When we first dreamed of a beautiful market in the woods filled with amazing people and music, we never thought that our dreams could be exceeded. Our very first Cotton Gin Market did just that – exceeded our wildest dreams!
We were so excited to have around 1,000 folks – that we now consider friends – stroll through our booming pines and shop with our 32 amazing local vendors that were scattered inside the Gin and out among those beautiful trees.
The Music of the Cotton Gin Market
Not only were we excited to see folks shop, but to also see them stop and listen to the talented musicians that played on the front porch of the Gin throughout the entire market. Every act was such a treat!
We couldn’t wait to have the Nashville husband/wife, guitar and cello duo, Honeyboy and Boots, play for us on Friday night! Drew Blackwell was born and raised a Mississippi boy and Courtney (originally from Washington state) is a Mississippian by marriage.
We were happy to welcome the touring band “home” and to be able to hear the magical sounds that they created; a perfect blend of folk and blues instrumental music and storytelling lyrics. Their song “Waitin’ On A Song” really shows off that perfect blend!
One of our favorite parts about Honeyboy and Boots coming to play at The Cotton Gin Market was getting to know their story. You know we’re all about that at Rasberry Greene! We loved hearing about how the couple met – since Courtney’s hometown is all the way across the country – and how they feel about our great state now that they no longer live here. Mississippi boy met Washington girl while they were both in college at Mississippi State University and their music swept them to Nashville.
“Even though we live in Nashville right now, our hearts are both in Mississippi. I love the culture, I love the history of the blues. Mississippi is a great state and a well-kept secret from the rest of the country,” says Drew.
After hearing their story, their love for Mississippi and their love for the art of storytelling, we are now even bigger fans of Honeyboy and Boots than we were before! We will be impatiently waiting for their third album to be released in 2016.
On Saturday we were serenaded by Joel Hill, JJ and Luke Campbell, Brad Moreland, and Oh, Jeremiah.
“Country music is about storytelling,” Brad Moreland, veteran performer of 20 years, said, “and I love sharing stories that are people’s favorites, especially if they’ve not heard them in years, and I also love introducing new ones.” For his performance at The Cotton Gin Market at Rasberry Greene, Brad’s repertoire spanned the catalogs of Buck Owens to Merle Haggard with a little John Denver sprinkled in.
Joel Hill and JJ and Luke Campbell were such a joy to listen to and added so much to the CGM experience. JJ even served double-duty as a market vendor! We’re so thankful to these sweet friends for adding so much to our little market in the woods.
Finally, we were honored to have the folk-favorite Oh, Jeremiah perform for us. This sweet duo consists of Laurel-native Jeremiah Stricklin and his fiance, Erin Raber. Jeremiah and Erin were such a joy to work with and a welcome addition to the already incredible music line-up. We talked a bit with Jeremiah before the event about the stories behind their songs and the unique challenge of representing our beloved state as they travel across the U.S.
“We travel a lot and I talk about being from Mississppi on stage every night. Mississippi is important to me because I learned a lot about no one taking you seriously as an artist, because no one takes you seriously as a Mississippian either. I learned really quickly that Mississippi is known for everything except what it is actually about.”
“I’ve brought it upon myself to be the Batman of Mississippi. I go out into the night and I tell people about Mississippi for what it actually it is. It is such a misunderstood and misrepresented place.”
“I love Mississippi so much because we’re exactly who we are.” – Jeremiah Stricklin
Oh, Jeremiah’s song “Mississippi, I’m Yours” perfectly illustrates the special relationship all of us native Mississippian’s have with the home we love so much.
An amazing experience, and the value of a servant’s heart
My parents would have loved to have seen and met all of the musicians, people, and families that came out. With all of the kids running around with their faces painted by the wonderful workers of the MSU Wesley Foundation members, their hearts would have melted.
The MSU Wesley Foundation was a big reason as to why the Cotton Gin Market even came into existence. Cherri Lightsey, from the board of MSU Wesley, approached us about a fun and unique way to raise money for their student ministry. She traveled to several “barn sales” around Tennessee and we thought this could be a fun trend to start in South Mississippi.
And boy was it! With the incredible, servant-hearted workforce of Cherri, Anna Hood, Fred Tyner, and Tim and Dana Chamblee and all the students that were so willing to help where ever needed, the market went off beautifully.
“Friendliest staff and best servants’ hearts of any event we’ve ever been to.”
– Sweet Daddy’s Kettle Corn (food vendor)
“The hospitality was better than I’ve experienced at any other show!”
– Rusty Birds (vendor)
“The facilities and staff were perfect! Everything was so nice, thank you for everything you did! May the Lord bless you all and this fabulous place!”
– Buncha Raggamuffins (vendor)
A Greater Purpose
The Cotton Gin Market was a joint effort to provide a fun, family experience for the folks in our area, showcase Mississippi and regional artisans, craftspersons, restauranteurs/specialty foods and musicians, and support the ministry of the MSU Wesley Foundation.
It really exceeded the dreams of our organizers and we can’t wait to do it again! After all was said and done, we were able to donate $1,700 to the Wesley Foundation! We couldn’t have been happier to donate The Gin and the grounds of Rasberry Greene to help support such a great cause.
2016 Cotton Gin Market at Rasberry Greene
Be on the lookout for the 2nd Annual Cotton Gin Market in Fall 2016! We can’t say enough about how happy we were with our first market. We want to see it continue to grow in the years to come. We hope to keep the same wonderful vendors and musicians we had this year, but we hope to see even more local artisans and musicians next year! We have plenty of room out here in Soso, MS, and we’re ready to show folks just what it’s like out here in our neck of the woods.