Shrimp & Gritz draws 100-plus

Published 10:04 pm Saturday, August 27, 2016

Music and food filled the courtyard of the Southern Cultural Heritage Center once again as the foundation put on a fundraiser to restore the convent’s east wall.

“We’re happy. People are still coming in. It’s good. I was very excited when I came here to set up and there was a nice breeze in the courtyard. We’re happy for that. It’s comfortable,” foundation executive director Stacey Massey said.

The fundraising event called Shrimp & Gritz was from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday with a meal of shrimp and grits and music by Gritz the Band.

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With weather in the 80s and a slight breeze flowing though the courtyard trees, people sat at tables and enjoyed the sounds of Gritz the Band, who offered to be the event’s entertainment, and played classics, light rock, pop, country and some blues.

“I just thought how nice that the community, even beyond Vicksburg, has reached out to help with the convent. One of the band members has a relative who went to school here. That’s how it sparked their interest; they saw it on the news,” Massey said of the Jackson-based band.

Drummer Greg Mitchell said the band had been looking to give back by playing at a benefit, and when their band leader heard about the convent wall falling, they decided this could be the event. The band was glad to be there.

“The weather turned out great. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the turnout. I didn’t know what to expect, but this is such an awesome venue that it was a real pleasure to see how many people turned out,” he said. “Hopefully they will raise a little money towards their foundation.”

The band’s name sparked the menu choice. The Gumbo Pot provided the meal of shrimp and grits and white chocolate bread pudding to those who paid for a $20 ticket.

Paula Ellis said she attends as many events held at the SCHC as she can because she loves how something is often going on and that its local, whether its an art class or a food event.

“We love what they offer here, and everything they do here we want to support,” she said.

Before the event the foundation had raised $16,000 from various fundraisers. Massey won’t know exactly how much the foundation made from this fundraiser until all ticket sales are totaled later.

“We sold probably 100 pre-sale tickets, but we’re selling them at the door too, so we won’t know until after how we’ve done,” she said.

Virginia Black came to the event because the preservation of the facility is important to her.

“I went to school here for 12 years,” she said. “I just wish they started maintenance a little sooner than they did because these are beautiful buildings.”

All the money will go toward a $25,000 matching grant that will be used to rehab the wall, first floor and chapel of the convent. Massey already wants to plan another similar fundraising event.

“We will probably keep the event, and we would love to have them back again,” she said. “We definitely would like to do it again. I think it’ll be a fun event.”