Support Down From the Hills

The official State of Mississippi Bluegrass Championship was held on May 21, 2011, in conjunction with the Down From The Hills Heritage Music Festival.  
You should have been there!
There were approximately 60 contestants vying for the $9,000 dollars in prize  money.  But I would guess that having the trophy engraved as the State of  Mississippi Champion was way more important than the money. Now that is  something to be proud of.
It was a pleasure to co-host this event along with Brandon Presley, our  Northern District Public Service Commissioner. He was a pleasure to work  with. Kay Bain, host of the Morning Show on TV 9, presented some special  music between competitions.
A big thanks should go out to Jill Smith, Director of the Union County Heritage Museum; Stanley Wise of the Union County Extension Office, and  Bethany Dalton for their tireless efforts in facilitating this event.
Wow! How many cities host a state championship?
There was competition in mandolin, dobro, banjo (my personal favorite),  guitar, fiddle, and finally band.  There was some awesome talent in these contests and I want to encourage you to come next year.
As good as the  competitors were, the highlight of the day was a performance by Ben Hall.  Ben, a former international thumb picking champion, put on a display of  pickin’ that you won’t often hear. I closed my eyes and thought for sure Chet Adkins was on the stage–but no, it was Ben Hall.
If there was a down side to the day, it was the fact that this State  Championship was not supported by any of our local officials by their attendance.
I would hope in the future that this event will continue to grow  and be supported by our city and county elected leaders as well as all of our citizens of our area.
This attendance will help stamp this event as one supported by our city and county as a worthy endeavor.
So, get ready for next year.  Ya’ll get out your guitars and fiddles and do the pickin’ and I’ll do the grinning.  Heck, maybe next year we will get Allison Krause and Union Station to come and do a set for us. Now that would be awesome.

Bill Kitchens
New Albany