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Live blues music. Plant-a-Wish Celebration. Live carving demonstration. Canoeing and kayaking on the Sunflower River. Introducing Stand Up Paddleboards to the Sunflower! Canoeing Workshops and Rentals. Guided Adventures on the Mississippi River. Full Moon Float Sunday.

Quapaw Canoe Company

2011 Juke Joint Festival April 14-17

  1. Canoe-Carving Demonstration & Workshop
  2. Paddling on the Sunflower River
  3. Robin Whitfield Watercolor Painting Exhibition
  4. Quapaw Canoe Company River Stage
  5. Plant-a-Wish Celebration Saturday
  6. 1Mississippi -- Can the River Count on You?
  7. Full Moon Float Sunday 3-10pm

Most of the above events will take place at Quapaw Canoe Company street level 3rd & Sunflower in downtown Clarksdale all day 9-4pm every day Wed April 13 – Saturday April 16, Music Stage Saturday 11am-5pm, Full Moon Float 3pm - 10pm Sunday April 17. For complete festival schedule please go to .

Canoe-Carving Demonstration & Workshop

Quapaw Canoe Company

9 am to 4 pm Wednesday - Saturday

KIPP Dugout Canoe being carved to completion with a team of students from the KIPP Delta College Prep School of Helena, Arkansas. "There are no Shortcuts" in the Dugout Canoe! "We are a Team, we are a Family!" "Cross the River to the College!" "Carve Hard, Be Nice!"

Paddling on the Sunflower River

Quapaw Canoe Company

9 am to 4 pm Wednesday - Saturday

Canoe or kayak or SUP. Paddle the beautiful (and muddy!) Sunflower River through downtown Clarksdale with the “back-door view” of Red’s Lounge, The Riverside Hotel and many other blues-related monuments. Possible run through a Delta Wilderness with a take-out at Historic Hopson Plantation. Meet Location: Quapaw Canoe Company, 289 Sunflower (Third Street & Sunflower, opposite Sarah’s Kitchen). Contact: 662-627-4070 or 902-7841. See below for options & rates.

Robin Whitfield Watercolor Painting Exhibition

Quapaw Canoe Company

9 am to 4 pm Wednesday - Saturday

Exhibition of paintings at Quapaw Canoe Company by renowned Mississippi kayaker-artist Robin Whitfield. Robin Whitfield spends her time exploring the forests, rivers and swamps near her home in Grenada, MS. She works on location with watercolors focused on the seasonal conditions, plants, and animals of specific places. The surface of swamp water, the layered banks of rivers, and the seasonal offerings of field and forest also leave their marks, shapes, and colors directly on her paper. These experiments are leading her into new directions. For more information go to

1Mississippi -- Can the River Count on You?

Quapaw Canoe Company

9 am to 4 pm Wednesday - Saturday

Ongoing Exhibit and Southern campaign headquarters for the 1Mississippi River Citizen Program. Come on over and learn about how you can help protect and better the waters of America, our drinking water, swimming water & lifeblood of the nation. Become a River Citizen and join us in making the Mississippi River sparkle like the beautiful “Queen of Rivers” that she is.


11am - Bill Abel

Noon - Cadillac John & Bill Abel

1pm - Anthony "Big A" Sherrod

2pm - Eddie Cusic

3pm - Adam Gussow & Shine Turner

4pm - Rotten Belly Blues Band

Go to for complete festival schedule

Plant-a-Wish Celebration (Saturday 12noon)

Saturday during Quapaw Music Stage. Plant-a-Wish is traveling to all 50 states to plant dreams & trees. Plant-a-Wish works with local communities to participate in a ritual of writing wishes on scraps of paper and plant them with the indigenous trees. This simple act is having a profound effect on people who are now feeling a little more connected to the local habitats they call home. They have already planted historic wish trees in 25 states.

Full Moon Float Sunday 3-10pm

Write or call 662-902-7841 for reservation. Meet at 3pm at Quapaw headquarters 289 Sunflower Avenue in downtown Clarksdale gear up, and then shuttle to Montezuma Landing, which is directly above Friars Point. We’ll paddle by the last light of day to Island 61 where we’ll make supper and watch the sun set over the waters of Old Town Bend. Shortly thereafter we’ll witness moonrise over the main channel of the Mississippi as it makes the turbulent escapade below Kangaroo Point. After supper, we’ll push off into the shimmering waters of the river, the darkness of the boils highlighted by shining whirl lines, boil lines, and moon reflections. By moonlight we’ll paddle around Old Town Bend, and then silently slip in between Is. 62 and 63. Sometime around midnight we’ll cut into the channel below Island 63 and meet our shuttle driver Ellis Coleman “Mr. Smooth Dancer” at Quapaw Landing. Call ahead to make your reservation. $100/person includes all river gear, shuttle & BarBQue w/Corn-on-the-Cob on the sandbar.

Description: Paddling on the Sunflower River

Intro: Beautiful paddling through downtown Clarksdale, and upstream & downstream as well. Re-discover Clarksdale from its main artery, the Sunflower River. Back-door view of riverbank blues places like Red’s Juke Joint and the historic Riverside Hotel. Get close to Mississippi Delta Wildlife such as fish, turtles, snakes, frogs, song birds, birds of prey (mainly hawks & owls) wading birds & other waterfowl, occasional deer, possum, armadillos, raccoon & beaver. Flat water. Easy paddling. Guide service available. Do your own paddling & shuttling or we can provide canoes, kayaks and shuttle service. See below.

5 paddling options on the Sunflower River:

1) Downtown Clarksdale “Back-Door Blues Shuffle & Turnaround” (1-3 miles): Start off downstream under the Railroad Bridge and paddle behind Delta Hardware (Charlie Musselwhite CD), Ground Zero Blues Club, Red’s Juke Joint, Martin Luther King Park, the Riverside Hotel (where Bessie Smith died in 1937), and make a u-turn under the Blues Highway 61. Paddle back. Flexible timing, you decide how fast you want to paddle, and how soon you want to turn around. Leave from Sunflower Landing (behind Quapaw Canoe Company).

2) Downtown Parks & Wilderness (1-3 miles): Paddle upstream behind City Hall, around Soldier’s Field and enter the rich Cypress forest hidden along the banks of the river. You will be amazed by the variety of wildlife in this thriving floodplain ecosystem. Commonly seen are egrets, great blue herons, red eared turtles, mississippi map turtle, needlenose gar, red shouldered hawk, beaver and river otter. Paddle up to the Duckwalk Park and make turnaround for a leisurely paddle back downstream. Leave from Sunflower Landing (behind Quapaw Canoe Company).

3) Clark Park to Sunflower Landing (3 miles) Leisurely 3 mile paddle into downtown Clarksdale through some of the woods & neighborhoods north of town. Owls & beavers. Paddle through the cypress, oaks & sycamores of the Duck Walk. You’ve never seen downtown until you’ve seen it from the river! Put-in at Clark Park (Lee Drive & Friars Point Road). Take out at Sunflower Landing (Public Parking just downstream of 2nd Street Bridge). Shuttle available.

4) Clover Hill to Sunflower Landing (10 miles) 3-4 hours of paddling. Wild & remote-feeling. Great views of Coahoma County as it used to look. Paddle through woods & fields for miles and not see anyone. No people or buildings until you get close to Clarksdale. Lots of deer, ducks, owls, hawks, and migrating birds. Put in at bridge near Clover Hill. (turn off Friars Point Road at Kenoy’s and go East half mile on Farrell-Eagle’s Nest Road. Park on SE side of the 2nd Bridge. Put in below bridge. Take out at Sunflower Landing (Public Parking just downstream of 2nd Street Bridge)

5) Sunflower Landing to Hopson (6 miles) 2-3 hours of paddling. Leave downtown Clarksdale and paddle under the Railroad Bridge behind Delta Wholesale Hardware, Red’s Juke Joint, the Riverside Hotel, 61 Highway – you will see why the Sunflower River has the blues! The river alternates between short narrow passages with clogged channels through submerged trees and long pools bordered by big trees and wide fields. The banks are thick with hawks, owls & deer. Put in Sunflower Landing

(Public Parking just downstream of 2nd Street Bridge). Take out at Hopson Bridge

Rental & Shuttle Rates

Canoe Rental Half Day: $35/canoe with paddles & life jackets for 2 people

Canoe Rental Full Day: $70/canoe with paddles & life jackets for 2 people

Kayak or SUP Rental: $35/person/trip with paddle & life jacket

Shuttle Rates (per person with canoes & kayaks):

Sunflower Landing – Clark Park: $15

Sunflower Landing – Clover Hill: $25

Sunflower Landing – Hopson: $25

20% off for Friends of the Sunflower River in current good standing!!!

Who Are the Friends of the Sunflower River?

Friends of the Sunflower River is all about appreciating and caring for the lonely little river that winds its way through the center of the Mississippi Delta, from Friars Point to Clarksdale, from Mound Bayou & Merigold to Sunflower; from Indianola to Anguilla, from Holly Bluff to Vicksburg.

This river has the blues! Besides the many blues & gospel musicians who were born & baptized along its banks, its mussel shell beds (which are reported to be the richest such biota in the world) seem to be in constant danger of overzealous engineering. The Sunflower River has been neglected and over-worked; so much that it was proclaimed America’s “Most Endangered River” in 2003.

The good news is that its forests constitute the largest bottomland hardwood forests in the National Forest system (they also produce the highest carbon-sequestration of any forests in North America!), and its banks are home to every creature winged, webbed or otherwise, found native to the Mississippi Delta. It’s a beautiful place to get away, to reflect a moment on the rivers and woods of America, to walk along its banks, to paddle its waters, to enjoy its scenery. Most importantly, its home to all of us who live on or near its banks, and second home to many others who love it from a distance. Shouldn’t we be taking better care of our lonely muddy river?

Physical Description: The Sunflower River is born in the bayous and lakes of Northern Coahoma County and meanders South some 250 miles through the Yazoo/Mississippi Delta paralleling the Mississippi River on the West and the Yazoo on the East, (with which it confluences with 10 miles above Vicksburg). A small but dynamic river, once forested, now mostly bordered by fields, the Sunflower is a rich habitat for all creatures native to the region, including black bear and panther. Its muddy current averages 2100 cfs (cubic feet per second) at Sunflower, 3461 at the mouth of Bogue Phalia, and approximately 4500 where it empties into the Yazoo River at Steele Bayou. Its drainage includes most or all of Coahoma, Bolivar, Sunflower, Washington, Sharkey & Issaquena Counties, some 3,689 square miles, inhabited by 169,150 people.

Cultural/Historical Mélange: In its journey through the Delta, the Sunflower winds through the layers of mud and history that gave the world its first great blues singer (Charlie Patton, Dockery Plantation), the first mechanized cotton picker (Hopson Plantation), its oldest African-American founded community (Mound Bayou), rural Civil Rights era leaders (Fanny Lou Hamer, Sunflower County; Aaron Henry, Clarksdale), the Teddy Bear (Delta National Forest), King of the Chicago Blues (Muddy Waters, born in Rolling Fork, lived 25 years at Stovall) and the renowned ambassador of the blues (B.B. King, Indianola). The Rev. C.L. Franklin (Aretha’s Father) is just one of many who were baptized in her muddy waters. Bessie Smith died at the G.T. Thomas Hospital which sits on her banks in Clarksdale (now the Riverside Hotel). Today you can hear live blues along the river at juke joints Red’s and Sarah’s Kitchen. Legendary woodsman, Holt Collier (1846-1936), who cornered the Teddy Bear, reported its waters to run clear & clean, and Roosevelt started each day of the hunt with a cold-water swim. One of our long-term objectives is to make the waters safe once again for fishing and swimming.

Friends of the Sunflower River

291 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, MS 38614