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J u l y CONTENTS 2016 • VOLUME 13 • NO. 7

features

48 Road Trip! Planning trips to the best eateries 54 Honored Captains Biloxi’s esteemed charter boat captains

60 Summer Culture Explore family-friendly museums and parks

departments 14 Living Well Jump into swimming--safely

42 A Day Away Sardis, Mississippi

18 Notables Memphis’ own Joe Birch

46 Greaters Goods 66 Homegrown Lit Coolers

22 Exploring Art In the spirit of glass

68 Southern Harmony America’s Oak Ridge Boys

26 Exploring Books “Deep South”

72 Table Talk It’s literally a seafood revolution

30 Into the Wild Heading to Cane Creek

76 In Good Spirits Summer’s favorite pina colada

34 Exploring Cuisine Clarksdale’s Sweet Magnolia

78 Exploring Events

38 Exploring Destinations Louisiana’s quiet gem, St. Francisville

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80 Reflections Pull Me

54

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editor’s note } july

We’re all Red, White and Blue It’s hard to think about celebrations or fireworks these days when it seems our American world is anything but peaceful. Whether it’s the ongoing bitter political banter or the recent tragedy in Orlando, the divisions just keep growing. But, maybe like others, I have to believe there’s no better time to remember our common roots, our histories, struggles and triumphs than this month. Our stories this month are cool…literally! Not only have we focused on summer foods like gelato, two of our companies are definitely Americanmade, even Southern born. Lit Coolers is rocking the cooler world in a very short time. Check out this ingenuity on page 66. Likewise, down in Clarksdale, Sweet Magnolia taught me a few things about gelato, other than I like to eat buckets of the stuff. Eric helps us get around the state to celebrate and indulge at some of our favorite eateries. I know it’s hot already, but what a great time to climb in the car and check out a couple. Meanwhile, on page 60 Robin helps parents fill kids’ summer free time with more cool ideas at area museums. Writer Jim Shettles caught up with Memphis’ own Joe Birch who shares his story about growing up, Memphis, and his work. There’s something comforting in our local familiar voices during times of turmoil.

May 2016 • Vol. 13 No.7

PUBLISHER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR Adam Mitchell

PUBLISHER & ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Paula Mitchell

EDITOR-AT-LARGE Karen Ott Mayer ASSISTANT EDITOR Andrea Brown Ross Finally, perhaps the coolest story comes from the coast, where Chere caught up with two ship captains---both of whom earned a prestigious award. And both from Biloxi, Mississippi! As you hang a flag or head to a barbecue, remember on this soil, we’re all red, white and blue---and let’s accept our diverse talents, rich cultures and the peacemakers among us. From all of us at DeSoto, we wish everyone a Happy 4th of July!

Karen

CONTRIBUTORS J. Eric Eckerd Chere Coen Devin Greaney Jim Beaugez Jim Shettles Robin Gallaher Branch Jeanni Brosius James Richardson Debra Pamplin Clint Kimberling Charlene Oldham

PUBLISHED BY DeSoto Media Co.

2375 Memphis St. Ste 205 Hernando, MS 38632 662.429.4617 Fax 662.449.5813

ADVERTISING INFO: Paula Mitchell 901-262-9887 Paula@DeSotoMag.com

on the cover There’s no better summer treat like fresh gelato! Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream and is made with a base of milk, cream, and sugar, and flavored with fruit and nut purées. Read more about Clarksdale’s famous Sweet Magnolia Gelato Company on page 34. Photo courtesy of: Hugh Balthrop, Creative Director 1540 Desoto Avenue Clarksdale, MS 38614 662.313.6551 www.sweetmagnoliagelato.com

DeSotoMagazine.com Get social with us!

©2016 DeSoto Media Co. DeSoto Magazine must give permission for any material contained herein to be reproduced in any manner. Any advertisements published in DeSoto Magazine do not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser’s services or products. DeSoto Magazine is published monthly by DeSoto Media Co. Parties i n t e re s t e d i n a d v e r t i s i n g s h o u l d email paula@desotomag.com or call 901-262-9887. Visit us online at desotomagazine.com.

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living well }

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swimming safety


Jump into Safety Story and photography by Devin Greaney

When Ashley Chism was 15, she went to lifeguard training in order to volunteer at the Girls in Action camp in Eudora, Mississippi. Volunteering changed to getting hired. Now she is Aquatics Coordinator at the University of Memphis and teaches future lifeguards who have a love for the water and a desire to keep others safe. With summer in full swing, Chism shared an important safety tip for those who are heading out to the pool lake or ocean. “Never swim alone. Even if you are a good swimmer something could happen whether you are at a lake or a pool. Make sure there is someone with you. You could pass out from holding your breath,” she said. Sitting by the pool at the university, lifeguard Takindra Douglas is teaching swimming lessons as we chat. It’s a good idea to teach children for safety. Aside from giving kids a fun activity for the summer (and summers to come), a child in the U.S. is nine times more likely to die from drowning than a firearms accident.

Chism taught her daughter, Mabry, early. “She’s been in the water since she was about six weeks old.” Now at almost eight she is a strong swimmer. “We do a parent child class, mostly water acclimation class that starts at about six months old. They are floating on their backs, blowing bubbles so they don’t breathe in water, kicking their feet and getting comfortable around the water.” Diving in shallow water is another risk. “A lot of home pools you may have a diving board over eight feet of water which is much shallower than the YMCA requirement of 11 1⁄2 feet,” she said. When it comes to ponds and lakes. “If you can’t see the bottom and don’t know the bottom conditions, DeSoto 17


don’t jump in. If you’re at a lake wear a life jacket and don’t drink around water. That’s a bad combination,” Chism said. Also drunk boating is a crime like drunk driving. And yes, the authorities are on area lakes to check. Chism has seen more interest in her lifeguarding classes over the years. They range in cost from $150 to $250. “There is YMCA training and Red Cross training. Red Cross training is what I do. It’s pretty intense training. It’s about 30 hours. They have to swim 500 yards, do a timed swim, swim down to get a brick off the bottom and swim with the brick, tread water without using their hands and recognize people who are drowning, and of course, the rescues and saves” she said. One particularly intense moment sticks in her mind. “When I was about 17, I was a lifeguard. It was a weekend and we were really relaxed. Nobody was outside at the guard stand but watching from the guard shack. I was reading a book outside. A lady said ‘I think that little boy’s not moving’. He was breathing but his eyes were closed. We had to call 911. Even when you think it’s a relaxed day you never take your eyes off the water. So I tell my students when things are relaxed, never take your eyes off the water because that’s when things happen.” As for the rest of us who have not been trained as lifeguards, we are more likely to see a water emergency than trained rescuers so knowing what to do is crucial. “Find something you can use to reach out to them. And lay on your stomach when you reach out to them. If you are laying on your stomach they can’t pull you in,” Chism advises. If the heart stops beating, push hard and fast in the center of the chest about 100 beats per minute (roughly the beat of the Bee Gee’s hit “Stayin’ Alive”). And don’t worry 18 DeSoto

about getting in trouble for trying to help. Good Samaritan laws protect the layperson who is making a reasonable effort to do the right thing.” Chism does triathlons and a couple of her favorite lakes in the area are in Bridgetown, Mississippi (between Olive Branch and Hernando) and Arkabutla (southwest of Hernando) and Sardis Lake. She is planning on doing the Paris Landing Triathlon in July in Paris, Tennessee. At the beach, the water is more dynamic and Chism’s good advice of “never swim alone” is even better advice here. With rip currents, an unsuspecting swimmer could be pulled further from the beach. But a swimmer can overcome the current. Instead of swimming towards the shore, swim alongside it. It is like a stream and usually a few dozen feet later you are out of the current. Mike Crocker, owner of H20 Scuba in Memphis suggests checking with the officials at the parks or marina before swimming at the beach. Of course he says “we’re not beach people. We are ‘get on the boat and go out!’ people.” He says his business, located in Memphis and Jackson, Tennessee, trains about 120 people per year. Heber Springs, Arkansas is the closest scuba-friendly place to the Memphis area. “They just need to take a class. It’s not that complicated,” he said. It takes about two to three weeks and much of the lecture material can be done online, which will be more practical for landlocked adventurers. Enjoying the water can bring many memories--or tragedy. Playing it safe is always the best way to jump in when swimming, boating or diving.


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notables } joe birch

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CBU Gala, November 2015 (left to right) Matthew Birch & his wife, Xinlun Ma Birch, Robyn & Joe Birch, Natalie & Joseph Birch III

A Hometown Salute to

Joe Birch By Jim Shettles. Photography courtesy of Joe Birch

You might think it’d be tough for a New Jersey Yankee to come down South and root for the Ole Miss Rebels or the Memphis Tigers. But New Jersey and Memphis have a few similarities. New Jersey’s the home of “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen like Memphis was for B.B. King, “King of the Blues”. The Jersey Shore was Tony Soprano’s home just like the muddy Mississippi was for Elvis’ Memphis Mafia. But after 42 years here, Jersey native Joe Birch has become one of Memphis’ favorite sons. DeSoto 21


Birch grew up in Teaneck, NJ across the Hudson River from Harlem. Birch is a practicing Catholic who attended a boy’s seminary in Canada as a ninth grader considering the priesthood. He returned home to Catholic schools and wanted to take some time off from school or maybe join the Navy after graduation – a plan for which his parents didn’t care. His life changed with a phone call out of the blue from a Christian Brothers University recruiter. “I answered the phone eating dinner and laughed when I told my parents of the call.  We didn’t even know where Memphis was; we broke out an encyclopedia to find it.  I forgot about it until a few months later when they called back,” Birch explained. This time, his mother spoke with the recruiter, asked when school started and said, “Brother, he’ll be there.” In 1974 Birch came to Memphis, sight unseen, loved the school and Memphis as well.  He’d been interested in TV news for a while and was a fan of Geraldo, a young lawyer who became a ground-breaking investigative New York TV reporter in the early 70s.  Birch wrote for CBU’s paper and set his sights on a job in broadcast journalism. “I graduated in1978, went to WMC-TV and informed the management that I wanted to be a reporter - something they’d heard from many kids who just got out of college.  I was an intern, a gopher, mostly dragging around heavy cables for the cameramen and doing whatever I was asked to do”, he said. Birch’s former co-worker and eventual boss Mason Granger landed his first TV news job at WMC-TV as a reporter two years before Birch joined the staff.  Birch refers to Granger as his mentor but Granger said that he’s overstating that fact. “I’d been a reporter for two years; I don’t know that I taught him anything. All of us on the staff realized immediately that he was very serious about quickly learning as much as possible to become a great reporter. We all encouraged him because he was enthusiastic, energetic, intelligent and motivated. It was obvious he could be as successful as he wanted to be,” Granger explained. The average ambitious TV newsperson leads a nomadic lifestyle always hoping to get hired by a station in a bigger TV market than his prior position. Granger isn’t shocked Birch never took that path, and instead, stayed a WMC employee for almost 40 years. “It doesn’t surprise me that Joe’s stayed at Channel 5 so long – Memphis is a great city. Joe has a serious commitment to helping Memphians and WMC has a stellar national reputation as an early station in TV history. It’s good working there,” Granger said. Not a minor local tie for Birch, he married fellow CBU student Robyn 33 years ago, evenutally having two sons who still call Memphis home. Beyond the camera, Birch has also received a multitude of professional awards for his nonstop philanthropic and charitable work. He’s particularly proud of his 2014 induction into the second class of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was named “Newsmaker of the Year” by the Memphis Gridiron Show, Inc., an award he cherished because it had once been bestowed on his hero, the late 22 DeSoto

entertainer Danny Thomas, founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He spends countless hours emceeing or hosting functions for charities or various public events but is proud of one particular event. An avid runner, he’s the Co-Founder and Race Director of the Gibson 5K that benefits St. Patrick Learning Center and families in Memphis’ poorest neighborhood. He works closely with MIFA that created the Joe Birch Media Award for communicators who promote its services. As someone of Irish descent, Birch recived a community service award in 2004 from UNICO, an Italian-American service organization. His participation in races has raised more than $100,000 for St. Jude. Birch has traveled the world covering stories with local interest angle.   In 1986 he spent three weeks in China reporting on reps from Memphis in May that honored China that year.  In 1992 he was at the Vatican interviewing John Paul II. Birch said he carried an important message. “Holy Father, the people of Memphis send you their warmest greetings. In his Polish accent, he replied, ‘God-a-bless-Tennessee’.  I was impressed that he knew what state Memphis is in.” Later, he spent three weeks in Atlanta covering Memphians involved in the 1996  Centennial Olympic Games. While not a native, Joe Birch’s name and work is synonymous with everything that is Memphis. His voice, heard not only on TV, resonates in the larger community through his good works. Father’s Day, June 19, 2016


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exploring art } spirit house glass

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The Heart of Glass Spirit House Glass takes inspiration from the rhythms of life By Jim Beaugez. Photography courtesy of Spirit House Glass

Down in the basement of Fondren Corner, the hub of Jackson, Mississippi’s artsy enclave, the sounds of people moving and creating are everywhere. Music from the Fondren Guitars School of Music and rehearsal spaces fills the corridors. Chatter, footsteps and the sounds of doors opening and closing reverberate. Even the clatter of dishes from the kitchen next door add to the energy. This is where Elizabeth Robinson finds her rhythm. The founder of Spirit House Glass is marking 36 years as a glass sculptor—and her second year full time—a milestone in a career that has brought accolades and commissions from the Art Institute of Chicago, the Mississippi Museum of Art and 40 other galleries. The veteran visual artist started down her creative path while working with Midtown Jackson institution Pearl

River Glass and hot-glass artist Susan Ford. She carried those interests and experiences to Pilchuck Glass School, artist Dale Chihuly’s glass art education retreat in Stanwood, Wash., and The Studio at The Corning Museum of Glass. “Glass interested me immediately,” said Robinson. “It’s sort of musical to me. My method has layers in it so that I’m constantly building from the backbeat forward with what I see.” Robinson’s technique evolved from her original passion: music. In high school, Robinson’s band director allowed her to try different instruments and explore varied mediums to express her creativity. By the time she graduated DeSoto 25


and headed to the Mississippi University for Women on a music scholarship, she had scored for jazz band and learned a number of instruments. “As a musician, you’re sort of a numbers person,” she said. “You’ve got a sense of the way numbers fit together. Glass, being liquid, the way it flows together is really not unlike that, because as you add a layer, you know how much that is going to change the tone.” Despite her transition from music to sculpture art, Robinson still visualizes her work based on the concept of musical “tracks,” the stacking of components that together create a cohesive piece. She has developed her own methods of hot-glass kiln forming and fire polishing over time to achieve her vision. Her early work was mostly trial and error, a process of combining elements in a kiln to see what materials and designs survived. She made a series of bolo ties from beer bottles for country musicians including Roseanne Cash, and kept steadily at her craft. The first piece that brought national exposure also gave her studio its name. With the Spirit House series, a complex glass sculpture illuminated from the inside, Robinson explored how light and glass interacted based on perspective. Those works led her to dichroic glass, a composite of metalladen glass created in thin layers whose appearance can be manipulated with light. 26 DeSoto


“Watching the technique of hot glass and the layers, it made me think about my process,” said Robinson. “I started looking at how I was taking pieces and bringing them into each other and what the final result would be, and I was determined to come up with something that made everything one of a kind.” Perfecting the processes led her to create her most successful pieces to date, a series of birds that incorporate her trademark layered, translucent glass and dichroic elements. While working in her studio one day four years ago, a spare piece of glass caught her eye. She saw a birdlike shape and began to refine it, then took the resulting six pieces to a local craftsman show. They all sold within 30 minutes. But while galleries were interested in overall originality, they also demanded consistency in size and shape for the sculptures they sell. That challenged Robinson to perfect her techniques—but she still keeps them individual. These days, Robinson is working to stay paced with the business of selling online and through catalogs. Mother’s Day orders came fast, and businesses such as Seafood R’evolution in Ridgeland keep her busy with commissioned pieces. “Fondren represents all that to me,” she said. “I get to be this misfit among all the younger artists and all the things going on. It’s so much fun for me to walk down here and hear live music playing, and where people are knocking on the door because they want to learn about something.” Every bit of it plays a part—or has a track, you could say—in keeping her inspired and able to push her art forward. She’s found her place in the mix.

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exploring books} traveling with paul theroux

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Traveling the South with Paul Theroux

By Robin Gallaher Branch. Photography courtesy of Steve McCurry Studios and theguardian.com

Paul Theroux is traveling again. This veteran of back roads and engaging encounters beckons loyal readers and newcomers alike to hop in the back seat and share his adventures. This time he explores the American South. As usual, Theroux forges his own path, as he has done in nine other travel books spanning decades. “Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads�, his 10th book, reportedly took him two and a half years and 25,000 miles to complete.

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In “Deep South”, Theroux talks to people. Actually he listens more than he talks. They meet at an intersection in time, converse while sipping coffee, and in a sense mutually ask each other for directions to the next stop in life. Theroux prefers the byways, opts for interesting dirt roads and visits the dead ends where people and places in transition hole up. He travels cheap, purposely avoiding glitzy destinations and high-roller sites. Now in his mid-70s, he admits with understated humor that others probably overlook him. Anonymity enables him to engage in conversations that gradually become familiar, frank, and even friendly. Steve McCurry’s photos capture the South’s bleakness and beauty that Theroux chronicles. Sometimes decay dominates, as in the cover photo of Pastime, a boarded up movie theatre/duplex on an unnamed street; the book jacket and inside credits alike fail to give its location, perhaps indicative that it could be anywhere but only Anywhere, South. The photos and prose carry readers from South Carolina to Alabama, Mississippi to Arkansas. One photo depicts a Natchez street in early afternoon with only one person walking in the shaded boardwalk. That photo captured the vein of loneliness that runs through the book. Theroux is a fine writer. His writing is clear yet challenging, concise yet leaves a reader with lingering questions. Theroux geared his vignettes to seasons—Fall Winter, Spring, Summer—and interspersed them with three Interlude sections. The first Interlude, “The Taboo Word”, explores the n-word. In a thoughtful, well-researched essay, he cited Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Carter/Jay-Z. The rapper explained he used the word so much because it “took the power out of it.” The n-word, Theroux commented, is “loud in the black areas of the Deep South. But I winced whenever I heard it played, whenever I heard that word.” In another Interlude, Theroux examined the paradoxes of William Faulkner, Mississippi’s great writer. Theroux seemed to agree with Faulkner’s famous dictum that “to understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.” Theroux visited a Natchez gun show. He wrote of holding a weapon “made of 30 DeSoto


wood and stainless steel, a Sturm, Ruger .223-caliber Mini-14 assault rifle with a folding stock, the sort seen carried by sharpshooters and conspirators in plots to overthrow wicked dictatorships.” He chose not to buy the gun, telling the vendor he was from Massachusetts. The man’s face fell. Theroux heard him swear as he left. Reflecting on the encounter, Theroux gave this telling insight: “The gun show wasn’t about guns and gun totin’. It was about the self-esteem of men—white men mainly, the dominant ethnic group of the South….who felt defeated and still persecuted, conspired against by hostile outside forces, making a symbolic last stand.” Theroux’s Mississippi conversations continued in Greenville. A bank officer told him that in the blighted Delta area, “things are worse than they look.” Her words became the title of a vignette in which Theroux recounted his conversation with her, and her colleague Sue Evans, a woman about 60, in their office on the bank’s upper floor. A cold rain marked the dark October afternoon. The conversation ranged from the need for better housing, to people on government assistance who get their nails done, to enlisting in the military to get out of the Delta’s imploding poverty, and, when Theroux introduced it, Greenville’s musical history. The last topic animated Evans, who had been quiet up to that point. But when Theroux mentioned B. B. King and the museum in Indianola dedicated to the music great, the conversation stopped. After some awkwardness, the bank officer said, “Sue was married to him.” The conversation gradually warmed when Evans said, “I was Sue Hall then. His second and last wife. It was a while back.” Theroux noted that then for “fifteen or twenty minutes there was no blight on the Delta. It was a cheery reminiscence of her decade with B. B. King, the man who’d brought glory to the Delta and proved that it was possible and could happen again.” And then Theroux moved on, content to let people be.

“Deep South” by Paul Theroux. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 441 pages. With 16 pages of photographs by Steve McCurry. 2015. $29.95.

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into the wild } cane creek state park

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A Cane Creek Calling BY Jeanni Brosius. Photography courtesy of arkansasstateparks.com

Each state park has certain qualities, but Cane Creek State Park in Star City, Arkansas is like no other! Located south of Little Rock, the park’s trail system crosses a distinct natural divide which straddles the rolling hills of the West Gulf Coastal Plain and the Mississippi Delta. And it hosts events that involve the nearby community of Star City. It is also a favorite among mountain bikers with its Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series trail.

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This 2,083-acre park stands out among other state parks for many reasons. Seth Boone, interim park superintendent said, “There are a lot of things that make Cane Creek so different…. It has 30 campsites, so it’s smaller and more serene than most parks.” Boone also said that many campers reserve their campsites a year in advance just to participate in the park’s annual Ghost Roast at the end of October. “It’s one of our largest special events,” Boone said. “It’s a community event and every campsite is decorated for Halloween. It’s a safe place for children to trick-or-treat.” The campers decorate and the entire town of Star City is invited to come to the event. Boone said most campers come to stay the whole month of October to prepare their sites. Cane Creek State Park was given the Region Three Park of the Year Award for 2014-15. It’s one of 13 parks in the region. The park is located five miles east of Star City on Arkansas Highway 293 and is one of 52 parks operated by the State Parks Division of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

Water

In addition to camping, Cane Creek sports a 1,673acre timbered Delta lake and Bayou Bartholomew, which is the world’s longest bayou. Cane Creek is also a great fishing spot in southeast Arkansas. The shallow lake is loaded with timber, and this promotes great fishing for bass, crappie, sunfish and bream. Kayaking is a fun family sport, and guided tours are available throughout the day, as well as at night. The park’s 34 DeSoto

natural division is an obvious view from a kayak. The Gulf Coastal Plain and the Mississippi Alluvial Plain give a glimpse of two terrains and options to view a variety of wildlife.

Hiking and Biking

Beautiful and rare yellow lady slippers are just a few flowers that hikers may encounter. The lady slipper belongs to the orchid family, blooms in April and is on the Arkansas endangered species list. White-tailed deer are also common at the park. The average deer population is about 25 to 35 deer per square mile. The Delta View Trail is a 2.4-mile loop that begins at the picnic area pavilion and takes hikers through the Gulf Coast Plain forest, where they’ll see the old oak, hickory and pine trees that inhabit the forest. The main trailhead for the 15.5-mile Cane Creek Lake Trail also begins at the picnic area. This trail takes hikers on a journey through two ecological and geological regions: West Gulf Coastal Plain timberlands and Mississippi Alluvial Plain, also known as the Delta region. On this trail, hikers can view all types of wildlife, including birds, plants and animals.

Programs

There are guided walking, biking, kayaking and birding tours, as well as other programs throughout the year that are geared to all age groups. “The programs are not just for kids,” Boone said. “We tailor them to our audience.” Kids can enjoy day camps, including one for younger children who are just discovering nature.


For more information on programs, trails or to reserve a campsite, call the park at (870) 628-4714, or visit the website at ArkansasStateParks.com. For information about other Arkansas state parks on lakes or rivers, visit LakeandRiverStateParks.com. The Cane Creek Lake Trail takes an average of eight hours to complete. Plan well! · Call ahead to make sure trail is open · Let someone know you’re going on the trail and when you expect to return · Sign in and out at the trailhead · Use a map or compass · Take plenty of water and snacks · Monitor weather and dress appropriately · Cyclists should use caution and watch for areas that descend quickly and go into turns or bridges · April through September, watch for snakes and beware of ticks and chiggers. DeSoto 35


exploring cuisine } sweet magnolia gelato

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Sweet Magnolia Gelato By Andrea Brown Ross. Photography courtesy of Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co.

The dog days of summer are a little cooler thanks to the Sweet Magnolia Gelato Company in Clarksdale, Miss. While making homemade ice cream is a favorite pastime in the hot summer months, Hugh Balthrop gives compelling evidence as to the reason gelato has also become a favorite summer treat. “Gelato contains a lower fat content and has lower sugar content in most varieties than ice cream. We also use a different machine, which is from Italy, as opposed to other companies that produce ice cream. This translates into less air being pumped into our product. Our product may contain about 25 percent air in contrast to about 50 percent found in most retail ice cream brands.” The process of making gelato is also relatively simple and sweet.

“First, we make our mix of milk, sugar, eggs, cream, and flavor add ins, such as honey, chocolate, or berries. We pasteurize the mix for eight minutes. Then, we put the mixture into a freezing chamber for another eight minutes. So, we can create a fresh batch of gelato in 16 minutes,” explained Balthrop. With rotational seasonal add ins, it’s a delight for customers to try the latest flavor. “Right now, we’ve got peaches and blueberries DeSoto 37


available. You’ll see those blueberries in both our sorbets and gelato. We pride ourselves on using local growers. From our milk source, the Brown Family Dairy in Oxford, to Peggy Vaughn’s blueberries in Senatobia, and in between, we feel it’s important to support local growers and the community.” But Balthrop is far from turning his back on homemade ice cream. In fact, home is where his story began. With his wife’s demanding schedule as an ob/gyn, meal preparation often fell to him. Always in search of something fresh, fun, and nutritious, he began doing research. After learning that gelato could be considered a healthier option to ice cream, he tapped into his creative culinary side. With three children to sample his concoctions, he began experimenting with making ice cream at home and trying various flavors. Balthrop eventually went on to take an ice cream course at Penn State, and studied under a gelato master. Customer favorites include honey vanilla, dark 38 DeSoto

chocolate, French vanilla, blueberry, and Miss May’s lemon pound cake. With a lemon pound cake literally cut up and put in the gelato, what’s not to love? There’s even a banana pudding flavor. What more could a southerner ask for? Not to mention, sorbet favorites include watermelon lemonade and sweet tea. If still hesitant about trying gelato, consider more of the limitless flavors that are available. Daphene Cobb, of Lambert, Miss. has more than one favorite. “I love the Delta Butter Pecan, but I can’t wait to try their Lemon Blueberry. I’ve heard it’s fabulous!” Apparently, the Delta Gravel Road isn’t too shabby either, as it was recently recognized as a recipient of the Southern Living 2016 Food Award. The gelato recipes are as limitless as the flavors themselves. One only has to go as far as the internet to find an array of ideas. From gelato bites and baguettes to cocktails,


the options are endless. For those who can’t wait to find out what all the fuss is about with gelato, there are several locations to pick up a pint or two. From Whole Foods Market locations in Memphis, Tenn. to Kroger stores in Jackson, Miss, find specific locations on their website, www.sweetmagnoliagelato. com, or Facebook.

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exploring destinations } st. francisville louisiana

Greenwood Plantation

Springtime at Greenwood Plantation

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The haunted Myrtles Plantation

See St. Francisville By Cheré Coen. Photography courtesy of stfrancisville.net

Most of South Louisiana consists of flat prairies and soggy wetlands, but just north of Baton Rouge the terrain turns to rolling hills and peaceful woods. At its center is the quaint town of St. Francisville, once a bustling outpost for area plantations and steamboats on the nearby Mississippi River, and now a destination for tourists seeking history, great shopping and restaurants. Located off U.S. Highway 61 that leads into Mississippi, St. Francisville and environs is known for its restored plantations, exquisite homes and gardens that mostly escaped the ravages of the Civil War. There’s the Cottage Plantation, Greenwood Plantation and Catalpa Plantation by reservation. The Myrtles Plantation has been called one of the most haunted sites in America due to its paranormal activity. Afton Villa Gardens and Imahara’s Botanical Garden are open in season and two state-run sites, Rosedown Plantation and Oakley Plantation in the Audubon State Historic Site, offer periodic living history demonstrations. John James Audubon lived at Oakley for a

time and studied and painted many of his “Birds of America” here. The history alone makes St. Francisville a unique destination. Visitors may even sleep in history in the region’s many bed and breakfasts, not to mention actual plantations that offer accommodations. Add the numerous boutiques, shops and restaurants, and St. Francisville is an ideal weekend getaway or romantic escape. But St. Francisville offers so much more. A new addition to The Magnolia Café, a local landmark that’s been serving up Louisiana favorites and a few DeSoto 41


Courthouse, St Francisville, LA

mainstream items, is its 3-V Tourist Courts. Think back to when your grandparents toured the country in their Hudsons, parking their cars alongside small cottages known as motor courts. The 3-V Tourist Courts at Magnolia were built in 1938 and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but what’s new is how Magnolia has revitalized the Depression-era accommodations. Now renovated and modernized, they invite visitors to enjoy the small but well accessorized one- and twobedroom cabins with adjacent covered parking areas. Each comes with either a full or queen-sized bed dressed in fine linens, microwave, fridge and Internet service for $75 a night for a small cabin to $125 a night for the larger accommodations. Dining options include the Magnolia Café next door, which is open for lunch daily and dinner Thursday through Saturday, or Birdman Coffee and Books in front. The eclectic Birdman serves up a full breakfast weekdays with coffee until 5 p.m. and pastries and coffee on the weekend. Both Birdman Coffee and Magnolia Café offer regular live music. Arts lovers will not want to miss the Fifth Annual Songbird Music School July 7-10 at Birdman and 3-V, three days of music instruction such as a banjo workshop and songwriting lessons, voice classes and jam sessions. The fun concludes with an evening concert with Verlon Thompson, a professional songwriter and performer who has been recorded by Jimmy Buffett, Alan Jackson, Anne Murray, Trisha Yearwood and many more. For more information, visis westfelicianaarts.com/ songbird-music-school 42 DeSoto

Naturally, a historic village such as St. Francisville would be home to numerous antique stores, but there’s also interesting boutiques such as Grandma’s Buttons, where fabulous jewelry and other gifts are fashioned from antique buttons, and the new kid on the block, The Conundrum bookstore, which offers author book signings and other literary events. Owner Missy Couhig and her husband evacuated to St. Francisville after Hurricane Katrina and decided to open the bookstore on a whim, thus the name Conundrum. On Aug. 20, the town pairs up popular shops with restaurants and local artisans and musicians for its annual Polos & Pearls. Beginning at 5 p.m., visitors can leave their cars behind and jump on trolleys to visit the featured locations offering discounted specials along Commerce, Ferdinand and Royal streets of the St. Francisville Historic District. Artists and artisans will showcase and sell their wares, and musicians will perform throughout town. Even the library, historical museum and town hall will be involved, offering special exhibits. For more information, visit www.stfrancisvillefestivals.com or call the St. Francisville Main Street office at (225) 635-3873. For details about the town and West Feliciana Parish, including plantations, accommodations and events, plus walking, hiking and biking maps, visit the Tourist Information Center at 11757 Ferdinand St. or visit online at www.stfrancisville.us.


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a day away } sardis, mississippi

Sardis, Mississippi 10:00 Stroll downtown Main Street Sardis. Novelty and odds-n-ends antique shops house interesting items. Be sure to pop into Kyce’s Hardware store that’s been around since the early 1900’s. Neat as a pin, there’s nothing you can’t find here (And be sure to look up at the ceiling). 12:00 Lunch at TriBecca Allie Cafe on Main Street. Originally from New York, owners Dutch and Rebecca specialize in brick-oven pizzas. Create your own or choose one of their specialty pizzas like the award-winning Magnolia Rosa Insalata. Daily specials, sandwiches and salads are also offered. Save room for the homemade Caramel C obbler with ice cream. (Lunch Wed-Fri, Sundays) 1:00 Take a driving tour around town and view the charming historic homes and churches. The Hef lin House, built in 1858, is filled with furnishings and objects from the late 1800s. Just minutes from town, visit Davis Chapel’s cemetery and the mass grave of unknown Civil War soldiers. 3:00 Head to Sardis Lake for an afternoon of relaxing on the water. Rent a pontoon, SeaDoo or Ski Boat and tour the beautiful lake. You can also fish, camp and just kick back at the marina if that is more your style. The Southern Voodoo restaurant, located inside the Marina, is open 7 days a week from 5am - 9pm. It’s the perfect spot to pick up a delicious appetizer and cold beverage before heading back out on the water. 5:00 Double L Fish & Steak for dinner. With a casual atmosphere, reasonable prices and delicious food this is a popular spot after a day on the lake. Enjoy Pride of the Pond fried catfish from the buffet or order a juicy steak. Other menu items include po-boys, burgers and boiled or fried shrimp. 6:00 Back in town, sit on the patio at Frog’s Pearl Station and enjoy the f lower garden. With gelato, coffee, homemade desserts, and locally-made crafts, Frog’s invented the word original.

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For more information:

TriBecca Allie

sardisms.com tribeccaallie.com sardismarina.com doublelfishandsteak.com frogspearl.com

Frogs Pearl

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Sardis, MS is home to Panola Playhouse. Founded in 1962, the playhouse is one of the longest, continually-running, live theatres in the state of Mississippi. This unique, 120 seat theatre has been host to hundreds of wonderful performances over the last fifty-two years. The Panola Playhouse season generally includes five productions. The show list each season consists of a variety of productions including comedies, dramas, children’s productions, and musicals. The Panola Playhouse usually selects Broadway hits from the past as well as classics. For more information on tickets and shows visit www.panolaplayhouse.com or call 662-487-3975. Upcoming Shows: Catch Me If You Can July 8 - 24 A Time To Kill August 26 - September 4 Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical December 2 - 18

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Panola Playhouse


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greater goods } red, white and blue

red, white & blue

1.

4. 6.

2.

7.

3.

5.

1. Vineyard Vines graphic tee$42 / Hat $34, SoCo, 300 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 2. Jute cosmetics bags $7, The Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Rd. Marion, AR 3. Anigie Lace Blue Romper, $38, The Bunker Boutiue, 2631 McIngvale Suite #106, Hernando, MS 4. Women’s braclets. $12, Frank, 210 E Commerce St, Hernando, MS 5.Yellow Box flip flops, $20, Center Stage, 324 W Commerce Street, Hernando, MS. 6.Vanilla Monkey graphic tee, $25, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street Hernando, MS 7.Throw Pillows, Square Cupboard, 328 W Commerce St. Hernando, MS

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greater goods } red, white and blue

red, white & blue

1.

2.

3.

5.

4.

6.

1. Mudpie children’s apparel starting at $28, The Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Rd. Marion, AR 2.Vera Bradley Navy Tote, $68 / Cosmetic bag, $34, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 3.Tin flag door hanger, $30, Bon Von, 214 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 4.Others Follow Stars & Stripes Shirt, $45, Frank, 210 E Commerce St, Hernando, MS 5.Dan Post Cowboy Boots $279, Center Stage, 324 W Commerce Street, Hernando, MS. 6.Southern Cross hats $25, The Bunker, 2631 McIngvale Suite #106, Hernando, MS

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The Shed

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Blue and White

MISSISSIPPI’S BEST EATS By J. Eric Eckerd. Photography courtesy of southernfoodways.org, The Shed Barbeque and Blues Joint, and onlyinyourstate.com

Mississippi has long had a special relationship with food and drink. Barq’s Root Beer was invented in 1898 in Biloxi; Vardaman is known as the sweet potato capital of the world; and Belzoni produces more farm-raised catfish than anywhere else in the country. Although there’s no record that any Mississippian invented state staples like catfish creole, fried pickles or hot tamales, restaurants throughout the state have put their own creative touch on these dishes that keep people coming back for more. From the Gulf Coast to the inland north, Mississippi features some top-shelf eateries - some of which have been around for decades. And don’t let some of the outsides fool you. Once you step inside and get a whiff and a taste, you’ll see why Mississippi is a true food destination. DeSoto 51


Here are 10 must-visit places that are sure to satisfy your taste buds!

Doe’s Eat Place - Greenville Doe’s officially opened in 1941 in Greenville, but its roots date back to the early 1900s when Dominick “Doe” Signa’s father opened a grocery store in the building that now houses the restaurant. But it was 1941 when Mamie, Doe’s wife, started making tamales and selling them that Doe’s Eat Place really began its storied history. Today, Doe’s sons run the restaurant, and the inelegant atmosphere is pretty much the same as it was seven decades ago - although the outside looks a little more dilapidated. Hot tamales still top Doe’s menu. And they’re still made with Mamie’s 75-year-old recipe. Doe’s cuts much of its meat in the store, including a two-pound Porterhouse and a sirloin. Or you can try the fried or boiled shrimp. But don’t forget to take a dozen tamales to go.

Old Hickory Steakhouse - Columbus If you come into Old Hickory looking for anything besides red meat, you’ll be out of luck. Opened in 1968, this steakhouse serves just that - steak. But it does offer a variety of cuts: sirloin, rib-eye, N.Y. strip or a T-bone. Served with a baked potato, salad and garlic toast, the steaks are slow cooked on a charcoal grill near the entrance. The rustic barn-like exterior matches a no-frills inside and simple menu. But no worries - the steaks truly are the stars at Old Hickory. Make sure you check the schedule though. It’s only open for dinner, and it’s closed on Sunday and Monday. 

The Shed Barbecue & Blues Joint - Ocean Springs From its humble beginnings in 2001 through a 2012 fire that destroyed much of the building, the Shed always has relied on it Shedheds - its regular customer base - to survive and thrive. The Shed actually is a string of sheds. But once you pull into the gravel parking lot and smell the “que,” you know you’re in for a treat. The meats are slow smoked daily in seasoned wood-burning pits, and the sauce is a homemade family recipe. The Shed Sampler Platter is the way to go, with portions of baby back ribs, spare ribs, pork, brisket, chicken and sausage, served with three sides and two BBQ breads. Throw in live music on the weekends, and the Shed is more than a restaurant. It’s a true barbecue and blues joint.

Connie’s Fried Chicken - Tupelo Since 1979, Tupelo has been home to Connie’s, where the building screams fast food, but the dishes taste homemade. Known for its chicken biscuits smothered in gravy for breakfast, Connie’s also serves lunch and dinner. But it’s the morning biscuit and gravy dish that packs people in the place. If you do go after breakfast, try the fried chicken plate with homemade onion rings. But do not leave without at least one of the melt-in-your mouth blueberry donuts. Or take a dozen home with you.

Blue and White Cafe - Tunica The Blue and White has been around since 1924 and in its present spot for nearly 80 years. Originally part of a full-service gas station and bus stop, the Blue and White has maintained its down home decor and traditional Southern cooking - but with some modern offerings, as well. Pot roast and hamburger steak sit alongside tuna tacos on the menu. Of course, you should try the Southern fried chicken or the Mississippi pond raised catfish. For breakfast, there’s country fried steak and eggs and country ham and redeye gravy, a treat for any true Southerner.

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Doe’s Eat Place

Old Hickory Steakhouse

Connies Fried Chicken

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Taylor Grocery - Oxford Housed in what was an 1880s-era general store - and it looks like it complete with an old-timey gas pump outside - Taylor’s became known as “that catfish place” in 1977. You can get other dishes, red beans and rice, steak, pork chops or oysters. But you have to try the catfish at Taylor’s - whole, filleted, blackened or grilled. Some even say it’s the “best catfish in Mississippi.” With a reputation like that, diners are encouraged to have a drink, sit a spell on the the front porch or even tailgate while they listen to live music and wait for a table. No reservations taken, and it could be awhile.

Velvet Cream “The Dip” - Hernando Velvet Cream, also known as The Dip, opened in 1947 as a hamburger stand that served vanilla ice cream and bottled root beer and cokes. Over the years, their menu has expanded, but their bread and butter remains hamburgers and ice cream. But today’s customers get a little more variety and sophistication. With burgers like the Russian, with Swiss cheese melted over fried pickles, the Alabama burger (mozzarella melted over fried green tomatoes) and even the peanut butter burger, the Dip delivers. Soft serve ice cream still draws the crowds, but Velvet Cream also offers 30 hand-dipped flavors of ice cream and numerous specialty sundaes. But in recent years, the Dip has become known for its concretes, a blended ice cream treat you eat with a spoon.

Borroum’s Drug Store - Corinth In 1865, the Civil War ended, and former Union POW Dr. Jack Borroum was on his way home to Oxford when he stopped off in Corinth. He decided to stay and open a medical practice with another doctor and later a pharmacy. After 151 years, the sixth generation of Borroums still operate the drug store, which includes a soda fountain that was added in the late 1930s. It’s the oldest continuously run drug store in the state, and it features a museum filled with Civil War era artifacts and apothecary bottles. Slugburgers (pork, soy extender, meal and fat), which got their start in Corinth, cornbread salad, homemade pimento cheese sandwiches and old-time sodas highlight Borroum’s menu. But you can’t leave without a handmade milkshake made with real ice cream. You even get the leftover shake in the tin shaker.

Crystal Grill - Greenwood The Crystal Grill has been open in Greenwood for more than 80 years, serving Southern staples such as hot tamales, pickles, okra and catfish - all fried, of course. The breaded cutlets and hamburger steak are customer favorites, but the Crystal Grill’s menu is much more extensive, with a variety of steaks, seafood, chicken and pasta dishes available. The signature item on the Crystal Grill’s menu is its mile high pie - chocolate, coconut or lemon icebox with real meringue piled extravagantly and deliciously high.

Weidmann’s - Meridian Weidmann’s opened in 1870 in Meridian, starting out in the Union Hotel with a counter and four stools. It moved to its present location in 1923, evolving over the years into a modern day restaurant that serves Southern cuisine, mixing some of the diner’s original recipes with new classics. Weidmann’s is steeped in local history, and it exudes Southern charm when you walk in the door. Both the lunch and dinner menus are wide-ranging, including fried green tomatoes and redfish, both with 1870 sauce. At the bottom of the menu, you’ll find “Weidmann’s World Famous Black Bottom Pie.” It features a ginger snap crust, with a chocolate filling and a bourbon and whipped cream topping.

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Velvet Cream

Crystal Grill

Weidmann’s

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Gulf Coast captains Jay Trochesset and Kenny Barhanovich

Celebrating Biloxi’s Captains By Cheré Coen. Photography courtesy of James Edward Bates for South Mississippi Living, Jay Trochesset and snapper-rigs.com

The International Game Fish Association every year nominates 200 people worldwide for the Tommy Gifford Award, or the Legendary Captains and Crew Award. Only six captains win annually, and it’s highly unlikely they hail from the same town. This year, Mississippi Gulf Coast captains Jay Trochesset and Kenny Barhanovich nabbed the award, credited with serving more than a century of combined charter boat fishing experience between them. Bobby Carter, who helps put on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic Tournament, nominated Trouchesset and Barhanovich because there had never been captains from the northern Gulf of Mexico in the IGFA’s Hall of Fame. Putting together the nomination, he also realized how extensive the captains’ careers had been. “I didn’t know how much they have to go through,” Carter said. “Hurricanes, oil spills — they were there or part of

it. They are both so qualified.” Both Trochesset and Barhanovich have spent their lives on Gulf waters, both learning the trade from their fathers at an early age. Trochesset started in 1960 when he was 12 years old, serving as a deckhand on his father’s boat in the summers. “I worked with my father (the late Captain J.P.) in junior high, high school, even some college,” Trochesset said. Trochesset traded the University of Southern Mississippi with the call of the Gulf, received his license, took out a loan for a boat that his dad co-signed and he was in business by 1974. At one point, he and his father designed and built without blueprints the Silver Dollar I, a 50-foot fiberglass DeSoto 57


sport fisher. Trochesset’s second boat, the Silver Dollar II, was a custom-built 50-foot catamaran. Today, he operates the Silver Dollar III, an updated 52-foot catamaran. “It’s been an exciting journey,” Trochesset said of working for himself. “But every day is a challenge.” At 15, Barhanovich became first mate on the President Kennedy, one of many coast trawlers in the late 1950s and the first boat that Barhanovich’s father, the late Yankee Barhanovich, would acquire. The two built the business, changed the boat’s name to the Miss Hospitality to better appeal to visitors and “Fish-N-Fun” on the Miss Hospitality would be their signature catch phrase for the next 40-plus years. Barhanovich also worked for Ingalls Shipbuilding to support his wife and three daughters, but his true passion of chartering brought him back. 58 DeSoto

“The whole time I was working the shipyards I was doing charters on the weekend,” Barhanovich explained. He and his father would later upgrade to a 51-foot custom sportfisher and in 1973, he became a full-time charter boat captain. Both men have taken celebrities out on Gulf waters, with quite a few colorful stories to share. Tanya Tucker and the band ZZ Top were ones Trochesset recalled, adding the latter band members with their signature beards were “wild.” Barhanovich’s father saw the likes of Hank Williams and Jane Mansfield. “You meet some of the greatest people in the world,” Barhanovich said. Both men have happy stories of life on the sea but sad ones as well. They both experienced hurricanes, recessions and the 2010 BP oil spill.


“I lost everything but my boat in Katrina,” said Barhanovich, who lives near St. Michael’s Church in Biloxi. “Me and the church and the rectory — that was the only thing standing for blocks. It was tough to start over. I’m 70 years old and I hope I never have to go through another one.” “We have a good year if we don’t have to go up the river for a hurricane scare,” Trochesset said, adding that boats gather in a place called “Hurricane Hole” by Interstate 10. For Katrina, about 200 boats tied together to ride out the storm. “When they say hurricane, you leave,” Barhanovich explained. Trochesset signed a contract on a DeSoto 59


Captain Kenny Barhanovich

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new boat right before Hurricane Katrina. Since he had already put down a $50,000 deposit, he pushed ahead, but with the disaster and loss of income, the rebound was rough. “It’s been a tough road but it could have been worse,” he added. “We’re survivors.” Just as the Mississippi Gulf Coast was coming back from the storm, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 people and creating the country’s worst oil spill. About 4.9 million barrels of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, much of which washed ashore in Louisiana and Mississippi. “The oil spill did damage to the fisheries and we still don’t know (the extent),” Trochesset explained. “It was a tough few years.” T h e c r i t e r i a f o r t h e I G FA nomination is that the captain or crew member must have provided leadership in their trade and have earned the respect of their peers, thus making a meaningful contribution to the sport of recreational angling over an extended period of time. Nominees are received from around the world and include both freshwater and saltwater. Trochesset said captains on the Mississippi Gulf Coast have a harder time than most because they lack the oil rigs that are offshore of Louisiana’s coast and the artificial reefs of Gulf Shores and the Florida Panhandle, underwater attractions for fish. “It makes us tougher fishermen than those left and right of us,” he said. Which made the award that much more special. “It’s pretty humbling, coming from Biloxi, Mississippi,” Trochesset said, adding that people have asked him for his autograph. “It’s the highlight of my life.” “This is the only other time that two people have been from the same town” Barhanovich said, adding that Allen and Buddy Merritt were the other inductees. “It was really special to come from the same city.” Only one percent of all nominated are chosen, Carter explained. “It was a huge honor for them,” he said. “I feel very honored to have been part of the process to get these two inducted.”

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GulfQuest

Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo

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Fire Museum of Memphis, Photo by Roger Cotton

Are we there yet ? The South’s Best Family-Fun Museums and Parks By Robin Gallaher Branch. Photgraphy courtesy of Gulfquest, Roger Cotton, Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo, and visitinfinity.com

Hernando de Soto, the Spanish explorer and conquistador who sailed the mid-South’s waterways, traversed its tree-lined interior, and pondered many a sunset over the Gulf of Mexico in the 1500s, left a pattern of adventure that has lasted for centuries. Modern day travelers, however, can follow his legacy in much easier ways. In contrast to his on-land excursions and explorations, day trips from today’s Memphis-Hernando hub are family oriented, affordable, educational, and fun outings. Consider these five museums and parks within easy driving distance. DeSoto 63


Discovery Park of America

Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo (Tupelo, MS) Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo combines bison—those hefty, fearsome standards of the American plains—with zebras—those horse-like roamers of the Southern African veld, a wide open rural landscape. Located on 210 acres and boasting more than 260 animals, Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo originally was a cattle ranch. However starting in 1997, owner Dan Franklin began bringing in buffalo. His buffalo herd grew to 300 head and at one time was the largest east of the Mississippi. His efforts gradually led to the facility’s opening in 2001. The zoo contains exotic animals; the most famous probably was Tall Boy, a giraffe measuring over 19 feet that passed away in 2015. Another attraction is Oliver, a Capuchin monkey known to wander. He escaped twice in 2007, and both events were well reported in newspapers worldwide. Oliver may not know it, but his escapades made David Letterman’s Top 10 List and The Colbert Report. Evidently now as the father of six baby Capuchins, Oliver leads a more settled life.   Be prepared to learn interesting facts about the animals you’ll see. For example, if you think you’re thirsty in this summer’s heat, consider a camel; it can drink 40 gallons of water at one time! 64 DeSoto

GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico (Mobile, AL) With the beckoning cry of Adventures Aweigh!, GulfQuest Museum invites families aboard for an interactive adventure and education getaway that promises to keep dinner table conversations at a high level for weeks. Known as the world’s only maritime museum dedicated to the historical, cultural, and economic significance of the Gulf of Mexico, GulfQuest is located on the Mobile River in downtown Mobile. Among its all-things-maritime topics are shipwrecks, trade routes, early settlements, Gulf marine life, hurricanes, offshore oil/gas platforms, navigation, and ship building.   A major part of GulfQuest is the SS McLean. Housing the museum’s exhibits, this full-sized container ship honors the concept of “containerization,” an idea pioneered in the 1950s by Malcom McLean, owner of Waterman Steamship Corporation in Mobile. America’s Sea, an interactive exhibit, allows visitors to explore topics relevant to the Gulf of Mexico like Exploration, Combat, Commerce, and Environment via touch screens. A special GulfQuest feature is its overnight camp-


ins. Billed as a particular interest for scout troops and school and church groups, an overnight camp-in includes a treasure hunt. “Boarding passes” are $35 for campers and $20 for chaperones.

Discovery Park of America (Union City, TN)

The centerpiece of Discovery Park is Discovery Center, a breathtaking 100,000-square-foot building showcasing ten exhibit galleries Children’s Exploration, Energy, Enlightenment, Military, Native Americans, Natural History, Regional History, Science/Space/Technology, and Transportation. Among the park’s jaw– dropping features are its 20,000-gallon aquarium which shows the underwater life of Reelfoot Lake and a 60-foot replica of a human body with a 30-foot slide. The museum offers f o s s i l s , dinosaurs, Native American artifacts, military equipment, vintage automobiles DeSoto 65


INFINITY Science Center

and promises “dozens more hands-on experiences for children.” It provides special rates for licensed facilities and organizations providing care for developmentallychallenged adults.

Fire Museum of Memphis (Memphis, TN)

Loaded with memorabilia that not only recount the history of firefighting but also tangentially the history of the City of Memphis, the Fire Museum of Memphis is a must see. Once a firehouse, it’s now highly interactive and fun. Kids can climb aboard a fire truck and pretend to drive while they don fire gear and helmets. Inside a smoke room, kids can actually experience a simulated house fire. Lear n the histor y of the Hale Water Tower. T h e equipm en t, originally  horsedrawn and used to reach high rises, was purchased by the City of Memphis in 1897 and actively used in fighting fires until its retirement in 1978.   Enjoy the fascinating display of fire helmets that chronicle style changes in America and Europe. See the gas 66 DeSoto

masks used for protection in World War I. Children will especially love the reproductions of antique fire truck toys made of cast iron. The renowned Fire Chief ’s desk tells the story of firefighting in the mid-1800s. Occasionally, dalmatians will make an appearance which is another reason it’s a popular birthday spot.

INFINITY Science Center (Pearlington, MS) Promising to be the place where “fun meets fascinating,” the INFINITY Science Center is a non-profit science museum that doubles as NASA’s official visitor center for the Stennis Space Center. In addition, it is a major research center. Outside exhibits include a colossal F-1 rocket engine, a tsunami buoy, and a U.S. Navy riverine training boat. Inside exhibits fascinate as well. Stop and study these: A moon rock, a linear aerospike engine, an Apollo space suit. Many other artifacts and displays are on loan from NASA, the Smithsonian, the U.S. Navy and NOAA. Because it promotes learning, INFINITY


has fun and fascinating facts all over its website. Here’s one: “On average, at any given time, an American Alligator has between 74 and 80 teeth. As teeth break or wear out, alligators grow replacements from teeth stem cells. Alligators can replace each tooth up to 50 times during their 35- to 75year lives.” No doubt Hernando de Soto could add his own stories about alligators.

Check the sites for individual times and prices Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo

info@tupelobuffalopark.com 2272 Coley Road Tupelo, MS (662) 844-8709 Admission: $11. Seniors:  $9.  Drive thru:  $10 per car.  

GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico

www.gulfquest.org 155 S Water St, Mobile, AL (251) 436-8901 Admission: Adult: $18. Youth: 16. Child: $14. Active Military and College Students (with IDs) and Seniors: $16

Discovery Park of America

www.discoveryparkofamerica.com 830 Everett Boulevard, Union City, TN (731) 885-5455 Tickets: Adult: $13.95. Child:  $10.95.  Senior: $11.95.

Fire Museum of Memphis

www.firemuseum.com 118 Adams Ave, Memphis, TN (901) 320-5650 Admission: Adults: $10. Children: $8. Seniors and Military (with ID): $8.  

INFINITY Science Center

www.visitinfinity.com Discovery Cir, Pearlington, MS (228) 533-9025 Admission: Adults $12.  Children $6.  Senior and Military:  $10.

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homegrown } lit coolers

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T he New Cool By James Richardson. Photography courtesy of Lit Coolers

Anyone looking for a job?

“I have never seen anything grow like this company has. We employ about ten people and we are looking to employ about 25 in the next six months,” Matt Brown, the founder of Lit Coolers explained. Brown came up with the idea of a lighted cooler in 2001. “My wife and I came up with the idea. We just came back from a church function and she asked for a Diet Coke. I went out to the truck. It was late that afternoon and I couldn’t see. I dug and dug and dug. I couldn’t find the Diet Coke. I was picking up everything but the Diet Coke. Then I went back into the house and got a flashlight and came back outside. When I opened up the cooler, I thought, ‘Why is there not a light on this cooler?’ That’s how it started.” The corporate office for Lit Coolers is in Michigan City, Mississippi. “This is where it started. Right here on 72 highway, just 10 miles west of Walnut, between Walnut and Collierville.” Their main warehouse is located in Homewood, Alabama, just outside of Birmingham. The coolers are manufactured in China and Thailand, but “with some U.S. contracts we just landed, they would like to buy American-made stuff. So, we are looking for a U.S. manufacturer in the next two years. We are making a little over 4,000 coolers a month right now and we can’t keep up with production.” Their coolers range in size from a 22-quart (TS-300) at $299, a 32-quart (TS-400) at $349, and a 52-quart (TS-600), which sells for $399. “Our best selling coolers are our TS-300 and the TS-400. Of course, we have them in all different colors, but the new colors this year were the pink and the red. We can’t keep those in stock.” Colors aren’t the only design feature that sets Lit apart. “We have the only cooler, from a 50 quart down (that would be our TS-400 and TS-600) that you can stand a twoliter Coke in the cooler and still shut the lid. You can’t do that with any other cooler. And with our TS-300, our smaller cooler, if you put a bottle of wine in that cooler, you can still shut the lid. There is nothing more aggravating than opening up your cooler and your drink has emptied into the bottom of the cooler.” Brown is a Mississippi boy. He was born and raised in Greenville. “I moved up here to the northern part of the state. I call it the Hill Country. I graduated from the University of Mississippi in ‘99. I’m a big tailgater and we go to every game.” That may have had an influence on his patent for the custom logo that is available on all his coolers. As far as logos

go, “Other coolers have to have something stuck on the outside. In ours, we have an interchangeable logo that goes into the lid of the cooler. If you wanted to put a logo for DeSoto Magazine in the cooler, you would insert the logo into the lid of the cooler and it lights up when you open the cooler. We are licensed to do 40 to 50 college logos.” Lit Coolers actually has three patents. A second, besides the custom logo, is the light for the cooler. “I came up with the idea for our integrated light system. ‘Build the cooler around the light.’ That’s how the wiring came about. It’s internal and doesn’t take up any space in the cooler. So, if you throw a Coke or something back in the cooler, there’s nothing that can break. And if it happens to go out, the replacement is just $30. And it doesn’t hurt the integrity of the product.” Replacement lights are available on their website for $29. “It recharges in your home or your car. You never have to replace the batteries. It’s rechargeable.” The third patent is for their ice legs. “We are all about saving space in the cooler. In other coolers you have to buy ice or some sort of refrigerant. That takes up space. We took our patented ice legs and integrated them into the four walls of our cooler at the corners. They don’t take up any cooler space.” What gave Brown and Lit Coolers a big break occurred in 2014. He filed for a patent on his cooler light in 2013 and it was issued January of this year. In July 2014, he entered the Lit Cooler into the Orlando I-Cast, which is a national production that showcases anything that has anything to do with the sport fishing industry. “We went up against 700plus products and we won. We beat out every cooler company out there. That catapulted us into the national limelight. We started making coolers and didn’t really get them into stores until May of 2015. From that time until this past May, we are in 1,100 retail stores across the country.” And all of that was word-of-mouth with zero advertising dollars, according to Brown. “We have new products coming out this July. We are actually going to have the 4th of July cooler. It will have the American flag in it that lights up. That’s pretty cool.” And that is exactly what it is.   

litcoolers.com

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southern harmony } the oak ridge boys

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By Debra Pamplin. Photography courtesy of amarillo.com and soundobservations.blogs

The Oak Ridge Boys have been synonymous with country music for decades now. The group had strong roots in gospel for many years, before Duane, Joe, Richard and William Lee successfully crossed over to country, forever changing the sound, look and feel of the country music genre. In addition to their own albums released lately, the Oaks can be found on a track of Blake Shelton’s newest album, “Doing it to Country Music”, which features the tight harmonies of the Oak Ridge Boys. The four current members of the group have been together since 1973, and over the years have taken home awards for titles such as Top Vocal Group, Country Group of the Year and Album of the Year. When asked about the longevity of the Oaks, and predictions at the start of their partnership, bass singer Richard Sterban shares his thoughts. “I started out in this business singing bass in a band called J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. We were on the biggest tour of the year singing backup for Elvis at that time. I remember getting the call from William Lee Golden, a great friend of mine then, and obviously still to this day, saying that the bass singer in The Oak Ridge Boys had decided to take some time off and they’d love to have me join them. A lot of people questioned me when I left the band, but I truly believed in The Oak Ridge Boys, and I knew they were going places.” Still, Sterban could have never anticipated the success — from winning GRAMMYs to selling out tours and garnering multi-platinum albums — to achieving their greatest honor, becoming members of The Country Music Hall of Fame in August 2015.  “I would have never thought while I was singing on that stage with Elvis, that one day I would become a member of the same hall of fame that he is in; to me, that is still so surreal,” said Sterban. “Though we’re getting older, The Oak Ridge Boys have no plans to slow down anytime soon! We love

what we do and we plan to continue doing it for many years to come.” Joe Bonsall, the tenor of the group echoed the sentiment. “In a lifetime and in a career of incredible things, this is the most incredible thing that’s ever happened to the Oak Ridge Boys. We run our group as a family, trying to be honest, like our parents taught us. Treat people right. I really think that’s why we’re here today,” he added. A few weeks before the induction in August of 2015, when asked if the ‘high’ had worn off yet from receiving such a high honor, Bonsall said the experience is still emotional for him. “Well, to me it is quite frankly the greatest honor that we have ever received. Very humbling to say the least.” It has been nearly 35 years since “Elvira” became a chart-topping hit, and the Oaks recently teamed up with the a cappella group, Home Free, with a new rendition of the hit. Lead singer Duane Allen discussed how it was to see the song in a new light, and how it was to work with Home Free. “I saw Home Free on TV and sent them an e-mail congratulating them on their great harmony singing. Before the day was over, I received an email from each member of the group. We became friends quickly. They told me they were going to record a Country album and asked if it would be okay for them to record “Elvira.” Both groups met in the Oaks hometown, Hendersonville, Tennessee, at a studio that was formally owned by The Oak Ridge Boys — now Ricky Skaggs’ studio. “We recorded the vocal tracks there, and then we went back and recorded the video there. Home Free reminds me so DeSoto 71


much of young Oak Ridge Boys, when everything we were releasing was going to the top of the charts. They are young, have a wealth of talent, and are beaming with energy. I loved working with them. In fact, I’m ready to go on a world tour with them,” said Allen. Speaking of tours, the Oaks can still be found out on the road every year. For the second year, the group will be part of a Country Music Cruise that takes place January 27 to February 3, 2017. The cruise will visit locations such as Cozumel, Key West and Costa Maya and will depart from Tampa, Florida. Vince Gill, Lee Greenwood and Charley Pride are a few other country music artists who will be in attendance. The cruise provides nightly concerts and plenty of meet-and-greet opportunities. Some of the Oak Ridge Boys members have branched out into works of art as well. William Lee is a painter and photographer, with an emphasis on landscapes. “Since childhood I have always loved the stunning beauty of nature - landscapes, seascapes, sky, sunsets, and being outdoors. Touring and singing with The Oak Ridge Boys 175 days a year for 50 years, we see a wide range of beautiful scenery -- from mountains, plains, rivers, lakes, beaches, sunsets -- and each landscape is different. I have also had the 72 DeSoto

opportunity to visit some of the world’s greatest art museums.  I started painting landscapes in 2002 using my photographs for reference in the studio of my hotel rooms while on tour,” he said. Being a very slow painter it takes him months to finish some paintings.  In 2008, he got his first digital camera and became more serious about fine art photography. “With more than 50,000 photo images on my computer I started sharing some with friends and followers on social media and am amazed at the wonderful response for my photos. It was gratifying to be invited to have a showing of my art and photography at the Pensacola Museum of Art for 28 of my original paintings, as well as the the new Pensacola Airport where my photography have been showcased as part of the Viva Florida 500-year celebration of discovery.” Joe Bonsall authored a book or two, most recently an inside look at the Oaks’ 40 years. “I am not sure how easy it was to write although my head is chock full of all kinds on history and stories and such, but I will say it was a labor of love. Much like honoring my parents with GI Joe and Lillie I have been honored to write about my singing partners and our amazing career,” Bonsall said.


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table talk} seafood r’evolution

Lobster Gnocchi

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John Folse and Rick Tramonto

A Dining Revolution By Clint Kimberling. Photography courtesy of Seafood R’evolution

Chef John Folse is widely considered to be an authority on Louisiana dining, having written several books and even authored an encyclopedia on the subject of Cajun and Creole cuisine. A veteran of the restaurant industry, Folse opened his very first restaurant in 1978. Recently he’s partnered with fellow veteran chef Rick Tramonto on a classic, but innovative, seafood restaurant called Seafood R’evolution located in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Tramonto and Folse share in the executive chef duties at Seafood R’evolution in Ridgeland where their combined knowledge and unique vision creates a fabulous dining experience. Seafood R’evolution, located in The Renaissance, just a few miles north of Jackson is an expansive restaurant with over 300 seats and several different dining rooms and features that include a bar and top-notch wine list, raw bar, and an open,

exposition-style kitchen that you can see from almost anywhere in the restaurant. While this is his first restaurant in Mississippi, Folse actually has a long history with the Magnolia State. “I spent a lot of time in the Delta working with the catfish industry to develop new recipes to sort of bring the catfish out of the frying pan and into the sauté pan. Doing that, I developed a lot of great relationships. So when the opportunity to have a restaurant in Mississippi arose, it was like I already had a kinship here to begin with,” he said. DeSoto 75


Raw bar

And he believes Mississippi and Louisiana mirror each other as far as food. “I always felt like there was a natural relationship between Louisiana and Mississippi – a strong network and family-type relationship between the two areas. Mississippi is as close to Louisiana as you can get, at least culinary wise. It’s not much of a stretch to bring a restaurant that had the same foods and flavors. Folse and Tramonto worked hard to create a menu with dishes that are not only recognizable and authentic to Mississippi diners, but presented with a flourish. Seafood is obviously the house specialty and R’evolution serves only gulf species of both shellfish and finfish. It’s always fresh, never frozen and they make an effort to never bring in fish from another market. One of the more unique options is the “fish on the plate” program. This allows guests to not only select any fish from the daily menu board, but to choose the cooking process from either wood fire grilled or roasted, blackened, a la plancha, sautéed, steamed or even fried. From there, a guest can select a sauce such as amandine, lemon beurre blanc, or truffle lobster cream as well as topping from choices that include crawfish étouffée, crabmeat or even fried oysters to create a custom dish. “We don’t limit you to just three specials. We say here are the ingredients and you can mix it up any way you want,” said Folse. The raw bar, located in the front of restaurant is 13-feet long and quite an impressive sight for a restaurant that is almost 200 miles from the coast. The raw bar features different varieties of oysters on the half shell (which are also available charbroiled or Rockefeller style) frutti de mare towers, tuna carpaccio and black truffle beef tartare. Seafood R’evolution cultivates a unique atmosphere where fine and casual dining mix seamlessly. While fresh fish is the most popular menu item, there are also po’ boys and hamburgers as well simple plated dishes and pastas (including fisherman’s pasta—a spaghettini dish with oysters, shrimp and redfish. If you prefer turf over surf, they also have prime steaks and chops. And don’t skip the “death by gumbo,” which features a whole, semi-boneless quail stuffed with oysters, andouille sausage and rice. Wine, cocktails, and a wide variety of craft beer are available from Bar R’evolution. Seafood R’evoluton boasts an impressive wine cellar with an inventory of over 4,000 wines, so it won’t be hard to find a bottle that fits your budget, palate, and pairs well with Mississippi seafood. The bar also serves handcrafted, seasonal cocktails emphasizing fresh ingredient. In line with restaurant’s overall theme of 76 DeSoto


fresh flavors, the bar focuses on producing all of its own juices, syrups, infusions, tonics, shrubs, tinctures, and bitters. And on Sundays the restaurant features a Mississippi Blues brunch. This is an important distinction from the New Orleans jazz brunch. It’s a little more laid back and kid friendly. Standout dishes include a pulled pork hash with roasted potatoes and a fried egg while the gulf crab omelette is not to be missed. Folse strives to make sure his customers are happy and content when they’re in his restaurant. “I want people to feel comfortable about the menu,” he explained. “It’s important to us that whatever a guest wants, they can get. Substitutions and special requests are no problem.” Folse reminds that the word restaurant is derived from the word restore or restorative. It’s a place where people come to feel restored. “I get so infuriated at chefs and restaurateurs who decide on behalf of a customer what they’re going to do. A customer shouldn’t have a challenge getting what they want. I’m here for one reason only, and that’s to serve our guests.”

Seafood R’evolution is open daily for lunch and dinner, including brunch on Sunday. Call 601.853.3474 or visit www.seafoodrevolution.com for reservations. DeSoto 77


in good spirits} piùa colada

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The Clear Colada at Caribe Hilton


Summer’s Favorite,

Piña Colada By Charlene Oldham. Photography courtesy of Hilton Worldwide

Mixed drink meets milk shake in the piña colada, the official drink of Puerto Rico and unofficial drink of celebratory summer pool parties everywhere. The classic cocktail traces its roots to the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, according to the hotel chain. “We are proud to be the place where the piña colada was born, and since its creation in 1954, we have been delighting guests with Caribe Hilton’s most famous cocktail,” said Rafael Lebron, senior food and beverage manager at the Caribe Hilton. “The original piña colada forms part of our history on the island and is one of our most requested cocktails.” The classic piña colada was originally created at the Caribe Hilton by Ramón “Monchito” Marrero, a bartender at the resort, according to a Hilton press release. Marrero experimented for three months before settling on a cocktail concoction he felt captured the flavor of the island in a glass. He continued to serve the drink at Caribe Hilton until his retirement in 1989, 11 years after it was named Puerto Rico’s national drink. Over the decades, many different versions of the mixed drink have been developed to please the present-day palate and take advantage of increasingly sophisticated ingredients. Today, the Caribe Hilton’s Caribar cocktail menu features four piña coladas. “Through the years our team of mixologists have created variations to the original recipe, and the newer versions in this evolution of the piña colada have become quite popular,” Lebron said. “Of all our options, a guest favorite is the Clear Colada, a contemporary, clean and complex coconut oil-infused version of the original, made with white rum, clarified pineapple juice, house-made pineapple syrup and coconut water, served with a coconut ice pop.”

Garnished with dehydrated lime and dehydrated pineapple, the Clear Colada is probably too complicated for most pool party hosts who want to enjoy a dip and drink themselves. So, here’s the Caribe Hilton’s original recipe, which features ingredients you can find in most grocery stores. Look for canned coconut cream in the international food aisle or where you find cocktail mixers.

Ingredients: 2 oz. white rum 1 oz. coconut cream 1 oz. heavy cream 6 oz. fresh pineapple juice ½ cup crushed ice

Directions: Add the rum, coconut cream, heavy cream and pineapple juice together in a blender. Add the ice and blend for about 15 seconds or until smooth. Serve in a 12 ounce glass. Garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.

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exploring events } july Independence Day Celebrations: Hernando, MS - July 1 Horn Lake, MS - July 3 Southaven, MS - July 4 Memphis, TN - July 4 Germantown, TN - July 4 Collierville, TN - July 4 Olive Branch, MS - July 4 Oxford, MS - July 4 Tupelo, MS - July 4 When Modern Was Contemporary: Selections from the Roy R. Neuberger Collection Through October 30 Mississippi Museum of Art Jackson, MS For more information visit www.msmuseumart.org or call 601-960-1515. Ezuru: A Theatrical Sensation June 24 - July 17 Millennium Theatre Gold Strike Casino Tunica Resorts, MS Visit an enchanting new world with EZURU, featuring an international ensemble with breathtaking acrobatics, plus aerial and comedy acts that will thrill audiences of all ages. For tickets call 888-747-7711 or visit ticketmaster.com. Levitt AMP Concert Series Riverview Stage at Park Along the River New Albany, MS Cedric Burnside Project - July 2 Drivin’ N Cryin’ - July 9 Scott Mulvahill - July 16 Papa Mali - July 23 Young Valley - July 30 Bring your lawn chairs! Bring your coolers, but remember no public consumption of alcohol. Food and drink will be available on site. All showtimes at 8:30pm Visit www.visitnewalbany.com/summerofmusic for more information. 29th Annual Slugburger Festival July 7 - 9 Historic Downtown Corinth, MS For more information visit www.mainstreetcorinth.com or call 662-287-1550.

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“Weird Al” Yankovic: The Mandatory World Tour July 10 BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove Southaven, MS 7:30pm Purchase tickets at BankPlus Amphitheater box office 662-892-2660, www.ticketmaster.com or call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000. For additional information, visit www.bankplusamphitheater.com. Miranda Lambert: Keeper of the Flame Tour July 14 BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove Southaven, MS 7:00pm Purchase tickets at BankPlus Amphitheater box office 662-892-2660, www.ticketmaster.com or call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000. For additional information, visit www.bankplusamphitheater.com. Brian Wilson - Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary Tour July 22 Horseshoe Casino Tunica Resorts, MS For more information visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 800-303-7463. Kudzu Playhouse presents “Fiddler on the Roof” July 22 - 31 Hernando Performing Arts Hernando, MS Single show tickets are $12 adult, $7 Seniors . For more information, call 888-429-7871 or visit www.kudzuplayers.com. Live at the Garden - Billy Currington July 29 Memphis Botanic Gardens Memphis, TN Gates open at 6:30pm. Show starts at 8:30pm. For more information visit liveatthegarden.com or call 901-636-4107. Natchez Food & Wine Festival July 29- 31 Natchez, MS Experience one magnificent event after another with culinary enthusiasts from all over the region. You will find yourself constantly surrounded with some of the region’s most prominent chefs and restaurants, and indulged in the finest of food, wine, and entertainment. Make reservations right away to attend this unforgettable three-day event. Fore more information call 601-660-7300 or visit www.natchezfoodandwinefest.com.


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reflections} “pull me!”

“pull me!”

By Karen Ott Mayer

At the peak of Kentucky’s summer heat, we kids usually took refuge in the basement until a familiar refrain jarred us from our cool respite. “You kids go outside and find something to do!” yelled Mom. Unlike today’s helicopter parents whose hovering seems to be common, our parents not only wanted us out of the house, but usually for long periods of time and at long distances. And generally unsupervised. Grumbling, we acquiesed to avoid further reprimand which was inevitable. In jumbled unpainted garages filled with bikes, every kid had a wagon. Ours was the classic red metal wagon with long black handle. It could comfortably fit two small girls and an odd assortment of blankets, dolls or dogs. I don’t remember a time that a wagon wasn’t always to be found or a squirmish ensued about who would ride and who would pull. Bartering and bribery ranked high in our promises. “If you pull me first, then I’ll pull you later.” Besides siblings, our neighborhood buddy Scotty Maxwell could always be found nearby. He remained a close part of our pack until he tried to kiss me one day in the basement and it suddenly dawned on me that he was boy. But until that moment in time, we willingly allowed him into our circle-especially if he was willing to pull us around the neighborhood. Getting ready for a wagon ride felt like preparation for a long road trip. My sister and I would make sure we had a blanket to sit on, our sweaters, dolls, and snacks. One afternoon, however, our wagon ride took a rather embarrassing turn. We left our driveway, crossing the street over to 82 DeSoto

Scotty’s driveway. Bear, his big furry dog presumably a husky, always wandered about the yard. Having only a small beagle, we wondered how anyone could live with such an enormous creature. On this afternoon, Jen and I sat in the wagon while Scotty and my brother debated some long forgotten topic that most likely centered on wagon-pulling duties. As we waited for them, I lost track of Bear. It was a chilly day and I distinctly recall wearing a sky blue sweater--that would never be the same again. As I sat, a strange feeling came over me as some new sensation moved over my back. Suddenly, it dawned on me. I was getting wet. I don’t recall if it was the shrieks of laughter from my brother and Scotty or my own slow realization, but full understanding didn’t occur until I looked over my shoulder and saw Bear. With his leg fully hiked assuming we were a nearby bush, he relieved himself. In the minuscule span of time for my brain to engage, Bear turned the wagon into his personal bathroom. Screams, tears and laughter filled the neighborhood as we girls fled home despite pleas from the boys to return and promises to clean the wagon. Every July 4th watching kid’s parades with wagons, I can’t help but remember that fateful day with Bear; but more so, remembering all the good memories something as simple as a wagon can bring. Every kid still needs a wagon and every parent needs to hear, “Pull me!” from the driveway voices.


DeSoto Magazine July 2016  

A cool issue dedicated to hot entertainment and a celebration of Summer.

DeSoto Magazine July 2016  

A cool issue dedicated to hot entertainment and a celebration of Summer.