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June CONTENTS 2019 • VOLUME 16 • NO. 7


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Introducing DeSoto’s 2019 “I Do” Couples

Mom, What Will You Wear? Mother-of-the-Bride Dresses

What’s New In Wedding Venues

departments 16 Living Well Men’s Health Month

40 On the Road Again Jackson’s Fondren District

18 Notables Laura Jackson

42 Greater Goods 72 Homegrown Bourbon Pens

22 Exploring Art Lamp Shade House

74 Southern Gentleman A Toast to Remember

26 Exploring Books Bluff

76 Southern Harmony June Caldwell

28 Southern Roots Hernando Farmers Market

78 In Good Spirits Sweet Lil’ Nellie

32 Table Talk Rafters on the Water 36 Exploring Destinations Champagne, France


80 Exploring Events 82 Reflections The Wedding Quilt



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editor’s note | JUNE

Wedded Bliss

Will your wedding be casual, maybe with a country flair? Or will it be an elegant candlelight affair? The venue will certainly determine the kind of ambiance your wedding will project. Writer Karon Warren takes a look at several Mid-South wedding venues that can create a magical atmosphere for the big day. Two friends recently saw their children walk down the aisle, and both of these women are independent and talented professionals used to making hard decisions. But the angst of choosing a dress for their daughters’ weddings kept them in a quandary for weeks. I don’t have children so I couldn’t relate to what they were feeling, but I listened and tried to offer encouraging words to each of them. So, when writer Deborah Burst pitched a story about her quest for the perfect mother-of-the-bride dress, the editorial team realized this must be a real concern among today’s women. Moms will be delighted with the advice Deborah shares in her story, “Oh, Mom, what will you wear?” We love featuring our area’s beautiful brides and handsome grooms in our annual “I Do” section. Thank you to all who answered our call to share your wedding photos this year. On a different note, congratulations to our regular contributor Verna Gates who was recently named Alabama Media Professionals’ 2019 Communicator

JUNE 2019 • Vol. 16 No.6


of Achievement. The organization is a state affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women, and Verna will now compete for the national title of 2019 NFPW Communicator of Achievement. Several of her stories for DeSoto Magazine have won NFPW awards and will be recognized at the national awards ceremony later this month. In the meantime, please read Verna’s latest story in this issue about Bourbon Pens, a perfect wedding or graduation gift. Although this issue is dedicated to love and wedded bliss, we think you’ll find lots of other stories of interest regardless of your marital status. Happy reading!

Mary Ann on the cover

Catrina Lee and Ryne Wammack enjoyed a rustic-themed wedding at Mallard’s Croft in Byhalia, Mississippi, last year. Photography by Adele, a Kentucky-based firm, captured the perfect moment.

CONTRIBUTORS Robin Gallaher Branch Deborah Burst Cheré Coen Jackie Sheckler Finch Verna Gates Jason Frye Debi Lander Karen Ott Mayer James Richardson Andrea Brown Ross Dayle Shockley Karon Warren Pam Windsor PUBLISHED BY DeSoto Media 2375 Memphis St. Ste 208 Hernando, MS 38632 662.429.4617 ADVERTISING INFO: Paula Mitchell 901-262-9887 SUBSCRIBE: ©2019 DeSoto Media Co. DeSoto Magazine must give permission for any material contained herein t o b e re p ro d u c e d i n a n y m a n n e r. 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 interested in advertising should email or call 901-262-9887. Visit us online at

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living well | MEN’S HEALTH MONTH

Staying Healthy for the Big Day Story and photography by James Richardson

Fathers-of-the-bride and grooms-to-be should take time to get needed check-ups long before the wedding day arrives. June is a popular month for weddings, but it’s also an important time for awareness campaigns – most notably Men’s Health Month and Men’s Health Week (June 10-16). While all men need to be aware of potential health problems, the stress and anxiety of planning a life-changing event like a wedding can exacerbate an issue if it has gone unnoticed and unchecked. Raising awareness about men’s health has taken a somber note this year with the recent deaths of actor Luke Perry and director John Singleton from strokes in their early 50s. Alex Trebek’s announcement about his pancreatic cancer diagnosis has also underscored the importance of getting regular checkups. Early detection of diseases and dealing with preventable health problems can often lead to more successful treatments. Several medical professionals in the Memphis area recently noted common medical concerns for men and what they can do to stay in good shape. Dr. Robert Wake, a urologist 18 DeSoto

at Regional One Health in Memphis, says prostate cancer is probably the most concerning for most middle-aged men. “All men with a family history of prostate cancer and African American men should start PSA (prostate specific antigen) screening at age 40. White males with no family history should start at age 50,” he recommends. He stresses the importance of annual prostate cancer screenings. STROKES AMONG YOUNGER MEN A stroke affects the arteries in the brain, and occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked by a blood clot or a rupture. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability. The ASA also says 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Dr. David Iansmith, a cardiologist and pharmacologist

Dr. David Iansmith, Cardiologist, Pharmacologist, Electrophysiologist

Brian Richardson, Sports Physical Therapist

with the Cardiology Group of Memphis, says, “For older people because their vessels are already altered and because they have significant risk factors, they have obviously a higher index of stroke than young people. Their risk factors can be similar, especially if young people have diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia, which is the triad we call Syndrome X.” Syndrome X is a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Hyperlipidemia means the blood has too many lipids (or fats), such as cholesterol and triglycerides, and this condition increases fatty deposits in arteries and the risk of blockages. “And young people with Syndrome X don’t do well,” adds Dr. Iansmith. “And they, over time, develop all the atherosclerotic changes that older people have: heart attacks, strokes, kidney problems, loss of limbs. But in the elderly individual with what we call stove-pipe vessels that are hardened and brittle, their vessels don’t give very much with more volume. They have more problems. The difference obviously is the hits taken by the body over a prolonged period of time, which takes a toll.” He explains that younger people can withstand a problem over a longer period of time. “But people who have strokes while young don’t do as well as people that have strokes who are older,” he says. “It really helps them recover having a firmer brain than someone who is young and active and without any such restrictions. You’d think that would be a benefit, but it’s not.”

one thing that holds true for young boys and mature adult men is that they believe they are ‘bullet proof,’ until they discover that they are not!” Men often tell themselves it’s the ‘other’ guys who get colon cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, but not them. This belief can lead to dire consequences. “Believing they are not vulnerable to catastrophic events leads to terrible injuries, especially in their younger years, and life altering diseases in their older years,” says Tipton. Staying physically fit begins with a healthy lifestyle and exercise. Brian Richardson, a board-certified sports physical therapist at the Vanderbilt Orthopedic Institute in Nashville, shared the guidelines recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) for adults. Those recommendations include the following: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, which can be met with 30-to-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days per week or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise three days per week. Moderate-intensity exercises include walking, cycling, or resistance training. Examples of vigorous-intensity exercise include jogging, rowing, or circuit training with resistance. Those individuals who do not enjoy going to the gym should try counting steps using a pedometer. “The goal should be to get in 10,000 steps per day, and a pedometer is an easy way to track this,” says Richardson. “If they haven’t exercised in a while, I recommend getting clearance from their physician. This all helps them to be fit for that big day!”

STAYING FIT TO PREVENT INJURIES Injuries can “trip up” that trip down the aisle also. Jack W. Tipton, a CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist) and APRN (advanced practice registered nurse) states, “The

A former medical professional, James Richardson is now a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Oakland, Tennessee.

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notables | LAURA JACKSON

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The Flour Garden By Pam Windsor | Photography courtesy of Laura Jackson

From cakes shaped like churches to cakes resembling slabs of bacon, the creations from Laura Jackson’s Flour Garden are artistic masterpieces. Wedding cakes are meant to be special, but Laura Jackson takes them to an entirely new level when it comes to creativity. She wants every bride to have the perfect cake for that special day and goes out of her way to make it happen. “People will come in with ideas or they’ll say they don’t know what to do and I’ll start asking questions,” she says. “Then I’ll come up with something and we go from there and it turns into what it turns into. It’s just so much fun.” Every cake is an artistic masterpiece. She made one to look just like a church in Napa Valley for a couple who’d gotten married there, but held their reception in Memphis where her shop is located. “The groom agreed to get married in Napa Valley, but only if the bride agreed to have a reception back here in Memphis and he got to pick the cake.” He wanted the cake to look just like the church. “So, he gave me a picture and I looked it up and did some research on it,” Jackson explains. “I even called the church, then went from there. I built it up so I could create the tiniest details. We ended up making it bigger than they originally expected, but when you’re wanting details like a window in a building, the building has to be pretty big.” She recently made a cake for a bride getting married at Annesdale Mansion in Memphis. The bride wanted some antique looking flowers to tie in with the atmosphere of the historic home. “She wanted a textured cake but wanted to keep the aesthetic of it still being white and wedding-y, so she sent me a couple of pictures she liked, and I came up with an idea,” says Jackson. Jackson also gets creative with some of her grooms’ cakes. She had one groom who was a doctor with a fascination for monkeys. She ended up doing a chimpanzee with a lab coat and medical bag. Then, there was a groom who liked bacon, so she made a cake that looked like a slab of bacon. “We did a maple cake with cream cheese and fried bacon. I fried bacon, crumbled it up, put it all in there and it tasted like pancakes and bacon,” she says with a laugh. It’s difficult to believe she never had any formal training and just stumbled into cake decorating by accident. “I was working as a dental hygienist, and my husband

and I had our young daughter and I wanted to give her a really cute cake for her birthday,” she remembers. “She wanted a Scooby Doo and I didn’t figure I could really afford one, so I thought I’d just try my hand at making it myself. It worked out ok.” So, she did a Batman cake for her nephew and that turned out ok, too. So, she soon began doing a little cake decorating on the side, but never imagined she’d one day be making wedding cakes. “If you had asked me 15 years ago if I would ever be going into business for myself, I would have said, ‘Are you crazy?’ Because I swore I would never do a wedding cake. That’s a bride’s most important day, and I just could not be held responsible for ruining it. That’s too much pressure.” But then a friend begged her to make a wedding cake and that turned out ok, too. Jackson continued making cakes on a part-time basis. Then, she got a call from the Memphis Zoo asking if she might consider becoming a vendor to make cakes for some of the many weddings held on the property. She said no because she was still working as a dental hygienist, but the conversation got her thinking about opening her own business. She soon opened The Flour Garden. That was nine years ago. She has part-time help on occasion, but mainly works with her husband, Glen. “The first time I went to him it was because I couldn’t figure out how to get something to stand up. When it’s anything three-dimensional, he’ll do my internal supports and get everything to stand up and do like it’s supposed to do.” While every cake looks exceptional on the outside, the inside has to be just as spectacular. “I had a bride come in and she loved, loved, loved red wine. So, we did a dark chocolate cake with red wine and I looked up to see what goes well with dark chocolate and red wine and ended up doing a blackberry filling.” One of the newer trends she’s seen when it comes to wedding cakes is more texture. “It first started with textured butter cream and now people are moving into textures with fondant. And I know a lot of people don’t like fondant, but they love the way that cakes look.” DeSoto 21

She says the key is working with higher quality fondant. Her best advice for a soon-to-be bride trying to decide where to go for a wedding cake is to get recommendations and visit more than one person. Find someone excited about making that special cake for that special day. For Jackson, there’s nothing she’d rather do. “I love the challenge and I love seeing people’s faces and making them happy. I do this because I truly love it.”

Pam Windsor is a Nashville-based journalist who writes about music, travel, food, culture, and extraordinary people.

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exploring art | LAMP SHADE HOUSE

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Lighting Up Treasured Heirlooms By Robin Gallaher Branch | Photography courtesy of Lamp Shade House

One person’s trash is another’s boutique lamp. Before tossing out your grandmother’s old ringer phone or your middle school saxophone, make a trip to the Lamp Shade House in Memphis to see what their future can hold. It’s the ultimate repurposing shop. Discarded items often become useful wedding or housewarming gifts, business memorabilia, or even family treasures “People come to us with ideas and we make them happen,” says Harold Cooperman, an employee at the Lamp Shade House in Memphis and son-in-law of founder/owner, Marvin Struminger. “We’ve made a habit of turning mementoes into even longer memories,” Cooperman says with a smile. Struminger and crew say that, as far as they know, theirs is the only business in the country taking old what-nots and re-purposing them as lamps. Proud of its Better Business Bureau A+ rating, the family-run business is a 51-year-old Memphis fixture.

Struminger, 87, tells a story about himself that combines creativity, expertise, whimsy, and the fun of repurposing. “I had nothing to do one day so I took Matchbox® trucks and cars and made them into a lamp,” he says. The arrangement elicits chuckles from customers: a monster truck appears to be fighting smaller trucks. Perfect for a boy’s room, the $125 lamp is very popular. A black shade complements the decorative piece. The office phrase, “turning anything into a lamp,” means constructing some sort of base for the heirloom treasure, putting in the wiring, and choosing a shade. Angela Medek, the shop’s artist, makes the finials that top the lamps. Turnaround time is about a week, says Susan Struminger, Marvin’s s daughter-in-law. DeSoto 25

The family has done so many unusual lamps that a coffee-table book with color photographs about them is displayed at the checkout counter. Customers smile as they turn pages and laugh at the crazy ideas of others, such as an ox-blood red and black radiator lamp. Probably more suited to a yard sale or junk yard than to an elegant living room, the unusual lamp certainly is a conversation piece. The classic beauty of any black Singer sewing machine also can be enjoyed as a lamp. The shade and base pull the colors of the machine’s painted filigree. Books stacked in any order or arranged diagonally and vertically make great lamps. Yes, that saxophone can be a standing lamp. A guitar works well horizontally, diagonally, or vertically. A musical lamp surely sets guests talking and starts stories rolling. When asked about his favorite lamps, Stuminger quickly replies brass andirons – the metal supports for firewood used on a hearth – that are heavy, decorative, and usually come in pairs. Andirons can hide the requisite wiring and can be picked up and easily moved around. Struminger comes from a sales background. He worked for Goldsmith’s, a well-known bygone Memphis department store. Then he went into business for himself in giftware and lamps. Conversations at the Lamp Shade House inevitably return to memorable lamps. A tall, bronze giraffe makes an unusual lighting fixture. Its head, serving as the finial, pokes from the shade’s top. The effect reminds one of National Geographic photos of a giraffe at an African game park munching tender, treetop leaves. Lamps make ideal individualized gifts. For example, a set of paint brushes of assorted heights and specialties became a lamp for an artist. The brushes were arranged on a base in a small container, stems down and clean bristles ready. The finial also was a paint brush, soft bristles up and seemingly displayed to invite a gentle touch. A model train, plus track and car did not go to the toy graveyard. Honored now as a lamp, it will serve with pride for decades in its new assignment on its “engineer’s” desk. Another sweet lamp is a lightly used, obviously loved, little red truck. No doubt it gave many happy hours to some little “driver” who can still cherish it in another setting. Peter Woods of Peter’s Pottery in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, began taking his wares to the Lamp Shade House 19 years ago. Often a lamp is a pottery vase. It can be 34” high —a measurement which includes base, vase, shade, and finial. As Cooperman filled a blue pottery vase with sand for stability, he pointed to the faux wood base cap and finial on another vase/lamp in progress nearby. Created by Medek, the colors and swirls matched the vase perfectly. The Lamp Shade House does a “magnificent job,” Woods says. “I’m very pleased with their work and our relationship.” He estimates that he sends over about 400 pieces a year. Figurines invariably make conversation pieces. Flower Child and Hippie, two period pieces depicting the 1960’s, are named examples. Originally bourbon bottles from the Maloney Distillery in Anchorage, Kentucky, they now grace the checkout counter at the Lamp Shade House. Customers seeing them smile as they wait the packaging of their purchases, perhaps remembering carefree times of their own youth. As Susan explains, “We get to be creative. We get to talk to people all day long.” Robin Gallaher Branch, a Fulbright scholar, teaches adjunct classes in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Christian Brothers University in Memphis and writes for many news sources.

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exploring books | BLUFF

A Magical Twist By Jackie Sheckler Finch | Photography courtesy of Michael Kardos

Mississippi State creative writing professor Michael Kardos pens his own award-winning novel. When he was in high school, Michael Kardos performed magic on the New Jersey boardwalk for a couple of summers. He also was a member of the Society of American Magicians. “It was a great summer gig,” he says. “I don’t perform any longer, but my interest has kept up.” In fact, Kardos is now sharing that magical interest with readers in his fascinating new novel, appropriately titled Bluff. “Writing Bluff gave me an excuse to take a deep dive back into that world.” From the first words in the novel, readers are drawn into a mystery that combines poker, a brilliant con game, and a has-been magician: 28 DeSoto

“It started with that most basic of requests: Pick a card,” starts the book. From there, Kardos weaves a tantalizing tale of a $1.5 million magic trick that, if done successfully, no one will ever suspect happened. But, of course, the trick doesn’t go off as planned. And it is Kardos’ skill as a writer that leaves unsuspecting readers amazed at the book’s tricky finale. Growing up on the Jersey Shore, Kardos never expected to become a Pushcart Prize-winning author, but the early hints were there. “My mother was a high-school English teacher and we always had books around the house,” he says. “My older sister was always the reader in the family. I mean, I read, but

I wasn’t the reader. I wrote an occasional short story, but never considered it to be something that I could do for real. I didn’t know any other writers.” The first story Kardos remembers writing was when he was 12 years old. “It was about a drug dealer who cooks a live lobster to celebrate a big sale, only the lobster jumps out of the pot and attacks the drug dealer. Riveting stuff!” After high school, Kardos headed to Princeton University to earn a degree in music and played drums professionally for several years. “I still play the drums, though not too often these days,” he says, adding that once in a blue moon he and some musician friends will band together to play cover tunes at a local bar. In his late 20s, however, Kardos says it was fiction-writing that became his passion. “It was something I felt I could do on my own — without a band, without a soundman, without a stage, without an audience, without lots of gear. I liked that all I needed was a computer or a notebook. I liked, too, that with writing, unlike rock music, you weren’t considered ‘old’ at some ridiculously young age.” After Princeton, Kardos attended Ohio State University to study creative writing. “I really didn’t know anything about the creative writing world at all, but a friend of a friend recommended a few schools to apply to for my Masters of Fine Arts, and OSU accepted me with funding, which sort of made the decision for me,” he says. “It happened to be one of the best ‘non-decisions’ I ever made.” Kardos also has a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri and now lives in Starkville, Mississippi, where he co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University. His wife, poet Catherine Pierce, is also co-director and the couple have two young sons. Although he hasn’t lived on the Jersey Shore for almost two decades, Kardos has used his hometown as the basis for all three of his novels – Bluff, The Three-Day Affair and Before He Finds Her. “There’s something about a hometown that stays in your bones: the topography, the way people talk, the way houses look, the food,” he says. “Writing a novel is all about conveying authenticity, and for me it’s been helpful to set the books in the place that formed me.” What motivates him to write, Kardos says, is the pure enjoyment of creating with words. “I really enjoy it. Also, I’m super grouchy if I haven’t written in a while, and I’d rather be pleasant than grouchy. My wife prefers that, too.” Writing a book takes him about three years, “though the central idea was usually germinated in my head for several years prior to the actual writing.” And doing the necessary research to write a book like Bluff is a pleasure rather than a chore, Kardos adds. “I did lots of research, except that word ‘research’ doesn’t convey how much fun and lively it was. Talking shop with magicians, interviewing poker players, reading as much as I could, and practicing the moves myself, deck of cards in hand.” Next up, Kardos says, is a novel about the world’s largest museum theft and a children’s book about a terrible soccer team. “Speaking of research: I was recently a terrible soccer coach for our older son. They really needed coaches, and so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll be an assistant coach.’ And the next thing I knew I was made a head coach with no assistant. “I should mention I have absolutely no soccer abilities,” Kardos concludes. “We lost a lot of games by a lot of goals. I told myself I’d better at least get a story out of it.”

An award-winning journalist, Jackie Sheckler Finch loves to take to the road to see what lies beyond the next bend.

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Let It Go, Let It Grow By Karen Ott Mayer | Photography courtesy of Hernado Farmers market

The first market manager for the Hernando Farmers Market remembers the enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit that was the catalyst to create one of Mississippi’s best Saturday markets. More than 10 years ago, community leaders Shelly Johnstone and Mickey Davis sat down and talked economic development ideas and “cool factors” that could help make Hernando, Mississippi, a destination of choice. “I remember Mickey asking me what I thought about a farmers market and I thought it was a great idea,” says Johnstone, the former community development director for the City of Hernando who is now an independent consultant. Under the leadership of then Mayor Chip Johnson, the trio set off a spark known as the Hernando Farmers Market, one of the largest and most popular in Mississippi. Founded in 2008, the market happens every Saturday morning on the historic square from April through September. It is widely recognized as an integral part of local Hernando life and invites

everyone from ukulele players to bicyclists to stop by. As the first market manager, I remember the sheer enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit that filled those early days. With few regulatory barriers, open-minded leaders and pioneering vendors who weathered those initial slow Saturdays, the market grew. Last year, more than 180,000 visitors came to the market, generating more than $100,000 in sales. More than 50 vendors traveled on average 27 miles to sell their wares. Originally working with DeSoto County as a partner, the Hernando Farmers Market evolved through several chapters and now resides under the City of Hernando. “In the beginning, the county partnership was indispensable to the success. County Administrator Michael DeSoto 31

Garriga got it and was a huge help,” shares Johnstone. Creative thinking was a necessity. “The biggest challenge initially was finding vendors. I had no idea how to locate them. Joy Anderson was a big help because she knew farmers.” Joy Fox Anderson, Extension Agent IV, is the DeSoto County Director and remains active with the market. “Our first three vendors were canners; the fresh fruit and vegetables came later,” adds Johnstone. Over the years, we all have answered many questions about the market and one question always prevails: How did we create the Hernando market? Perhaps an equally important question is how has Hernando held strong? “By staying true to its mission of providing fresh, accessible agricultural products and going above and beyond other market requirements,” says Gia Matheny, Hernando’s current director of community development. Following in Johnstone’s footsteps, Matheny has succeeded in leading the market to new heights. In late 2018, the Hernando Farmers market received a $197,677 USDA FMPP grant to help further build capacity. With an onsite program, shoppers can buy tokens if they run out of cash. Low income shoppers benefit too. They have an opportunity to access fresh foods with their EBT/SNAP card. Children’s free activities, Senior Days, stor ytelling with the Mississippi Humanities Council, cooking demonstrations, yoga, fitness classes, Baby Day, and live music are just a few of the free happenings during the market season. “I love the variety of products, the social aspect and the open-air environment of the market. Locals come for the fresh local food. Shoppers start to build a relationship with vendors and it becomes a weekly treat to have a conversation with the person who grew the food,” says Matheny. Johnstone agrees. “I loved and love the market because it is a community event. It is not just a place where people buy and sell food. That community coming together is a thing of beauty.” But what drives the market in the end? The vendors themselves. Farmers like Billy Ray Brown who milks cows at the crack of dawn and bakers like Florence Keel have been part of the market since day one. It’s 32 DeSoto

those people with their hands in the dirt and sweat on their brow make the market happen every Saturday.

How to Grow a Market Think organically This doesn’t mean organic as in food. View a market as a community event and a general asset. Focus on your town’s assets. Do you have a lot of bakers? Or musicians? Maybe a food market isn’t in the cards; but maybe a Saturday morning fresh bread markets works. Here’s a fact: In order to sell tomatoes, a community or region must have enough people growing tomatoes to bring to market. Location, location, location Think about the location as a place you find enjoyable. A stark concrete parking lot on the edge of town has never been anyone’s idea of a place to hang out. Money isn’t the answer Someone once asked us how much money it took to start the market. Money? Who had money? We just called up Anderson who found some fun, willing farmers who agreed to meet on the square. Another hint: A market takes way more work than dollars. Avoid the “grant” trap, thinking that will start a market. Grants are incredibly necessary and useful — once you have history and clear goals about its use. It’s about pickles, not power Over-organization, over-regulation and over-abundant egos can kill any initiative. Hernando’s leadership knew from the start exactly the direction and tone they wanted to establish. Everyone involved understood the initiatives and personally had an incentive to watch the market succeed. Have fun! When the work is done (which it never is finished!), sit back with a good cup of coffee and visit with a new friend or neighbor.

Karen Ott Mayer served as the first market manager for the Hernando Farmers Market. She now is a freelance writer from Como, Mississippi.

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Rafters 2019 Hours:

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Escape to the Lake By Andrea Brown Ross | Photography courtesy of Rafters on the Water

Just a regular evening feels like a mini-vacation at Rafters on the Water, where you can escape from all your worries with great food, live music and gorgeous views of Sardis Lake. When restaurant owner Hudson Chadwick was approached by the marina master at Sardis Lake about submitting a proposal for a new restaurant, he took the bait, so to speak. With a request to breathe new life into the marina, provide live music, and contribute to an overall fun marina experience, a unique plan was created. “We developed Rafters on the Water as an offshoot to our restaurant, Rafters Music and Food, located on the Square in Oxford (Mississippi),” explains Chadwick. “Escape – that’s our philosophy.” In fact, his plan worked so well their expectations were exceeded in their first year of operation. “We geared up as we went along and accommodated the demands, which surpassed our expectations of our first year’s opening,” says Chadwick. Mississippi farm-raised catfish and burgers are menu favorites. The casual fare also includes salads, po’ boy sandwiches, homemade chips, and fried okra. Appetizers include the popular zydeco shrimp and fried alligator. They use locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. “We offer a kids’ menu which features smaller portions

of the same great food that the adults get,” says Chadwick. Teresa Wallace of Como, Mississippi agrees. “My young granddaughters loved their food! We had a great time there,” she shares. While they do not offer food specials, they do offer happy hour specials and specialty drinks, such as Rafters Punch, a customer favorite. Drink specials are often listed on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Located about an hour’s drive south of Memphis, Tennessee, and 30 minutes from Oxford, Mississippi, the nearly 32,000-surface-acre lake is a popular spot for fishing and camping and is known for its crappie and bass fishing. Water skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding are also popular activities. “We definitely want our customers to feel like it’s a vacation. No, we don’t have white, sandy beaches, but we’ve tried to recreate that beachy island feel,” shares Chadwick. Reservations are not accepted, so Chadwick encourages patrons to enjoy a cocktail on their lower patio and listen to the live music if they must wait for a table. As a weather-dependent locale, Rafters on the Water offers an outdoor dining experience with covered patio. With DeSoto 35

a dock and boat ramp nearby, Chadwick estimates that 50 percent of their clientele comes from boaters. “I think our customers love docking their boat, coming up to eat, listening to music, and enjoying our casual atmosphere. Our other customers just like getting out of the city for a little while,” he says. For those who want that experience on the water but lack a boat, the marina offers pontoon rentals. And the live music is available every night. “We have a variety of primarily local artists,” Chadwick explains. Bobby Billingsley, a member of the local band Greazy Creek, shares why his group loves to play there. “Hudson [Chadwick] is an accomplished musician himself. They have a great little stage and sound system. You know the music is important to him,” explains Billingsley. “The staff is made up of super, nice folks. It’s such a laid back, relaxed atmosphere. Where else can you enjoy sitting at one of the prettiest lakes in Mississippi, listening to live music, and enjoy great food?” Billingsley shares. “T he burger s are fantastic! They’re not your run-of-the-mill burger,” recommends Billingsley. But one of the most memorable acts, Dikki Du and the Zydeco Krewe, hails from Louisiana. “We had a fabulous Fourth of July celebration last year! We had live music all day, fireworks that night, and kids dancing to the Cajun music. It was fun for the entire family!” Chadwick shares. Booking the restaurant for private events is possible, but is limited to Mondays and Tuesdays during their open season. They are open are on major holidays. And Uber and major Oxford taxis offer pick ups from their location. “ T h e r e ’s n o t h i n g l i k e o u r restaurant in the state of Mississippi,” says Chadwick. “Overlooking the water, boats going by, the food and music, it makes you feel like you’re on vacation even if you’re only a few minutes from work and home.” Andrea Brown Ross is assistant editor of DeSoto Magazine. She resides in Como, Mississippi.

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exploring destinations | THE FRENCH CHAMPAGNE REGION

Pouring for a tasting

Rear of Chateau du Rilly

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The vineyards

Champagne for the Honeymoon Story and photography by Debi Lander

The French Champagne region is a romantic destination for honeymoons and anniversaries. Bubbles are for celebrating, and what better place to pop a cork than the rolling hills of France’s Champagne region. Even if it’s not a honeymoon or an anniversary, just being there is cause for rejoicing. Reims and Epernay, two cities known as historic Champagne capitals, lie only 45 minutes from Paris via the TGV high-speed train. All lovers, especially those fond of the bubbly, will revel in a two or three-night getaway there. Tours at the House of Taittinger in Reims begin with a short film. A guide then leads groups down into the cellars. The underground world alerts your senses: eyes adjust to dim light and noses pick up gentle wafts. Surroundings feel cool and damp, chalky smells predominate. The Romans excavated cavern-like rooms and tunnels for their chalky materials. Champagne makers prefer the

chambers left behind for very different reasons – the constancy of the underground temperature (about 53 degrees Fahrenheit year-round), the humidity, (a constant 88 percent), and the absence of light and vibration. However, during WWI the labyrinth of caves served a different purpose. Reims suffered heavy bombardment. Nearly all residents not fighting in the war moved into the caves for safety. Guides point out some poignant drawings and chiseled names still marking the walls. Champagne house tours conclude with the reward of a delightful tasting (or two), typically near a gift shop offering bottles and logo-emblazoned items. While in Reims, don’t miss the cellars of Veuve Clicquot, one of the most famous Champagnes marketed today. Their unmistakable yellow label appears in James Bond DeSoto 39

novels and grace television’s “Downton Abbey.” Visitors learn the story of the “Veuve (Widow) Clicquot” who took over after her husband’s unexpected death at age 27. She is credited for discovering “riddling,” a method of rotating bottles to reduce the buildup of bubbles and disgorgement to dislodge the yeast sediment. Her innovations made Madame Cliquot one of the “grand dames” of Champagne. Naturally, tastings include the scrumptious Brut Yellow cuvée. If you are driving, be careful to allow time to absorb the alcohol. Be equally warned, however, about the resulting time this will leave for spending money in the gift shop. Mumm, also a well-known label, offers another Reims destination. Maison Mumm includes a small museum displaying vintage tools for cultivating grapes and producing wine. The tasting room highlights a photo-worthy tower of Champagne goblets. Reims isn’t just about the grape, though. Don’t leave the city without stopping at the UNESCO World Heritage cathedral with its magnificent Rose Window. Spend your second day on Epernay’s Avenue du Champagne, the street Winston Churchill named “the world’s most drinkable address.” Beneath the pavement are a mind-boggling 70 miles of subterranean cellars and more than 200 million bottles of Champagne. Pause at the statue of Dom Perignon outside the house of Moet & Chandon to thank the monk famous for creating the tingly treat. Dom, a near-blind Benedictine monk, serving as the abbey’s cellar master, considered the wine too pale, compared to neighboring Burgundy’s deep red wine, a favorite of the king. But, cold winter temperatures in his region precluded production of a “proper” red. Changing temperatures produced bubbles, frustrating Perignon and his abbey brothers. They removed the grape skins and tried blending several varietals, in the process thus creating the first white wine. Unfortunately, this new elegant wine persisted in fermenting after bottling. Even more irritating, the bubbles also caused the bottles to explode. Perignon tried changing the bottle shapes and using heavier glass. The stronger bottle eliminated the explosions, but the 40 DeSoto

Dom Perignon statue

effervescence persisted in blowing out the stoppers. Perignon turned to Spain for cork and eventual success. Pop across the street to the Perrier-Joulet showroom to view gorgeous hand-painted bottles. Sadly, they – along with many other top-rated vineyards like Bollinger, Crystal, Roederer, and Laurent Perrier – are not open to the public for more extensive touring. After all that bubbly, you will want to sample delicious French cuisine. The Champagne region has many delightful dining options to fit all budgets, and most wineries offer maps of nearby restaurants. Taxis are plentiful, but having a rental car expands your opportunities to stop and photograph picturesque vineyards. Hotel suggestions include the swoon-worthy Château de Rilly, near Reims. The boutique hotel’s dining room serves an unforgettable wine-paired meal. The formal gardens are best enjoyed, of course, with a glass of Champagne.

Debi Lander is a freelance writer from the Sarasota/ Bradenton area and a Champagne lover.

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s ’ n o s JFaondcrekn Historic District

9:00 Kick start the day with coffee and pastries at La Brioche. Croissants, assorted muffins, brioche breakfast sandwich or soufflé are also on the menu. The colorful macarons are almost too pretty to eat! 10:00 Shopping in Fondren is a treat. This quirky area is known for unique boutiques and shops offering everything from clothing and furniture to vintage vinyl and art. Getting around is a breeze with the Fondren Express. The trolley runs Monday through Friday throughout the area. Noon Lunch at Saltine Oyster Bar where seafood meets Southern. Of course, there are delicious oysters but the extensive menu also includes salads, Po’ Boys, sandwiches and daily lunch specials like pork chops and catfish. 1:30 Visit the Fondren Art Gallery and frame shop. Pick up a piece of local Mississippi art or create your own. They offer private lessons for individuals or groups. Call ahead to book. Open Tuesday through Thursday. 3:00 Cool off with a shake or malt at Brent’s Drugs. Open since 1946, this soda fountain is still creating delicious handspun ice cream creations today. Order a classic vanilla or add peanut butter and strawberries for a spin on the classic PB&J. 4:30 Work off the shake with a walk through Fondren Park. The park includes a walking/ jogging trail, outdoor concert pavilion, playground and a community garden. 5:30 Dinner at Walker’s Drive-In. Casual atmosphere with mouth-watering dishes prepared by award-winning Chef Derek Emerson. Wagyu short ribs, Miso-marinated seabass or Redfish with lump crab meat are just a few of the entree options. After Dinner: Enjoy a refreshing after dinner drink at The Apothecary. Wine, beer and classic cocktails are served along with seasonal specialty drinks like the Sun ‘N’ Sand or Mezcal Magnolia. First Thursdays: “Fondren After 5” is another great option if you are in town on the first Thursday of the month. It’s a giant neighborhood open house to explore the shops, restaurants, and bars. Fun for all ages. 42 DeSoto

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Fondren is only three miles from downtown Jackson, MS. The area runs from Woodrow Wilson Avenue to the south, Northside Drive to the north, the ICR Railroad line to the west and Interstate-55 to the east. Settled by the Richard Fondren family in the late 1800s, the area has undergone a cultural renaissance in recent years.

To plan your visit:

The Inaugural Mississippi Food and Wine Festival June 13 - 15

The Fondren Renaissance Foundation will present this culinary three-day event to promote the eclectic and award-winning Fondren community. In conjunction with the Food and Wine Festival, the fifth annual Mississippi Craft Beer Festival will be held on Friday evening along Fondren’s Duling Avenue and will feature over 100 craft beers from breweries around Mississippi and the region. The festival will feature four private dinners held on Thursday and Friday, hosted by The Cedars, Lou’s Full Serve, Brent’s and Albert’s at Parlor Market. Saturday evening will be the “Grand Tasting” featuring chefs, distillers and brewers from the area community. A portion of the funds raised will be given to local food-centered charities. For a complete schedule of events and ticket information visit

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greater goods | FATHER’S DAY

father’s day




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1. Barry’s Fine Woodworking cutting boards, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 2. Big Green Egg Eggcessories, Complete Home Center, 32 E Commerce St, Hernando, MS 3. Properly Tied button down and hat with wine bag, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 4. MudPie Grill platter and spatula, Ultimate Gifts, 3075 Goodman Road E, Southaven, MS 5. Hand towels, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 6. Southern Chef BBQ sauce and seasonings, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 7. Icemule Coolers, The Wooden Door, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 8. Hairy Farris art blocks, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 9. Things for Dad, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 10. Assorted Barware, Ultimate Gifts, 3075 Goodman Road E, Southaven, MS 11. Canoe Wine Bags, The Wooden Door, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS

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greater goods | WEDDING GIFTS

wedding gifts








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1. Crossroads pottery, Bon Von, 214 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 2 Picture frame, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 3. Home Sweet Home sign, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 4. Luxury Lite realistic candles, Bon Von, 214 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 5. MODS Custom Made Sign, The Wooden Door, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 6. MudPie Picture Frame, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 7. Fingerprint Initial Platter, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 8. Etta B pottery, Southern Traditions, 120 W Bankhead St A, New Albany, MS 9. Prayer Bowl, Ultimate Gifts, 3075 Goodman Road E, Southaven, MS 10. Coffee mugs, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 11. Mudpie salt & pepper shakers, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 12. Beautiful coffee table books, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS

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“I do.” 2019 edition

“I do ” D

Photo by Snap Happy Photography

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Karah Galloway

& Landon Knight

THE BIG DAY September 29, 2018 Cedar Hall in Bartlett, Tennessee

30-A PROPOSAL Karah and Landon were engaged at their annual family beach vacation in Seagrove Beach. Every year they take family photos. It was their turn to pose for pictures. As they posed, Landon got down on one knee and asked Karah to spend forever with him.

BRIDE’S GOWN: Spaghetti strap gown with an open back and lace detail from Barefoot Bride FLOWERS: Pastels mixed with greenery designed by John Mark Enterprises PHOTOGRAPHER: Angela Ammons CAKE: Cakes for All Occasions THE HONEYMOON: Hyatt Ziva all Inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico

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Lauren McKenzie THE BIG DAY

& Daniel Norton

June 23, 2018 The Cadre Building in Memphis, Tennessee

VALUES AND TRADITIONS When it came to the ceremony, the couple wanted to make sure their values and traditions played a big role focusing on the union God had planned for them. A string trio played “Trumpet Voluntary” as Lauren walked down the aisle. James Lewis, Lauren’s preacher since grade school, officiated the ceremony. Their closest friends and family were their by their side to witness the couple’s special day.

GOWNS: The bride wore a sweetheart neckline Stella York gown from Gloria’s Bride & Formal. The bridesmaids wore dresses from Bella Bridesmaids. PHOTOGRAPHER: Snap Happy Photography FLOWERS: Deedra Stone Designs CAKE: Decorator’s Delight RECEPTION BAND: Party Planet HONEYMOON: Oyster Bay, Jamaica

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Catrina Lee THE BIG DAY

& Ryne Wammack

April 21, 2018 Mallard’s Croft in Byhalia, Mississippi

A TRUE SIGN Catrina says it was the sweetest proposal! Ryne had been acting odd about their family photos at the Snowden House the week leading up to proposing. When they arrived, they started taking photos behind the home. Ryne looked at Catrina and said that he had been wanting to ask her something for quite some time... then out of nowhere he turned her around to where both of their parents were standing behind them. Catrina and Ryne’s daughter, Emma, held up a sign that read, “Will you marry Daddy?” She looked back down and Ryne was on one knee asking her to be his wife!

BRIDE’S GOWN: Mori Lee gown with lace sleeves and sweetheart neckline THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Photography by Adele THE FOOD: Scotty’s Smokehouse Catering CAKE: Lee Lee’s Sweetshop THE HONEYMOON: The couple spent their honeymoon relaxing on the beaches of Destin, Florida.

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Anna Harrington THE BIG DAY

& Austin Riley

November 3, 2018 Hernando United Methodist Church in Hernando, Mississippi

A ROMANTIC RIVER WALK Anna and Austin were taking a sunset walk by the Mississippi River in downtown Memphis on November 25, 2017. Austin suddenly turned toward Anna, dropped to one knee and asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. Anna’s dream guy had just popped the question! Of course, Anna said, “yes.”

THE RECEPTION: One Memphis Street BRIDE’S GOWN: Madeline Gardner dress from Low’s Bridal PHOTOGRAPHER: Jon Sharman THE FOOD: Pink Flamingo Catering THE FLOWERS: JK Flowers from Hernando, Miss. THE MUSIC: The Dantone’s THE HONEYMOON: Anna and Austin spent their honeymoon in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

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Cayla Hobson

& Anthony Edwards

THE BIG DAY June 16, 2018 Cedar Ridge Events in Coldwater, Mississippi

A PUMPKIN PROPOSAL As a little girl, Cayla had always dreamed of a pumpkin proposal. On a Sunday afternoon in early November, Cayla and Anthony joined friends for lunch at their home. They encouraged Cayla to go outside and see their pergola in their backyard. Outside there were over thirty pumpkins! Three of the pumpkins were carved to say “Will you marry me?”

THE THEME: Outdoor summer wedding with rustic touches BRIDE’S GOWN: Lace top gown with tulle on the bottom from David’s Bridal. The bride added the diamond belt PHOTOGRAPHER: Snap Happy Photography shot the entire wedding from beginning to end. FOOD AND FLOWERS: Cedar Ridge Events CAKE: The Cake Lady Bakery in Southaven, Miss. THE HONEYMOON: Carnival Cruise to Key West, Florida and the Bahamas

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Jordan Anderson

& Tyler Royals

THE BIG DAY April 13, 2019 Rose Garden at Botanic Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee

A SUNSET SURPRISE Late April 2018 on a trip to Destin, Florida, the couple were enjoying a beach picnic, when Tyler got on one knee and proposed at sunset.

THEME: Katie Lipscomb Events created a Mid-Summer Night’s dreamscape and secret garden CAKE: Four tiered cake with metallic gold frosted flowers and green leaves cascading down the sides by Frost Bake Shop GOWN: Princess style gown with lace and long train from Low’s Bridal, accented with sparkling belt and full-length veil PHOTOGRAPHER: Lindsay Vallas Ott Photograhy from Jackson, Miss. HONEYMOON: The couple fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting Greece. The two week trip started at the island of Patmos and ended in Santorini.

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1 Memphis Street. Hernando, Mississippi Photo by Katie Millican Photography

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Setting the Stage

By Karon Warren 1 Memphis Street photography by Katie Millican Photography and Jon Sharman The Gin at Nesbit photography by Whit Photography Graceland Chapel in the Woods courtesy of Graceland Mallard’s Croft by Smash Photography and Cotton House

Finding a great wedding venue is one of the most important choices couples will make because the location determines the style and tone of a wedding. DeSoto 61

Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods

Choosing the right location for your wedding goes a long way in setting the stage for the type of wedding you will have. A church wedding tends to be more formal and solemn while an outdoor wedding tends to be more relaxed in tone. The venue impacts many of the wedding decisions you will make, including what style of attire your wedding party and guests wear, the flowers you select and the type of ceremony you have. Of course, size also plays a role in selecting a venue given you want to choose a space that accommodates all of your guests without anyone feeling crowded. At the same time, you don’t want to choose a large venue if you are having a small wedding, lest you feel dwarfed by such a large space. And for most – if not all – brides, price remains a primary factor in choosing a wedding venue. This could be a significant portion of your overall wedding budget, so it will help determine which venues you can and cannot afford. Thankfully, there is a lot of variety in wedding venues throughout northwest Mississippi and Memphis, so finding a location that suits your needs and budget is easier than ever. Take a closer look at these six popular wedding venues:

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Bonne Terre Inn Nesbit, Mississippi 662-781-5100 Hosting weddings since the 1990s, Bonne Terre Inn in Nesbit is composed of a Southern Country Inn, a wedding chapel, and Ashley Hall (a Colonial Williamsburg-style reception and banquet facility). In addition, the 23 wooded acres offer many possibilities for outdoor weddings, and it’s appropriate that Bonne Terre means “good earth” in French. In fact, estate manager Nicki Sztapka says it is the property’s grounds that make Bonne Terre a unique wedding venue. “Choose any spot for your outdoor wedding, with the chapel as a backup in the case of bad weather,” she says. For indoor weddings, Bonne Terre Inn Event Resort can accommodate up to 250 seated guests; that number increases to 500 for outdoor weddings. Built in 1999, the chapel comfortably seats 200 guests and features lovely stained-glass windows. Bonne Terre hosts weddings year-round, including Sunday and Monday weddings. Not surprisingly, fall is a very popular time. “Wedding season in the South is the fall,” Sztapka says. However, for many brides, that means choosing a date

around their chosen college football team’s schedule. And that, surprisingly, leads to some interesting wedding dates. “In football season, some couples are getting married on weekdays,” Sztapka says. At the moment, she says couples should book between six months and one year out in order to receive the date they want for their wedding. Of course, if a specific date is not important, availability is much more flexible. “If you have a man and a dress, you can get married this afternoon,” Sztapka jokes. When planning their wedding at Bonne Terre Inn Event Resort, brides also have the option of booking accommodations on site for the wedding party. The main inn contains 10 rooms, with three rooms at the small inn and two bedrooms set up in the barn. The inn is only 20 minutes from the Memphis airport. Sztapka says many brides love having their family and wedding party all together for their wedding weekend. Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods Memphis, Tennessee 901-332-3322 Although Elvis Presley’s iconic home in Memphis has stood since 1939 and earned its place in pop culture history in 1957 when he purchased the home and made it his own, Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods has a more recent past. The original Chapel in the Woods was constructed 18 years ago and hosted more than 2,000 weddings, dedications and vow renewals – most by diehard Elvis fans. In 2018, the newly designed Chapel in the Woods was unveiled, revealing a modern design and floor-to-ceiling windows that make the surrounding grounds a part of the decor. Seating up to 100 guests, the chapel also includes an intimate reception area. Naturally, the new facility kicked off its inaugural season with a wedding for two serious Elvis fans. “The Chapel in the Woods was christened during Elvis Week 2018 with the wedding of a couple that actually met at Graceland in 2015 during Elvis Week,” says Christian Ross, PR and marketing specialist for Graceland. “We also hosted 10 vow renewals of couples whose love stories were sparked by Elvis.” DeSoto 63

1 Memphis Street. Anna and Austin by Jon Sharman Austin was recenty called up to the Atlanta Braves and hit a home run on his debut MLB game!

More recently, a couple who worked together on the upcoming Hallmark Movie “Wedding at Graceland” tied the knot in the chapel. Their first dance song? The Elvis hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” When it comes to booking a wedding at the Chapel in the Woods, it might be easier than you think. “For couples looking to get married at Graceland, depending on availability, we can actually accommodate requests about a week in advance,” Ross says. “This gives us enough time to confirm a minister.” Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods also is within walking distance to The Guest House Resort & Hotel, so couples, the wedding party and wedding guests can stay nearby for the big day. 1 Memphis Street Hernando, Mississippi 901-550-5632 For 16 years, Piet Zee drove by the old 1930s cotton seed warehouse sitting on the square in Hernando and knew he wanted to buy it. In 2014, he and his wife, Gina, finally purchased the building. “We bought it knowing we wanted to do something to give back to Hernando,” Gina says. However, they also knew they weren’t prepared to do it alone, so they enlisted the help of Dale Wilson, who would become their business partner. “He was the one with the style and design,” Gina says. “Piet had vision for the space.” 64 DeSoto

In restoring the building, the trio incorporated reclaimed items, such as bricks from a former building in Memphis, 1902 windows from a retired industrial building in Cullman, Alabama, and vintage doorknobs on the ladies’ room doors. The restoration caught the attention of area brides, who started reaching out to the Zees about events. “Brides came before the doors were open,” Gina says. “We opened in 2015, and they just kept coming.” 1 Memphis Street can comfortably accommodate up to 200 guests with the ceremony set up in the same room as the reception. Depending on the setup, the space will hold between 140 and 165 for a seated reception with dance floor and up to 292 for a mingling reception. There’s also a patio out back and in the front. For brides wanting a specific date, they should book a year out; less time is required for those with more flexibility. Fall remains the most popular season, but the venue also is booking a lot of Christmas weddings.

Cotton House, Cleveland, Mississippi

The Gin at Nesbit Nesbit, Mississippi 901-504-5264 Open in 2018, The Gin at Nesbit resides in a late 1800s cotton gin-turnedsupper club. Previous to its reincarnation as a wedding venue, the building sat vacant for 15 years. When owners Stafford and Christy Houston purchased the property, it was not with the vision of making a wedding site. “My husband bought the building to expand his iron business next door,” Christy says. “But it cost too much to do what he wanted to do. We tried to sell it for about eight months, but then decided it would be a good venue.” It didn’t take long for the Houstons to realize they made a good decision. “We had a really good response right from the start,” Christy says. “There was a need for a bigger venue in this area. Also, [brides] love the industrial look.” That industrial look doesn’t come just from the building’s origins. Inside, there are reclaimed doors from a Memphis train station and bricks from Sledge, Mississippi. Outside, a newly enclosed courtyard space was just added to the facility. With more than 13,000 square feet, the Gin at Nesbit hosts up to 350 people for a wedding, and dates are going fast. “We’re hoping for two weddings a month,” Christy says. “September through November is fully booked. You should call now for dates.” Cotton House, Cleveland Cleveland, Mississippi 662-843-7733 New to the wedding scene in northwest Mississippi is the Cotton House in Cleveland, which is opening its doors this month. This new property from the Marriott Tribute Portfolio brings together elements of the old and new South to celebrate the people, places and sentiment of the Delta. The Cotton House also offers several options for wedding events. For instance, the Donelson Room accommodates up to 250 guests in 2,496-square-feet. The ballroom features industrial interiors that serve as a backdrop for weddings of every style. Directly adjacent to the Donelson Room, The Lawn provides an outdoor DeSoto 65

Gin at Nesbit by WhitPhotography

space for ceremonies and as overflow for indoor events. For smaller, more intimate affairs, the 728-square-foot Bar Fontaine welcomes up to 50 guests in an atmosphere of industrial, metal-plated walls with contemporary furniture. There’s also a rooftop patio, where you can have wedding pictures taken during a Mississippi sunset. Now is a great time to book as many dates remain available. However, to ensure you get the date you want, call as soon as you have chosen your date. Mallard’s Croft Byhalia, Mississippi 901-496-2840 or 901-494-2937 Owners Tom and Lucy Green originally purchased Mallard’s Croft for family who came to visit. At that time, the barn was just a pole barn, and not a pretty one, either. “It was horrible-looking,” property manager Diana Younts says. Younts was talking with Tom one day and mentioned that many brides today are getting married in barns. Tom told her he would build it out as a wedding venue if she booked a wedding. As it happened, Younts had a friend whose daughter 66 DeSoto

was looking for a place to get married. And the rest, they say, is history. Green had the property ready to go in just three months. That was in 2014; since then, the property has hosted more than 200 weddings. Today, the property includes the barn, a farmhouse and a duck preserve. Wait. A duck preserve? That’s right. In addition to weddings, the property also hosts duck hunts. Back at the barn, though, the venue can accommodate 220 guests for a seated dinner event and between 250 and 300 for a buffet. Combining rustic with elegance, the barn features 1760 louvered windows found in Pennsylvania and church pews from Scotland. Along with the barn, the property also contains a cottage and 600 acres overflowing with locations for outdoor weddings, receptions and rehearsal dinners. “It’s a very homey, casual and personal feeling here,” Younts says. “It’s very welcoming.” For fall dates, brides need to book between a year and a year and a half in advance; those seeking spring dates can book between nine months and a year. Younts has advice for all brides no matter which kind of venue they choose. “Make sure your venue has a lot of character and personality to it,” recommends Younts. “Have a wedding that represents you and your fiancé. Don’t try to duplicate another wedding. Look for venues that give you opportunities to think outside the box.”

Mallards Croft by Smash Photography

Karon Warren is a freelance writer based in Ellijay. Georgia. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Karon also writes for as well as her blog,

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What are you going to wear? By Deborah Burst | Photography courtesy of Studio Tran, Deborah Burst

Weddings are no less stressful for mothers when it comes to finding the perfect outfit. A recent mother-ofthe-bride offers her shopping tips in her quest for the perfect dress.


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Mel & Missy Cousins

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James Newton, Julie Burst, Catherine Cousins Burst, Jared Burst, Deborah Burst, Michael Burst

Deborah & Michael Burst

Yes, it’s a momentous string of events, tears of joy with the proposal, the engagement party, a shower or two, and lots of fun planning the wedding events. But don’t forget you, too, will be one of the stars of the show and you need to find that perfect dress. Many of us have little experience in such a feat, especially since those days of tight-fitting dresses were over decades ago. However, we can still look like a member of the royal family or even better, a character lifted from the pages of a fairy tale. Most women love to shop, and no matter your preference—online, rental, or department store—there are more options now than ever before. After shopping for two dresses in six months’ time – for both my son and daughter’s weddings – there were many lessons learned, from weaving through jungles of jeweled jackets to dreamy designer gowns fit for a queen. It was a surreal journey, both funny and frustrating, in finding that most perfect dress. Unfortunately, it seems the higher-end bridal shops no longer carry the mother-of-the-bride designs. However, there are discounted bridal shops that do offer a more substantial selection of dresses for mom in both prices and sizes with the added luxury of an assistant who will grab a different size dress or bring in a seamstress for estimates. Most prefer an appointment, but they do accept walk-ins. Depending on 70 DeSoto

the degree of modifications, the cost of alterations can be pricey; look for a local seamstress in your community for more reasonable prices. Be creative in your shopping, both online or in stores. Be upfront with your salesperson: tell her what you like, and most of all, what you don’t like. When searching online, think twice about the description typed in the search bar. Often times, it will list some pretty dull mother-of-the-bride dresses; instead try typing evening attire, formal wear, or ball gowns. Most of us are in our 50s or 60s and want a more elegant look. And depending on the season and time of the wedding, some favor full length, while others prefer a tea-length.   Let’s talk clearance sales, mainly in stores that are shutting down. True, you may get a dress under $100, but at times it can be tedious trying to juggle the gowns looking through rows and rows of jumbled sizes. Be sure to check the dressing room rules, many have limits on the number of dresses you can bring in. These stores can be quite lacking in customer service as well. Speaking from personal experience, be careful who you invite to assist you on your shopping spree. It’s not the time for someone to suggest you invest in a gym membership while looking at the mirror. Dealing with a salesperson who brings in a full body girdle that looks more like a scuba wetsuit is not the

Deborah Burst, Catherine Cousins Burst, Missy Cousins

best for your morale either. Shopping online can be a lifesaver for some who don’t have time to shop. The top tier for inexpensive gowns is Amazon and JJ’s House. The beauty of online shopping is the option to narrow down your search, from price range to dress and sleeve lengths. Most are made overseas, usually China or Asian countries with a completely different sizing chart. A size 8 may be a size 14. With no prior experience in shopping for mother-of-the-bride dresses, Marlene (Missy) Cousins of Slidell, Louisiana, had her work cut out for her with two weddings in three months. Her daughters, Catherine and Caroline, introduced mom to online shopping. Cousins spent two months perusing the designs on local department store websites and then discovered the JJ’s House website.  One advantage with JJ’s is you can order a custom-fitted dress. It can take weeks to make and depending on DeSoto 71

the shipping method an additional two weeks to a month to receive the package. But Cousins learned the hard way that it is critical to get a professional seamstress to do the measurements. Trying on the dress, she had a bit of a problem zipping it up, so she asked her husband, Mel, to help. “He zipped it up all right, but I couldn’t breathe,” she said with a chuckle realizing she failed to measure her bust correctly. After gaining measurements from a seamstress, she went back to the website and found a new inventory of dresses. “I went for a totally different gown and liked the new one even better.”  For Caroline’s wedding, she decided to shop at well-known department stores, Macy’s and Dillard’s. She found a dress, but it was two sizes too big, after trying it on multiple times and getting input from the sales associate, she bought the dress and had the same seamstress work her magic. It fit perfectly for the January wedding.   Another great site is Rent The Runway. Instead of buying your dress, you rent it and return it within four days. A different twist to online shopping, you can narrow down the search with your body type, night or day event, cold or warm weather, and of course, neckline, sleeves, length and age range. If you can’t make up your mind, there’s the option to order two dresses at one time and try on both. One of the worst things about shopping on a deadline is when you spend months looking, but just haven’t found THE dress. Maybe you’re holding back on price or size, but whatever the reason treat yourself to the one place you’ve always dreamed of going. Maybe it’s a store with a jeweled facade, a rack with designer dresses and fitting rooms like bridal salons. Why not Saks Fifth Avenue in New Orleans on Canal Street? Yes, they are pricey, but they have huge sales, sometimes with 70-80 percent discounts in their finerdress department.  It was there I found my Cinderella ball-gown for my son’s wedding. That perfect find, when you look in the mirror and turn to your daughter, and instead of critiquing, there are tears. Next, big smiles watching multiple discounts ring up at the cash register, along with a complimentary glass of champagne to celebrate the experience. Now that’s primo shopping.   Sharron Fabiani Newton, the mother of the groom, James Newton, also 72 DeSoto

enjoyed shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue. She wanted something that would blend with the mother of the bride, something elegant and comfortable, a dress she could dance in. “I asked the bride (Julie Burst) about her mother’s dress—and she had a photo,” Newton explains. “The staff was VERY helpful. I bought a Halston $350 plus dress for $125!” Remember to stay true to yourself. There may be times when you are frustrated, pressured to settle for that dress that looks good at a decent price. But does it have that WOW effect? When you slide it over your head, and your daughter zips it up, and both of you get teary-eyed. That’s when you know.   Another great shopping tip, narrow down your favorite designs and send links to your daughter. If you’re lucky she will surprise you with THE dress and it fits! Now that’s a real fairytale come true!

Looking for your perfect dress for the big day? Check out these online sites:

Freelance writer Deborah Burst recently had to buy dresses for two weddings. Her son’s and daughter’s weddings were only six months apart. Although she was “beyond stressed,” the weddings had fairy tale endings. She wore a Cinderella-style ballgown for her son’s wedding, and an Alice-in-Wonderland style dress for her daughter’s, which was a gift from her daughter. A native of New Orleans, Burst now lives in Mandeville, Louisiana.

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homegrown | BOURBON PENS

The Bog pen is made from 6,000-year-old wood that predates the pyramids and Stonehenge.

Add a “Bourbon” to Your Work Day By Verna Gates | Photography courtesy of Bourbon Pens

Ever wonder what happens to old bourbon barrels? You just might be writing with a piece of one. Even at work, Joel Lockridge makes it possible to enjoy your favorite libation, but you can only be intoxicated with its beauty. While the true Southern gentleman takes pride in his signature bourbon, now that bourbon can translate into a real signature. Lockridge recycles bourbon barrels into custom writing implements from pens to fountain pens to pencils. Among the elixirs providing barrels, customers can recognize the names of a few old friends, such as Evan Williams, Jim Beam, Elijah Craig and even Jack Daniels. Bourbon Pens are made from 13 elixirs ranging from Buffalo Trace to Woodford Reserve to Bulleit. The most expensive, and popular, brand is Maker’s Mark. Even the CEO of Maker’s Mark has ordered pens from Lockridge. 74 DeSoto

As in so many inventions, Bourbon Pens begins with an accident. Lockridge began woodworking as a child making bird houses with his father. One day, soon after he had remarried, he retreated to his shop for a big project, as he said, “cutting what I shouldn’t have been cutting.” On the last cut of the last board, he was attempting what was called a rip cut, a prophetic name. The kick back threw his hand into the saw, sending him to the hospital to reattach a finger. While he waited out the recovery, he went to a demo on turning pens. While pens were still a new hobby, a friend from Kentucky delivered a challenge by sending a stave from a bourbon barrel. Working with the white oak wood permeated the air with an intoxicating scent.

“The whole workshop smelled of bourbon. I love my job!” said Lockridge. Called the “angel’s share” for the evaporated airborne bourbon, and the “devil’s cut” for the actual “white dog” liquor poured in to age, Lockridge benefits from both in his pens. The charred white oak soaks in the bourbon, sharing its burnt flavor. In return, the bourbon tints the wood a rich, earthy color. The scent accompanies the pen in a barrel sliver included in the pen package. Bourbon makers follow a strict code which dictates that all bourbon is aged in white oak barrels that can only be used once. A single barrel can be turned into about 200 pens. “The hardest part is driving to Kentucky to pick up barrels,” quipped Lockridge. A former graphic artist for printing companies, Lockridge now channels his creativity full time into making pens. There are 38 styles featured on his website, with the tantalizing offer to make one-of-a kind to fit tastes, occasions, hobbies (like golf), corporate and gift ideas. For sports fans, team colors can be your signature. Standard styles run the gamut from the classic Gentleman pen to the quirky Gear Shift that moves like a five-speed and features tire tracks on the top, band and tip. There is history in the Art Deco, Federal, Noveau Sceptre and Celtic styles. Manly styles dominate the Bullet, Skull, Cigar and Bolt Action pens. And national pride is featured in the Commander and American Patriot. Each can be customized with engraving. “I like making functional art. It is satisfying,” said Lockridge. Lockridge is not limited to bourbon barrels. His pens can be made from alligator jaw bone, antler, snake skin, exotic woods and acrylic. One of his favorite woods to work with is 6,000-year-old bog wood from England. These can be found at “It is humbling to work with it, considering wooly mammoths were roaming around it and the pyramids had not been built. When these were growing, there was no written word, metal had not been cast and they were a thousand years from stacking up Stonehenge,” said Lockhart. Within those pens can be found ingredients as varied as Swarovski Crystals, 22 carat gold, antique copper, pewter and brass, and flat-head screws. Even kaleidoscopes can be inserted into the top. Standard refills fit all of the pens. Lockridge enjoys materials with a story behind it and specialty pens can include tiny pieces of the Titanic, Harry Potter’s great hall, Yankee Stadium, and the Shawshank Tree. If you have been somewhere special, he can probably find a piece of it for a custom pen. A self-proclaimed man who is hard to buy for, Lockridge comes to the aid of shoppers everywhere. Orders have been sent to 58 countries, some of which are places “I had to find on a map.” Bourbon Pens have been shipped to places as far flung as European countries, Borneo and Macau. He jokes that his world headquarters is located in a building behind his house. Most of his income is generated at the dozens of art shows he attends across the East Coast and Southeast. Dates and locations can be found on his website. His pens start at $35 and rise to as much as $250, depending on if it’s a chrome tip or jewelry grade. While he keeps stock on hand, he can generally produce custom pens and ship within a few days. Every single pen is personally hand-crafted in his small shop south of Birmingham, Alabama, so you can sign your name with style.

Verna Gates is a Birmingham-based freelance writer. She formerly worked for Reuters, TIME and CNN.

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southern gentleman | MAKING A TOAST

A Toast to Remember By Jason Frye | Photography courtesy of Getty Images

As the best man, you’ll be expected to make a toast at your best friend’s wedding. Make it memorable for all the right reasons. Every June I say a prayer of thanks that just about every friend, cousin, and professional acquaintance who thinks we’re close friends – even though we only see each other at three conferences a year – are married. And that none of them are working on round two. Yet. It’s not that I dislike weddings or that I hate getting dressed up. Quite the contrary. My mother-in-law once told me “you clean up pretty good” (note: it was not on my wedding day when I had what retrospect tells me was a regrettable haircut). I also get sentimental at weddings, and I may even get on the dance floor. So what’s the problem? Toasts and speeches, they’ll ruin a good wedding every time. Simply put, there are too many of each. Especially 76 DeSoto

here in the South where I’ve seen wedding parties so big they could field two baseball teams and have players on the bench. When you get a wedding party that big, everyone gets to make a speech. Or toast. Or a speech with a toast at the end. It’s too much. The toasts are too long (or they rhyme, ugh), or the stories are wildly inappropriate (this isn’t the time to embarrass your best friend, do that later) or just plain dull. So, Southern Gentlemen, I’m here to help you out this wedding season. Whether you’re getting married and need to have a talk with your best man about the toast or whether you’re the best man and you’ve been asked to deliver a speech, here are six rules and they’re easy to follow:

It’s not a TED Talk. Keep your speech short and sweet. Today is about the couple, not you, so unless you have the end-all, be-all toast of toasts, remember that this isn’t the time to workshop your TED Talk or the tight five you’ve been working on for the comedy club’s open mic night. It’s time to brag about the new couple and raise a glass in their honor. Don’t tell that story. Do you have a story that end with the line “That’s why you shouldn’t iron naked” or involves the police? Or maybe one where someone was too drunk to make it to the bathroom on a camping trip and they ended up just burning their tent rather than deal with the aftermath? If you have any story that shows the groom – or bride or both of them – in anything less than a flattering light, save it. The anecdotes you tell (really, we recommend only one anecdote, but maybe you have two short ones that work well together) should demonstrate the awesomeness of the couple you are all there to celebrate. No Exes allowed. Remember how you and the groom and his ex, Amanda, used to pal around at the lake? And how on one of those days the groom did that thing that so perfectly encapsulates his personality? Well skip that story. No matter how endearing, no matter how awesome it makes him look, no matter if it’s the greatest story ever told, if it involves a woman other than the bride, skip it. No one wants to be reminded of the ex-girlfriend (or boyfriend, wife, husband, fiancée) at the wedding. Save the inside jokes for later. Say you have a long running joke, the punchline of which is “Duck, Soup!” or “Chupacabra!” or that you want to tell, how do you know if you should? Use math. If fewer than one third of the people attending will get the joke, save it to tell over nips of whiskey from a fancy flask later. Don’t wing it. Unless you’re a radio or television host, a professional public speaker, or an improv comic, don’t wing it. You’ll only ramble and end up giving a speech that’s memorable for all the wrong reasons. Oh, and on second thought, if you are an improv comic, if you’ve ever fancied yourself an improv comic, or if you’re taking improv classes, you shouldn’t wing it either. Write it down then practice. A couple walking down a New York street sees a musician get out of a cab and the fellow asks, “Sir, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Tucking his violin case under his arm, the artist replies, “Practice, practice, practice.” How do you nail your speech? Practice. Write it down. Deliver it to yourself in a full-length mirror. Read it to friends or to yourself over and over until you smooth out the rough parts and know where and when and for how long to pause to let those moments of humor, of sentimentality, of love build to the perfect ending of your toast and the perfect beginning to their wedded life. Here’s to you, and your toast: may you both be remembered for the right reasons.

Jason Frye is a freelance writer from Wilmington, North Carolina. Jason has authored three travel guides for Moon Publications and written for Southern Living and the Dallas Morning News.

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southern harmony | JUNE CALDWELL

“A song is a gift. It’s handed to you.” June Caldwell

Heavenly Sounds By Andrea Brown Ross | Photography courtesy of June Caldwell

The sounds of a harp are heavenly, but in the hands of storyteller and harpist June Caldwell the music becomes magical – especially for weddings. As a storyteller with the Mississippi Arts Commission for the past 20 years, June Caldwell had an impressive repertoire of musical instruments she could play including the piano, guitar, dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, and Native American flute. But when an opportunity presented itself nine years ago to learn how to play the harp, Caldwell couldn’t pass it up. Her music now provides the soundtrack for couples walking down the aisle and opening the next chapter in their love story. “I’ve always loved the sound of a harp. It’s just magical,” she explains. “When I had a chance to buy one locally, I couldn’t resist.” She began to teach herself how to play by using a 78 DeSoto

book. After six months, Caldwell traveled to North Carolina from her home in Pontotoc, Mississippi, to take a weeklong instructional class. She would later take a follow-up class. “From there,” Caldwell elaborates,” I actually skyped lessons from a well-known harpist in Seattle, Washington.” Crediting her parents’ love of music, she has always been immersed in some type of music. “My mother was musical,” remembers Caldwell. “She played piano and sang in the church choir. She must have taken us to every concert within a 50-mile radius growing up. “And my father…he couldn’t sing very well, but he loved music, too. Our parents really nurtured and encouraged

us to play music.” As a child, Caldwell dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer or writer. Proclaiming she didn’t have the talent to pursue those dreams professionally, she does compose her own music. “I’ve released one CD, and another one is forthcoming,” shares Caldwell. She finds inspiration from spending time outdoors, walking the trail behind her house, and working in her herb garden. When not composing or performing her own music, she enjoys playing a variety of other genres. “I love to play the blues on a harp, and I also play contemporary,” she says. “I really enjoy all types of music. I love Celtic and the folk music revival in the 1960s and 1970s, and Child ballads.” [Child ballads are 305 traditional English and Scottish ballads, anthologized by folklorist Francis James Child during the late 19th century.] It typically takes Caldwell a day or two to learn a new piece of music. More complicated pieces can take up a week. She credits harpists Laurie Riley and Lisa Lynne as two of her musical influences. The Rev. Milton Whatley, pastor of Como United Methodist Church, shares his impression of Caldwell’s music: “I’ve known June for several years through church functions and the festival in her hometown. Her talent has been a blessing to me. When our church began thinking of hosting a community Christmas concert of seasonal and sacred hymns, she was the first person to come to mind,” he says. “The concert was a success and members of the Como community loved it.” Caldwell has performed at a variety of events and venues since meeting another Mississippi Arts Commission storyteller 20 years ago. “I ended up performing with her and the rest is history,” Caldwell says. Her personal highlights include playing at Celtic festivals, the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, the Mississippi State University Conference on Oral Traditions, and the Mississippi Humanities Council 40th Anniversary Celebration. Although she has enjoyed a myriad of performing experiences, weddings are her favorite events to play. “Weddings are such happy days and a fun time. I take specific requests from brides,” says Caldwell. “I try to match the music to the audience and reach people through music.” Caldwell also reaches out to others indirectly through her music. She often donates a portion of her proceeds to Operation Smile, her favorite charity. Retired now from more than 25 years of full-time teaching, she enjoys making enameled jewelry, painting, gardening and cooking. Music, though, has been the constant in her life. In fact, she has passed on her musical genes to her children. “My daughter plays the piano, and my son plays the guitar. He’s the executive director of the Songbird Foundation in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They provide instruments and music lessons to underprivileged children and children with cancer.” Caldwell encourages those who are interested in learning to play an instrument to pick one up and get started. “I’ve worked as an assistant instructor with the hammered dulcimer in North Carolina. Adults, even elderly adults, can learn how to play. Age is not a factor,” she shares. “I hope my music makes a difference in someone’s life. I hope it makes them feel good or feel better when they listen to it,” says Caldwell. To listen to a sampling of her music, visit her You Tube channel, June Caldwell harp. Andrea Brown Ross is assistant editor of DeSoto Magazine. She resides in Como, Mississippi.

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in good spirits | LIL’ NELLIE

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Versatility with Lil’ Nellie Story and photography by Cheré Coen

Lil’ Nellie is the perfect guest for wedding receptions: just the right combination of spicy and sweet. Chilly weather inspired Ryan Wise, bar manager and mixologist at The Establishment in Charleston, when he entered a cocktail into a local contest. Sweet Lil’ Nellie even tasted like the holidays, a mixture of rye, orange-burnt honey, St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram and soda. “It was in November and my inspiration for the cocktail was from winter, football games,” he said. The cocktail wowed the contest judges, but by the time Wise entered the drink in the 2019 Charleston Food and Wine Festival, spring had arrived. But Lil’ Nellie is quite versatile, Wise insists. The spice offers a nice little punch, the burnt honey adds sweetness that’s not too sweet. Dressed with an orange garnish, it’s a lovely cocktail for special events, such as weddings. “It translates well,” he said. The Establishment opened in 2018 on Broad Street in the heart of historic Charleston. The restaurant exists between Church and State streets and takes its name from the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…,” otherwise known as The Establishment Clause. Visitors to The Establishment may be lost on the elaborate reason for its name, but not on the exquisite dining experience. For Wise, who traveled extensively as an Air Force brat and moved to Charleston to attend culinary school, the restaurant has become a great landing place. “I’ve been doing this a long time and this is the most professional group I’ve worked with,” Wise said. “The people who work here care and it shows.” As for cocktails, Wise has catered weddings in the past and suggests specialty cocktails such as Sweet Lil’ Nellie be included in receptions. His advice to brides and grooms is to keep cocktails simple and aim for ones that are crowd pleasers. Avoid complicated syrups and ingredients such as egg whites that may be troublesome for guests with allergies. Wise got married last January and is dad to a newborn. Besides having Sweet Lil’ Nellie featured in the Charleston Food and Wine Festival and enjoying a dream job, he feels very blessed. “New baby, new wife, everything is falling into place,” he said.

Sweet Lil’ Nellie 1 1/2 ounces High West Double Rye 1 ounce orange-burnt honey (recipe below) 1/2 ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram  1/2 ounce Giffard Orgeat  1 ounce club soda  3-4 drops Burlesque Bitters  1 thin slice of whole orange  Directions: Add rye, honey, Allspice Dram and Orgeat to shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for approximately 20 seconds. Double strain into a coupe glass and top with drops of club soda and bitters. Give a quick swirl with bar spoon to incorporate club soda and bitters and place the orange slice on top with bar tongs.  Orange-Burnt Honey  2 cups orange marmalade  2 cups honey  3/4 cup water  3/4 cup fresh lime juice  Directions: In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, add orange marmalade and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 1 minute. Add honey and bring to a high simmer, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Simmer for 1 minute. Stir in water and remove from heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Line a fine mesh Chinoise strainer (china cap) with two layers of cheese cloth and strain ingredients from sauce pan through strainer. Wearing food service gloves, squeeze remainder of liquid through cheese cloth. Allow mixture to cool until almost room temperature. With whisk in one hand and fresh lime juice in the other, slowly pour lime juice into mixture while whisking constantly to incorporate thoroughly. Yields approximately 1.5 quarts.

Cheré Coen is a food and travel writer and author living in Lafayette, Louisiana. She is always on the lookout for interesting cocktails.

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exploring events | JUNE Spirits of the Passage: The Story of the the Transatlantic Slave Trade Through August 11 Two Mississippi Museums Jackson, MS Explore rare, firsthand accounts of loss and resilience from the unlikely discovery of a sunken slave ship. For more information visit spirits. Cedar Hill Farm Pick-Ur-Own June 1- July 31 Cedar Hill Farm Hernando, MS Cedar Hill Farm is open during produce season every Monday-Saturday 8am-4pm. Visit the farm and pick some of the crops yourself or you can call ahead and CHF can pick an order for you. Depending on the weather Blackberry picking is first of June to first of July and Blueberries end of June to end of July. Always call ahead at 662-429-2540 to verify picking times and availability or visit In the Park After Dark Movie Night Latimer Lake Park Horn Lake, MS June 1- “Black Panther” June 15 - “Avengers Infinity War” July 6 - “Aquaman” Come enjoy a free movie under the stars. Bring your lawn chair, blankets and snacks. Alcohol not permitted. For more information, call 662-342-3468 or visit Movie at the Magnolias June 6 Aberdeen, MS Outdoor movie on the front lawn of The Magnolias. A beautiful Greek Revival Antebellum Mansion, built in 1850. Bring your lawn chairs or blanket and enjoy a family friendly movie. (662) 369-9440. First Friday Art Walk June 7 – August 2 DeSoto Arts Council Hernando, MS 5:00pm - 7:00pm Enjoy art, wine and cheese! Businesses around the DeSoto Arts Council area in Hernando will be open and feature art in their businesses. You may even find artists displaying their art and musical entertainment! For additional information, email or call 662-404-3361. DeSoto Family Theater Presents “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” June 7-16 Landers Center Theater Southaven, MS Purchase tickets at Landers Center box office 662-470-2131 or For additional information visit or call 662-280-6546.

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Movies Under the Stars June 7 - 28 Wesson House Olive Branch, MS Bring the family and enjoy the beginning of summer by watching a FREE Movie Under the stars. Concessions will be available, offering hot dogs, drinks, popcorn and snacks. Movie will begin at dusk, approximately at 8pm. A fun night for the entire family! For more information call 662-893-0888 or visit Creative Aging’s Senior Arts Series special presentation of Theatre Memphis’ rendition of the Broadway hit Hairspray June 12 Theatre Memphis Memphis, TN 1:30pm More information and advance tickets visit Tickets are also available at the door for a minimum donation of $5 (cash or check). Limited wheelchair seating is available; to reserve a wheelchair space call (901) 272-3434. Motorcycle Ride and Fundraiser June 15 Burnsville, Mississippi Fire Department For more information call 662-427-9526. Florida Georgia Line June 15 BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove Park Southaven, MS. 7:00pm For ticket info visit Train and GooGoo Dolls June 23 BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove Park Southaven, MS 7:00pm For ticket information visit Peter Frampton- Finale June 26 Orpheum Theatre Memphis, TN 8:00pm For more information visit or call 901-525-3000. The Outlaws & Renegades Tour June 28 BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove Park Southaven, MS Travis Tritt, The Charlie Daniels Band and special guests The Cadillac Three. For ticket information visit

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reflections | THE WEDDING QUILT

The Wedding Quilt Story and Photograph by Dayle Shockley

I come from a long line of Southern women who were handy with a needle and thread. Sewing, crocheting, embroidering, quilting — they could do it all. Through the years, I’ve been the lucky recipient of some of my ancestors’ creations. Delicate dresses. Intricate doilies. Embroidered pillowcases. But the quilts reign supreme as my most beloved family heirlooms. I have close to a dozen vintage quilts and until a few years ago, I had no place to display them. But while roaming the aisles at a local antique shop, I spied a tiger oak hutch with shelves and beveled glass doors. My heart skipped a beat. It was perfect. Occupying a prominent place in my home, this hutch is filled with quilts of assorted colors and patterns, all pieced together with scraps of fabric from an ancestor’s sewing basket. Next to the quilts, I’ve placed photos of the amazing women who created them, each quilt bearing the uniqueness of its maker. The oldest quilt in my collection was made by my maternal great- grandmother, a gentle woman named Edna Earl, but everyone called her Kate. She made this quilt as a gift to her son, Thomas, and his new bride, Lucille, my maternal grandparents, on the first winter following their marriage in northeast Mississippi in 1924. It was custom back then. If your child got married, you gifted the newlyweds with a quilt for their first winter together. How romantic is that? Almost 100 years old, this quilt is still in good condition. The idea of my 84 DeSoto

grandparents using it in the early years of their marriage, then wrapping it around their two children (one of them being my mother), fills me to the brim with warmth. While old quilts must be handled gently, never sat on, and always respected, my quilts aren’t just to be seen. With few exceptions, they are still being used. No matter the season, there’s always a quilt draped across the sofa, waiting to bring a bit of comfort on a rainy summer afternoon, or a chilly winter night. I always thought I’d follow in my mother’s footsteps and learn to piece together a quilt, and while I can sew a little, and embroidery and crochet, I confess to being a big, fat flop in the quilt department. I hope that doesn’t make me a failure as a Southern woman. Truth is, after I married, I became more interested in piecing together words than in fabric scraps. If you think about it, though, the two aren’t all that different — writing and quilting. Much like the words that make up a diary, old quilts hold histories of their own. They reveal the colorful lives of my ancestors, their stories there in the patterns and seams, a fabric footprint in the sands of time, if you will, a treasure for some future generation to admire and, I hope, gently wrap around them on some distant evening. A native of Lucedale, Mississippi, Dayle Shockley is an award-winning writer and the author of three books. She and her husband reside in Spring, Texas.

Profile for DeSoto Magazine | Exploring the South

DeSoto Magazine June 2019  

DeSoto's 2019 "I Do" Issue! … All about weddings. A go-to guide for every bride and groom.

DeSoto Magazine June 2019  

DeSoto's 2019 "I Do" Issue! … All about weddings. A go-to guide for every bride and groom.