The Cleveland Current
On Oct. 12 and 13, one of the Delta’s best outdoor festivals will take place in downtown Cleveland as OctoberFest will celebrate it’s 30th anniversary.
At 6 p.m. Oct. 12, downtown Cleveland will become fragrant with the smell of some of the finest smoked pork in the region as the annual festival kicks off with the lighting of the ceremonial grill, as well as an unveiling of a mosaic pig by the Cleveland Junior Auxiliary with support from the Crosstie Arts Council.
The pig commemorates the 30th anniversary of Octoberfest, and will have a permanent home downtown for all to enjoy.
OctoberFest will feature barbecue cooking teams come from all over the country to participate in the competition. The contest has been declared as the Mississippi Delta State Barbecue Championship, and the winners will be announced on Saturday.
The festival will also kick off that Friday night with three rock bands playing under the stars in downtown Cleveland.
At 6:30 p.m., Red Skyye Levee will usher in the evening with their music. Then, the star attraction of the event will feature Ted Nugent singer and solo artist, Derek St. Holmes.
Delta favorites, The Players will close the evening.
In the early ’70s, Ted Nugent first became aware of St. Holmes’ band, “Scott”, as he opened a show for Nugent’s old band the Amboy Dukes at the Lincoln Park Theater in Chicago.
When the Amboy Dukes disbanded, Nugent was looking for a lead singer to give a new band he was assembling the sound that would catapult him to stardom.
St. Holmes was hired and the band of Ted Nugent with Derek St. Holmes as the lead singer was launched.
Nugent’s new band immediately embarked on an extensive U.S. tour. Traveling and performing nearly 300 days a year, they played with other popular bands, such as Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynard and Black Sabbath. The 1984 documentary “This is Spinal Tap” features a lead vocalist named “David St. Hubbins,” whose name came from St. Holmes.
If you have ever heard Nugent’s main songs and hits, that is St. Holmes singing them, most notably Nugent’s signature song, “Stranglehold”.
Oct. 12 will be St. Holmes second trip to the Delta this year. In March, St. Holmes spent three days here visiting Ground Zero Blues Club and the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, the B.B. King Museum in Indianola and Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville.
While in the Delta, St. Holmes stayed in Cleveland and saw many of Bolivar County’s sites and sounds. “I have always been a blues fan and coming down and playing in the Delta where the blues originates is very exciting to me,” said St. Holmes.
St. Holmes will begin performing around 8 p.m.
As the smoke settles from Friday night’s activities, Saturday’s events bring a good time downtown for all ages. Entertainment for Saturday will include performances from the Delta Music Institute bands, Ol Skool Revue and Delta Rocks. One of the country’s top bluegrass bands, The New York City Slickers, from New York, will also perform as will Number 3 and The Joe Garcia Band.
Saturday will also feature children’s activities such as face painting, a rock wall, inflatables, train rides, and other fun entertainment.
Perhaps the most anticipated event for the children, however, is the chance to see their school principals kiss a live pig as part of a fundraiser for the schools.
Artisans will line the sidewalk downtown, showing off their crafts and selling their goods.
Octoberfest attendees will also find a grand assortment of refreshments along the line of concessions. Whether one is looking for a cold coke to wash down a fully dressed bratwurst, or a warm funnel cake to top off a plate of barbecue, this will be the place to find it.
“We’re looking forward to celebrating our 30th anniversary of the festival and our 25th for the barbecue contest,” said Judson Thigpen, executive director of Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of festivals fizzle out over the years, but we have seen growth, and that’s what we want???to see people out and enjoying the downtown festivities.”
Octoberfest draws over 15,000 people to downtown Cleveland each year. This year will be no different and is sure to be some not want to miss fun.