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Historic Jefferson College will host the tenth annual Great Big Yam Potatoes Old-Time Music Gathering and Fiddle Contest on Friday, May 19, and Saturday, May 20. This free event, sponsored by the Mississippi Fiddlers Association, will celebrate the state’s bicentennial with performances of traditional string band music and a dance at the birthplace of Mississippi statehood.

“This is one of our favorite events, and many people make a day of it,” said Historic Jefferson College director Robin Person. “I enjoy wandering between the jam sessions behind the buildings and listening to the tunes played on many types of instruments—not just fiddles!”

Events kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday in the circa-1839 East Wing with an old-fashioned barn dance featuring fiddle music by Jack Magee. Dance caller Bridget Edwards is creating a special composition titled “The Mississippi Mixer” that will commemorate the state’s two hundredth birthday.

Contestants may begin to sign up for the fiddle contests beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 20, and will compete in the Pee Wee, Junior, and Senior divisions from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Award winners in the Pee Wee group will be announced at a ceremony at 1 p.m. and senior class winners will be presented at 4:15, along with encore performances by the winners.

Live music throughout the day will be as follows:

9 a.m.—Johnny Rawls
10 a.m.—Harry Bolick
11 a.m.—Shelley Gendusa and Jack Magee
12 noon—Faith and Buddy McClure
1 p.m.—Connie and Hal Jeanes
2 p.m.—Reeves Jones
3 p.m.—Jason Smith

Aunt Suzie’s Catering will have chicken and sausage gumbo, hot-water cornbread, grilled corn, and beverages for sale. Visitors are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets.

This project was made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Jefferson College was established in 1802 as the first institution of higher learning in the Mississippi Territory. The state’s founding constitution was penned on the grounds in 1817 when Jefferson College was the site of the first constitutional convention. Now administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Jefferson College is located four miles northeast of Natchez on Highway 61 at 16 Old North Street, Natchez, MS 39120. Contact Historic Jefferson College at 601-442-2901 or

For more information on the fiddle contest rules, visit or contact the Mississippi Fiddlers Association at 601-506-6561 or email

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