A Day in the Delta

The workshop with Taylor Bowen Ricketts and crew outside Delta Bistro in Greenwood, MS.

The SFA Oral Workshop ventured to the Mississippi Delta yesterday to collect fieldwork in Greenwood. We started early, piling into two vans and passing the rolling green fields through heavy rain. For most of the participants, this was a first trip to the Delta.

Our first stop was Leann Hines’s farm in Greenwood. Leann spoke about her family and the history of her farm. She read letters from her father and shared photographs. We toured her farm, saw her chickens, and learned about all the vegetables she’s growing (and learned about the beauty of eating sweet potato leaves).

Simi Kong photographs Leann Hines as she talks about her family.
Leann Hines holds up a family photograph for workshop participant Simi Kang.

By the time we arrived at Spooney’s Bar-Be-Que in Baptist Town to interview Leroy Spooney Ketner, the rain stopped. We visited with Spooney over barbecued chicken and corn on the cob he prepared. Just before Spooney’s interview, DeVante Wiley stopped by (he already had breakfast at Spooney’s), and in perfect unpredictable fieldwork form the workshop then interviewed DeVante about the community farm he started a few blocks away from Spooney’s.

Kari Mugo interviews Spooney Kenter with help from Amy Evans.
Kari Mugo interviews Spooney Kenter with help from Amy Evans.

The next stop was Hoover’s Store, owned by Sylvester and Mary Hoover of Baptist Town. The Hoovers warmly welcomed us as we gathered around the counter to listen to them talk about the history of the neighborhood and how it’s changed over the years. Sylvester then walked us next door to Back in the Day Museum where he spoke openly about race relations in Greenwood and his own family history.

Sylvester and Mary Hoover of Hoover Store in Baptist Town, MS talks about the history of the neighborhood and their store.
Sylvester and Mary Hoover of Hoover’s Store in Baptist Town, MS.

Next, we piled out of the vans in Downtown Greenwood at Delta Bistro to interview owner Taylor Bowen Ricketts. We admired some of her art hanging in her restaurant before sharing the amazing family-style meal that included pimento cheese risotto, fried green tomatoes, fried alligator and goat cheese, and Comeback Sauce. The workshop then squeezed itself into her kitchen for her interview. (See the photo above for the post-meal, post-interview group photo.)

Check back in here later when we’ll be posting a timeline of all experiences in the field.