year, rope off some parking, and celebrate some local theme on the courthouse lawn or in a nearby pasture, touting lost days of imagined glory.
The phenomenon is rapidly proliferating across the region, but until now the deeper significance of these hometown events has not been explored. In Ghost Dancing on the Cracker Circuit Rodger Brown takes the reader on a road trip across the South. He visits many festivals and unweaves their webs to find the meaning that underlies them. Contrary to popular interpretation of them as times of celebration and fund-raising, Brown discerns them to be times of mourning. Behind the scrim of jolly slideshows he find communities responding to economic restructuring and cultural change. As he travels across the South, he absorbs vivid impressions of boosterism and cornball symbolism. Along this comical trail that he terms the âcracker circuitâ he perceives how these seasonal events are staged by white sponsors attempting to resurrect a splendid past that actually never existed. He likens them to legendary Indians âghost dancingâ in ceremonial performances staged to conjure up a lost paradise. In chapters with such titles as âStuffing Sin in a Lard Buckerâ and âAunt Beeâs Death Certificateâ Brown not only sketches intriguing portraits of people and places but also makes fascinating revelationsâthe political meaning of Green Acres and Gilliganâs Island , the real story behind the Hatfield and McCoy Feud, and the surprising role of The Andy Griffith Show in contemporary southern mythography. Brownâs adventurous, good-natured inspection of this pervasive cultural curiosity discloses the state of the South at the turn of the millennium.
Nestled in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas, Tyler is known as the âRose Capital of America.â While the moniker is well-deserved given the local rose industry, the Rose Festival, and its claim to Americaâs largest municipal rose garden, Tylerâs history is just as colorful as any rose. From the days when it hosted the largest Confederate prisoner-of-war camp west of the Mississippi River, through the years when cotton, fruit trees, and then roses became the local cash crops, to the time when the East Texas oil field was discovered and launched a new economy, Tyler boasts a fascinating past.
The Pinkster King and the King of Kongo presents the history of the nationâs forgotten Dutch slave community and free Dutch-speaking African Americans from seventeenth-century New Amsterdam to nineteenth-century New York and New Jersey. It also develops a provocative new interpretation of one of Americaâs most intriguing black folkloric traditions, Pinkster. Jeroen Dewulf rejects the usual interpretation of this celebration of a âslave kingâ as a form of carnival. Instead, he shows that it is a ritual rooted in mutual-aid and slave brotherhood traditions. By placing these traditions in an Atlantic context, Dewulf identifies striking parallels to royal election rituals in slave communities elsewhere in the Americas, and he traces these rituals to the ancient Kingdom of Kongo and the impact of Portuguese culture in West-Central Africa.
Dewulfâs focus on the social capital of slaves follows the mutual aid to seventeenth-century Manhattan. He suggests a much stronger impact of Manhattanâs first slave community on the development of African American identity in New York and New Jersey than hitherto assumed.
While the earliest works on slave culture in a North American context concentrated on an assumed process of assimilation according to European standards, later studies pointed out the need to look for indigenous African continuities. The Pinkster King and the King of Kongo suggests the necessity for an increased focus on the substantial contact that many Africans had with Europeanâprimarily Portugueseâcultures before they were shipped as slaves to the Americas. The book has already garnered honors as the winner of the Richard O. Collins Award in African Studies, the New Netherland Institute Hendricks Award, and the Clague and Carol Van Slyke Prize.
Caught in the crossfires of Mississippi's racial tensions, Parrish McCollough is shadowed by secrets and haunted by spirits. She wrestles with "The Truth About Life After Death" after she sees her father's ghost sitting beside his casket. A gifted artist, she desperately hopes to attend college, but there's no money. She fears her mother will lapse into madness if she goes, and she keeps getting distracted by the wrong kind of man. When Civil Rights workers arrive in Mississippi, Parrish takes a risk that carries her onto the razor's edge between living and dying, learns the truth about the soul's survival...and finds an unexpected romance. Lush, vivid, and wildly entertaining, Where the Lake Becomes the River brings to life an unforgettable extended Southern family, along with its dreams, disappointments--and yes, even its beloved ghosts. Where the Lake Becomes the River won the Novello Literary Award, underwritten by Charles and Katherine Frazier's Cold Mountain Foundation. It was nominated for the Sir Walter Raleigh Literary Prize, named a finalist for Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year Awards, and Included in Publishers Weekly Fall Preview of books.
According to Pauline Adema, you smell Gilroy, California, before you see it. In Garlic Capital of the World, the folklorist and culinary anthropologist examines the role of food and festivals in creating a place brand or marketable identity. The author scrutinizes how Gilroy, California, successfully transformed a negative association with the pungent bulb into a highly successful tourism and marketing campaign.
This book explores how local initiatives led to an iconization of the humble product in Gilroy. The city, a well-established agricultural center and bedroom community south of San Francisco, rapidly built a place-brand identity based on its now-famous moniker, "Garlic Capital of the World." To understand Gilroy's success in transforming a local crop into a tourist draw, Adema contrasts the development of this now-thriving festival with events surrounding the launch and demise of the PigFest in Coppell, Texas. Indeed, the Garlic Festival is so successful that the event is all that many people know about Gilroy.
Adema explores the creation and subsequent selling of foodscapes or food-themed place identities. This seemingly ubiquitous practice is readily visible across the country at festivals celebrating edibles like tomatoes, peaches, spinach, and even cauliflower. Food, Adema contends, is an attractive focus for image makers charged with community building and place differentiation. Not only is it good to eat; food can be a palatable and marketable symbol for a town or region.
Iowans embraced aviation from its very beginning. In the late 1800s, Keokukâs Baldwin brothers headlined Lee County Chautauqua festivals with balloon ascensions. Two decades later, early powered-flight daredevils like Lincoln Beachey, Glenn Messer, and Eugene Ely thrilled huge crowds along the Mississippi River from Decorah to Fort Madison. Dubuqueâs Clifton âOleâ Oleson barnstormed from Oelwein to Mount Pleasant and in communities in between. Visionaries like the Livingston brothers from Cedar Falls and Davenportâs Ralph Cram, Don Luscombe, and Billy Cook started air taxi and freight lines, flight and mechanic schools, and aircraft manufacturing facilities. Iowa City became an original U.S. Airmail stop and, during World War II, Ottumwa and other communities operated training sites for military aviation, with women playing a major role. The postwar establishment of regional air carriers became commonplace, and today a new generation is leading Eastern Iowa into the 21st century while preserving the memory of those who started it all.
Deep in the heart of the southern Appalachian Mountains lies Roan Mountain, the second-highest peak east of the Mississippi and home to one of the most breathtaking, naturally recurring phenomenon in the world: 600 acres of Catawba rhododendron that bloom each year in mid-June. In an effort to promote tourism and draw attention to this area, North Carolina and Tennessee joined together to form the Rhododendron Festival in 1946. As attendance increased, it soon became necessary for each state to hold a separate festival, and in 1952, the first North Carolina Rhododendron Festival took place. Since then, Bakersville, a village nestled at the base of Roan Mountain, has hosted the North Carolina Rhododendron Festival. Visitors and locals gather to pay homage to one of natureâs most magnificent wonders. After nearly seven decades, the festival continues to hold the distinction of being among the oldest and most respected festivals in the Southeast, confirming its potential to endure as long as the mountain itself.
Made in Mexico examines the aesthetic, political, and sociopolitical aspects of tourism in southern Mexico, particularly in the state of Oaxaca. Tourists seeking "authenticity" buy crafts and festival tickets and spend even more on travel expenses. What does a craft object or a festival moment need to look like or sound like to please both tradition bearers and tourists in terms of aesthetics? Under what conditions are transactions between these parties psychologically healthy and sustainable? What political factors can interfere with the success of this negotiation, and what happens when the process breaks down? With Subcommandante Marcos and the Zapatistas still operating in neighboring Chiapas and unrest on the rise in Oaxaca itself, these are not merely theoretical problems.
Chris Goertzen analyzes the nature and meaning of a single craft object, a woven pillowcase from Chiapas, thus previewing what the book will accomplish in greater depth in Oaxaca. He introduces the book's guiding concepts, especially concerning the types of aesthetic intensification that have replaced fading cultural contexts, and the tragic partnership between ethnic distinctiveness and oppressive politics. He then brings these concepts to bear on crafts in Oaxaca and on Oaxaca's Guelaguetza, the anchor for tourism in the state and a festival with an increasingly contested meaning.