Fall festival, flea market fill streets downtown

Published 8:49 pm Saturday, October 1, 2016

On Cherry and Jackson streets, shoppers and the curious wandered among the booths circling the Old Courthouse Museum, looking at the arts and crafts and other items on display under tents or under the trees.

Down the hill on Washington Street, people looked and touched the animals and fur pelts displayed by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries or let parrots sit on their arm at another.

About 4,000 people came downtown Saturday as the Old Courthouse Flea Market and Downtown Vicksburg’s Fall Festival filled the street from South Street to Jackson Street with vendors offering a variety of goods. The Fall Festival also kicked off the fall Vicksburg Farmers Market, which will run through November.

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“This is a beautiful day. The weather couldn’t be better,” said Old Courthouse Museum curator/director Bubba Bolm. “This is a good fall day and a good time for people to get out and be with friends.”

He said the flea market drew 88 craft booths and 18 food booths.

The booths featured a variety of crafts and items for sale, like Jim Byrd’s bird houses, which featured buildings painted in the school colors of LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and other schools.

“This is our third trip here this year,” Byrd, from Brandon, said. “We were here for Riverfest, and the spring flea market. We’ve been going to flea markets for the past 20 years.”

The draw to the Old Courthouse, his wife Jeanie said, is the city.

“We love Vicksburg,” she said. “We like being out here in a historic setting.”

Not far from the Byrds was Lora Lee of Vicksburg, the “Mad Hatter,” another flea market veteran, who was fitting an LSU hat on Peggy Hebert from Baton Rouge, La.

“We’ve been coming here 35 years,” Lee said. “We love being out here under the trees; we love the ambiance.”

Hebert said she was in town for the opportunity “to spend time in a historic city and stay at a bed and breakfast. We didn’t know about this (the flea market); it was an added event.”

Allison Cunningham of Vicksburg was killing time at the flea market waiting for a Tae Kwon Do demonstration by her son’s group.

“And they’re spending all of their grandma’s money,” said Marilyn Alvarez who accompanied Cunningham. “Grandma’s not going to have any money for lunch.”

Margie Fusion, also of Vicksburg, was out enjoying the day with her daughter Tabitha and infant granddaughter, River.

A newcomer to the flea market was Kim Smith, who was raising funds to help her dog Wink, who she adopted from a shelter in Mobile, Ala. She said Wink had been abused before the shelter got him and had been kicked in the face.

“All the tissue and bone healed together, and he can’t breathe,” she said. Smith was “adopting” plush puppies for $5 to raise money for surgery to repair Wink’s problem “so he can breathe again.” So far, she said, surgeries to correct his problems have cost about $14,000.

While people toured the booths, others walked to the food booths on Monroe Street, lured in part by the voice of Mike Dollar and his call of “Meat Piiies!” luring people to the Christ Episcopal Church food booth for meat and crawfish pies.

“We’ve been doing this for four years,” Dollar said. “I’m the head barker. It’s fun and I like it.”

He said his calls work. “People come down the hill to see what the noise is about and who’s yelling.”

Down the hill at the farmers market at Washington and Jackson, Rosemary Murphy, who has been coming to the farmers market for the past 10 years, was seated on the tailgate of her truck behind her display of jams and baked goods.

“It’s been slower than normal,” she said of her business, “but it may pick up around noon. I’ve already sold out of my bake goods. I sold a lot of bread and cookies.”

Not far from Murphy, children were climbing over tractors on display by the Vicksburg-Warren Antique Tractor Club.

“That’s what they’re there for,” said member Calvin Hearn. “I hope we can keep coming here.”

Not far away, Betty Lee of Vicksburg was enjoying the experience of having a parrot perched on her arm.

“I’ve never had that done,” she said.

Lee said she was out with her grandchildren “to enjoy the day and help them learn a few things and enjoy the good weather and be downtown.”


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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