A Complete List of Events Planned for Natchez’s June 19 Celebrations – Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper
By MAIA BRONFMAN
NATCHEZ — Jarita Frasier-King, the orchestrator of Natchez’s June 19 celebrations, calls herself Chief Tinkerbell. Soul food, his specialty, is “taking what you have to design dishes,” Frasier King said.
She could also call herself a Tinkerbell entrepreneur, as she crafted a celebration complete with history, culture, food, local businesses and non-profit work with a bottomless garnish of mimosas.
Events will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday with a Unity Day celebration at the Natchez Bandstand on the Cliff.
A newly added event, “Barbecue, Blues and Brews,” will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday at the Natchez Heritage School of Cooking at 408 N Dr. MLK St.
Along with food and beer samples, the event “will provide a local taste of Natchez with the goal of driving business,” Frazier-King said. Proceeds from tickets will go to fundraising for the Southwest Wellness Association of Mississippi.
“There’s a need for well-educated people in the hospitality industry right now,” Frazier-King said of the nonprofit. Part of the money raised will be used to train people who will re-enter the job market after being incarcerated.
Other proceeds will go to wellness checks she does in the community for senior residents. During the COVID isolation, it has become clear that such checks are more widely needed, and not just by older people, she said.
“That contact is so important to everyone,” Frazier-King said of the community outreach project.
This year’s events are also supposed to be more family-oriented, with more opportunities for kids to get involved. From 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Alicia Faye Duncan hosts “Connecting History through Knowledge” at the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture at 301 Main St.
Duncan wrote her book “Opal Lee: The True Story of Juneteenth’s Grandma and What It Means to Be Free” to help young college students remember forgotten moments in American history.
Frazier-King not only welcomes children, but she hopes the event will attract people to visit the Natchez Museum of African American History who otherwise would not be exposed to its archives and exhibits.
The central celebration is at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the 500 block of Commerce Street. The Soul Food Fusion community hosts the annual White Linen Dinner and at around 7:30 p.m. there will be a Mocko Jumbie performance.
Hailing from West Africa, the Mocko Jumbie, considered the guardian of the people, is a traditional stilt walker and a popular figure at cultural events, parades and other festivities. The group N’Rhythm will also perform. The central table can accommodate 100 people at a time, although Frazier-King is hoping for more than 600 attendees.
With her community kitchen background and partnerships with a local restaurant, Frazier King plans delicious cultural cuisine and “lots of fun,” she said.
After dinner, there will be an after party at Rolling River Reloaded and another at 10 p.m. in Locust Alley at 515 Main St. Locust Alley is hosting AfroXotica, a nighttime dance class with NOLA choreographer Andrea Peoples. Live drummers and a DJ will accompany the class.
On Sunday mornings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the NAPAC Museum at 301 Main St. hosts the “Lazy Magnolia Brunch.” Chef Paul Alexander, a 98% blind pastry artist with the National Black Chef’s Association, hosts a live cake design session. Chef Rita, Frazier-King’s other title, will serve Caribbean cuisine with bottomless mimosas.
Tickets for all events are available on the Visit Natchez website.