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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
No 257, Thursday, Sept 18, 2014

Important FUN-draisers this week:

This Saturday, Sept 20: 2014 DELTA BALL: Just over the levee from Old River on Saturday September 20th at Seven Chimneys Farm is the Delta Ball featuring James “Super Chikan” Johnson and the Fighting Cocks. This is a Black Tie/Fancy Affair Benefitting Teach for America, Jonestown Family Center and Coahoma Aggie School. See below for full story from Clarksdale Press Register. Please call 662-902-8429 for tickets and more info.

Next Friday, Sept 25: CAREFEST: benefitting the Care Station (which feeds over 200 people a day in Clarksdale/Cohoma County), featuring Ronnie and the Remnants, Heavy Suga’ & the SweeTones, The Blackwater Trio, John Mohead, Candace Webb and Marshall Drew at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale. Full story below.

The (sometimes annoying) Cycles of Life

I sometimes wish I could draw a small offering of blood and leave it out in a dish for those troublesome skeeters that hound us on the big river, usually after dark. They seem to follow us humanoids wherever we go, from the tundra to the jungle (although strangely, they don't seem to like the nearby hill country -- as ticks do. But if faced a choice between ticks or skeeters, I would most certainly choose the latter). Lewis & Clark had 26 different spellings for the word “muskeeter,” and how they survived their onslaughts from the sultry Missouri River summer camps one can only wonder... and shudder. Mark River describes the life-cycle importance of this often annoying, but important, creature in this week's blog.

Come see the cycles of life for yourself in any of the upcoming Rivergator Expeditions, or other offerings for big river paddling in our Fall 2014 Calendar including the upcoming Helena King Biscuit Blues Festival and Natchez’s Phatwater XIII. Be sure to pack DEET or OFF -- or best idea: long sleeve clothing for after dark.

And next time before you mindlessly slap that pesky, whining, blood-sucking vampire of the insect world as he enjoys a meal on your arm, please remember that he too has place in the grand scheme of things!

Mark River Blog: The Mosquito

As the River flows from season to season there is one animal in the natural world who gets label as useless to humans. An animal that causes humans to alter their lives, but is very essential for animals who may start their lives along the floodplain of the Mississippi River.

Mosquitos lay eggs in shallow pools along our great river providing food for many fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects,and many creatures of the benthic community of organisms.

One off the major benefactors of this misunderstood creature are dragonflies. Dragonflies start their lives in water. The nymphs, called naiads, prey almost mainly on the mosquito larva as it develops to adulthood. Many bait fish such as flathead and bullhead minnows, gizzard and threadfin shad, golden and silver shiners-all start their dutiful lives feeding on mosquito larvae. Without large populations of bait fish, there would be no large fish or predatory water birds. Frogs, salamanders, lizards, and skinks feed on these misunderstood creatures. Tadpoles almost live entirely on mosquito larvae during their developmental lives and we know how important these animals are to larger reptiles like snakes. A baby turtle’s first meal is usually small mosquito larvae, and they continue to eat them throughout adulthood. Water insects, spiders, and beetles wait patiently along bodies of water to ambush larvae as they wiggle to the surface. Once airborne, birds and bats feed on them continuously.

Humans tend to avoid them at all cost, but there's no reason to. Mosquitoes have daily patterns like humans. They avoid extreme heat as much as possible. They dislike winds that make it difficult to fly and detect carbon dioxide, which draws them to mammals. They usually come out at the sunset and reside at sunrise. In summer, find yourself a good sandbar. They tend to shy away from moving water and wind. During dry times, some species daily their development until the conditions are right. This is called diopause.

Every creature in the natural world are just as important as the rest. With the essence and nostalgia of the Mississippi River, these so-called pests could never take away from the deep connection we have to freshwater as it hydrates our bodies and souls, continuing to give all creatures life and sustainability. So don't let these nuisance creatures control your life. Get to the River and enjoy. My time on the River has never been ruined by these creatures. They are just a part of the climb to the freedoms we all yearn for.

Go to and plan your trip along the worlds greatest river.

Mark River

Mark River Peoples is a guide and teacher with Quapaw Canoe Company and is also the 1 Mississippi Southern Region Intern representing the Lower Mississippi River Foundation. Please go to for the Mark River Blog with photos, maps, videos, and other depictions of the Big River!


Sat Sept 20

Delta Ball: Featuring James “Super Chikan” Johnson and the Fighting Cocks

A Black Tie/Fancy Affair Benefitting Teach for America, Jonestown Family Center and Coahoma Aggie School

Please call 662-902-8429 for tickets and more info.

Sept 20-21

Mississippi River Bear Dance

(send inquiry email for more info)

Sept 25

CAREFEST: benefitting the Care Station, featuring Ronnie and the Remnants, Heavy Suga’ & the SweeTones, The Blackwater Trio, John Mohead, Candace Webb and Marshall Drew at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale. Full story below.


October 2-7


Huck ‘n’ Jim Mississippi River Great Books Seminar

An entirely new way to look at the river: through great literature, including Twain, Melville, TS Eliot, Charles Bell, and the Rivergator.

October 3-4

Tennessee Williams Festival

Celebrating America's Great Playwright

Clarksdale, Mississippi

Go to for schedule and more information

October 8-11

King Biscuit Blues Festival

One of the world’s greatest blues festivals

On the levee of the Mississippi River

in downtown Helena Arkansas

For complete schedule, go to:

October 11

Phatwater XIII Mississippi River Challenge

The Ultimate River Race on the Lower Mississippi!

This year you can paddle with a team of Mighty Quapaws!

learn more at:

October 14-15

Mississippi River Network Annual Meeting

October 15-17

Mississippi River Conference

October 17-19

Colton Cockrum’s Annual

Be-A-Man Expedition


Nov 15-25

Rivergator Celebratory Expedition:

St. Louis to Caruthersville

307 miles on the Mississippi River

Celebrating the Middle/Lower Mississippi River Water Trail


Dec 6-16

Rivergator Celebratory Expedition:

Vicksburg to Baton Rouge

207 miles on the Mississippi River

Celebrating the Lower Mississippi River Water Trail


March 2015: Atchafalaya River Expedition

From Three Rivers WMA to the Gulf of Mexico

via Simmesport, Krotz Springs, Flat Lake and Morgan City with side trips down mysterious side channels and bayous, and fantastic birding, amphibians, and exploration along the way!

April 2015: Rivergator Expedition:

Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico

including Plaquemines, New Orleans and Venice (bring your haz mat suits and respirator)

October/November 2015:

Rivergator Completion Celebration Expedition:

St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico

1180 miles on the Middle and Lower Mississippi River! Start: Missouri River Confluence. End: salty waters of the Carribean.

The following stories are courtesy of Jesse Wright, publisher, Clarksdale Press Register.


On Sept. 20, the Delta Ball will finally return, after a weather setback in the spring that forced a reschedule of the popular event

By Jesse Wright, publisher

Set in a bucolic, outdoor setting at Seven Chimneys Farm, one of the oldest farms in the area, the event is designed, in part, to recall the gilded age of the Delta, with society soirées, debutantes and all the rest, but moonlight and magnolias aside, this Delta Ball isn’t just for show.

The Delta Ball is also an important fundraiser that contributes tens of thousands of dollars toward local education projects.

In total, it’s a formal evening with some down-home fun for folks with generous hearts.

A ticket into the dinner and dance costs $100 per person—or $175 if you want drinks beforehand. The ball includes dinner and music by local legend James “Super Chikan”?Johnson, and then there’s a silent auction with luxury items including four nights in Ireland, divided between Dublin and a country estate in Belfast and entry into a formal Irish ball.

The Delta Ball comes around every other year, and this year’s event is only the second one ever. The first ball brought in a net total of $42,000. The money was split evenly between Teach for America and the Jonestown Family Center. This year’s ball will support those same two charities, but also the PORCH Society. The PORCH Society is the Preservation of Rural Cultural Heritage, and it was founded by Shonda Warner in 2013. Among its projects is supporting the change of direction at Coahoma Agricultural High School. Aggie is rebranding itself as an agricultural high school with an emphasis on agricultural education. The PORCH Society will likely fund either a teaching position or pay for school equipment.

Tom Pittman, the president of Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, praised the Delta Ball as a valuable fundraiser for local nonprofits. Jenn Mohead, the development director of Teach For America, agreed.

Mohead said the first Delta Ball raised enough money for her group to sponsor four teachers, and she said it’s one of the biggest events for Teach for America.

“As far as Teach for America goes, it’s probably the largest community engagement event we have and it helps us be more visible,” said Mohead. As in 2012, the funds Teach for America gets this year will also go toward sponsoring a TFA teacher.

Pittman’s organization handles the money that’s raised, and he said the first Delta Ball brought together a lot of people for a good cause.

“We thought it was a great success,” he said. “It was a fun evening that pulled together a lot of people in the community.”

Mohead, who also attended the 2012 event, agreed.

“I think it is a really great, diverse group of individuals who a care about education and Coahoma County and Clarksdale who come together. The diversity of the group is what I was struck me the first time,” she said.

Pittman estimated about 250 people came to the first Delta Ball, and he would like to see a few more this year.

“It was a nice crowd, but we’d like to do better than last time,” he said. There is no specific fundraising goal.

Aside from the ticket sales, the Delta Ball raises a lot of its money in the evening from its auction.

Besides the Ireland trip, this year’s auction items include four nights in a Chicago apartment—near the Magnificent Mile, and also there’s a four nights in Hawaii at the base of the tallest mountain on Oahu. The visitor will be surrounded by an organic fruit orchard and surf lessons are available.

But even without the trips, the Delta Ball promises to be a good time.

“Super Chikan will be there and that’s always good,” Pittman said. “There will be good Delta music there, and I think the Seven Chimneys Farm is an interesting place. It’s a different kind of venue.”

Tickets to the Delta Ball are available at Miss Del’s General Store at 145 Delta Avenue. The event is Friday. Pre-dinner drinks and a tour of the Seven Chimneys home will be at 6 p.m. Tickets for that are $175. The dinner, ball and auction will kick off at 7 p.m., and tickets for that cost $100.

For more information or for questions about the ball, call Mohead at 662-902-8429.

This article originally ran in the May 20 issue of the Press Register, but because the event was rescheduled, we have re-run the article for our readers.

For full story with photos, please go to and subscribe. Consistently unique news from the land where the river flows that gave birth to the blues -- news and stories you will not be able to find at any other source.


Third annual CareFest offers entertainment at Ground Zero: Fundraiser benefits The Care Station to help offset rising costs of food

By Rebekah Yearout, The Clarksdale Press Register

Food, entertainment and helping the community will all go together Sept. 25 at Ground Zero Blues Club during the third annual CareFest, which benefits The Care Station.

Charlie Estess, director of The Care Station, said the past two years, they’ve raised about $5,000 each year. However, he said the fundraiser is especially needed this year because of the rising cost of food.

“Our budget is about $100,000 a year, and at this point in time, as of today, we’re about $12,000 behind last year as far as the residual fund in our account, so we’re actually a little short of meeting our expenses,” Estess said. “We’ll make it until the end of the year, but we always like to have a cushion. We don’t ever want to be in a position where we pay the light bill, the gas bill and whatnot.”

He said a lot of the food The Care Station gets comes from the Food Bank in Memphis, and they have been short important items, such as bread.

“Some of the food suppliers have had to tighten their belts, so there are some products we can’t get. We always had bread, and even give loaves away at the end of the week, and right now, the bread supply has tightened up so much they hardly ever get bread at the Food Bank in Memphis. Some of the suppliers are keeping their inventories a lot tighter, so there’s not as much product left over to put in our hands,” Estess said.

He added that Kroger does “a fantastic job” of helping keep The Care Station stocked, but they still have other food costs plus overhead to consider. Estess said their gas bill has also gone up.

The Care Station delivers about 170 meals a day and feeds around 50-60 people at lunch. They also give customers a brown-bag lunch to take home on Friday to get them through the weekend.

The CareFest was the brainchild of music producer and artist Gary Vincent, who came to Estess two years ago with the idea.

“It’s going to be really cool, and the beauty of this thing is it’s a community event for the community. That’s what these guys do on a daily basis. We’d really like to bring attention to the fact that prices go up every year,” Vincent said.

Tickets cost $10, but attendees are encouraged to contribute when they pass the basket during the performances.

Vincent said they have scheduled seven local musicians and bands to play at the benefit, including himself, Ronnie and the Remnants, Heavy Suga’ & the SweeTones, The Blackwater Trio, John Mohead, Candace Webb and Marshall Drew.

Estess said that Mayor Bill Luckett is “graciously donating his space for the night,” too.

“Last year, there were 28 people there from Europe, and (Luckett) had them all come up on stage and gave them an honorary badge … a souvenir to take home. We probably had 50 people from other places that were there with the Clarksdale crowd, and every single one, when we told them what we were doing, they gave at least what we asked plus more,” Estess said. “To me, that’s really neat to know people are coming here and seeing what’s going and going home and telling people about the kinds of things that happen here in Clarksdale.”

Vincent said the goal of the event is really twofold.

“It’s a way to generate income for something that is very needy, which is great community effort, but it also is designed to increase awareness about something that is so positive for the community and continued support is so important,” Vincent said.

Tickets, which are $10, are available at local banks, Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art and the Delta Blues Museum.

For full story with photos, please go to and subscribe. Consistently unique news from the land where the river flows that gave birth to the blues -- news and stories you will not be able to find at any other source.

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