• Carey Meitzler

Piney Woods Festival had a little bit of everything


For years, I've wanted to go to the Piney Woods Festival held annually at the Crosby Arboretum, but there always seemed to be something on my calendar that prevented me from being able to attend. This year, when I heard the date, I blocked it off and planned well in advanced to attend. What a smart move. Okay, a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while.

My wife (Michelle) and I arrived around at the Arboretum around 10:30am and both commented that we couldn't have asked for better weather. There were quite a few folks already there (it opened at 10:00am) and everyone was just strolling, stopping, and talking with the experts at each tent.

During our time at the festival (approximately 3 hours and some change), we encountered a staff of people, mostly volunteers, who made it their priority to make sure we got all your questions answered.

We also spoke with a lot of people that, like us, who were just out enjoying the beauty of the Arboretum while letting their minds and thoughts go back in time to yesteryear. The butter churning brought back a lot of memories for me of growing up churning our own butter in Nicholson. The beekeeping was interesting for two reasons: my dad kept bees when I was young and two of Michelle's brothers have joined the beekeeping ranks in the past few years.

We saw a lot of our friends and even some relatives on the grounds, like us, taking it all in. We came upon my good friend Mark Stockstill and his son Ethan (age 10), who had engaged in what was one of the neatest things I've seen in sometime. Ethan was to become the recipient of a hatchet that was being forged, shaped, fine tuned, and ready for a handle right before his eyes. I found out Mark was a regular.

"I think this is our third year in a row to come out for the Heritage Festival. We enjoy it because it allows us to stay in touch with our past. Ethan and I enjoy the chance to make memories," Mark shared.

As for the hatchet being made for Ethan (pictured above), Mark added, "The workmanship is as fine as anything you'll see or get anywhere, plus watching the care of the blacksmith, makes it special."

Mark also talked about while it is important for the area to continue to find ways to bring more economic growth this area, he made a very valid point about the ground we stood on.

"Carey, I think people, me included, forget about all the great things we have like the Arboretum and the great events that we have to offer people around here. The quality of life in Picayune and the surrounding area is in itself a marketing tool," Mark said.

When it was time to eat, we had some good ol' brisket sandwiches served up by Lou's Sho Nuff BBQ & Catering and also had a bag of fresh, hot kettle corn from one of the vendors at the festival. Both were excellent

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It was during our lunch. at one of the picnic tables underneath the vast cover of pine trees, that we came in contact with Chuck and Lola Heyer from Long Beach, MS. They had heard about the festival and decided to come check it out.

"We are retired and take in a lot of festivals that are within driving distance. This one is so nice, so neat, and so informing. We've been to Picayune for Street Fairs and to Poplarville for the Blueberry Festival. This is another one we will be back for again for sure," Chuck said.

Lola added, "While we live on the coast, I must say Picayune and Pearl River County have a lot of neat things to do."

Michelle quickly told them Picayune was a certified retirement community. She talked about the recently completed Crosby Commons park, and the upcoming Christmas on the Rails on December 1st. When we finished our lunch and conversation, Chuck said "I guess we'll see you on the 1st."

I will not attempt to try to explain everything we saw, heard, and learned...too much to put in words and I'm not sure I would do it justice. I'll simply say this....mark your calendar for next year and do like we did before we left.

We joined the Arboretum.

For forty-five dollars ($45.00), you can purchase a family membership that allows you to attend any event or come to Arboretum anytime it's open and enjoy the splendor of this great place right here in our own backyard. Can't beat that with a stick or even a pine tree.


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