Get ready to shop, eat and be merry when the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation (1302 Adams St.) holds its 12th annual Holly Days Arts and Crafts Show, Saturday, Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“This is a great start to the holiday season for anyone, and we do it every year,” said SCHF Director Stacey Massey. “We’ll have different churches singing, dance groups performing and much more.”
Admission is $2 and folks will be able to see several performers and enjoy the company of other art lovers, as well. Live entertainment will include the Church of the Holy Trinity Conservatory of Fine Arts, Jeanne Evans Music Students, Denise Ragsdale Music Students, Debra Franco Preparatory School of Dance, St. Aloysius Show Choir and Elite 6 Band.
There will also be an army of vendors, including Billy’s Italian Restaurant.
“There are some very special vendors coming out this year, and a lot of them are from Mississippi, but one is from Arkansas,” Massey said. “They’ll be selling everything from art pieces to jewelry, and we’ll even have Billy’s selling lunch plates. We’ll also be selling baked goods.”
“People just keep coming,” she said. “This is a great event for a great cause, and I hope we continue to grow each year.”
15th annual Christmas Caroling Contest pulls in a crowd
Area choirs performed to a packed house Saturday night at the final evening of Vicksburg’s 15th Annual Christmas Caroling Contest.
The event was hosted by the Vicksburg Convention Center and sponsored by V105.5 FM radio, who awarded $10,000 to winners, finalists and choir directors.
Congratulations to the winners and finalists.
Division One: Upper Teen Soloists
Winner: Gavin Standish
Finalists: Genevieve Moore, Nathan Mosley, Snowden Trio and Radyn Horton
Division 2: Tweens and Young Soloists
Winner: Anna Kate Humphries
Finalists: Ella Claire Gregory, Alissa Bordelon and Audrey Holt
Divison 3: Adult Groups
Winner: Jingle Belles
Division 4: Lower Elementary Choirs
Winner: Redwood Holiday Choir
Finalists: Sherman Avenue first grade, Sherman Avenue second grade, and South Park Elementary first grade
Division 5 Upper Elementary Choirs:
Winner: Redwood Honor Choir
Finalists: South Park Elementary fifth and six grades, Warrenton Elementary, Vicksburg Intermediate Vocalizers and Agape Montessori Christian School
Division 6 Junior High Choirs
Winner: Sumner Hill Junior High Mixed Ensemble
Finalists: AOI Southern Synergy and AOI Innovation Choir
‘Are you dreaming, Artie?’ The story of the Balfour’s Christmas Ball
Do you remember the scene in “Gone with the Wind” when Miss Scarlett and Rhett Butler danced the Virginia Reel?
Folks will be doing the same thing Saturday night, Dec. 14, at the Old Court House Museum during the annual re-enactment of the Balfour Ball. (See details below.)
The original ball took place in December 1862 and was hosted by Dr. and Mrs. William T Balfour for Confederate officers, their ladies and other friends. The well-documented event reads like a dramatic script from a novel.
Lee Daniels recalled the events in writing for Gen. Stephen Dill Lee in 1904.
The story begins on the Mississippi riverbank, south of Lake Providence, La.
“I hears a boat coming,” an excited little girl told the two Confederate officers who sat in a shanty playing cards on Christmas Eve, 1862.
She insisted that the men, Maj. E.P. Earnhart and Maj. Lee Daniels, come outside and listen.
“Are you dreaming, Artie?” one of them asked.
“No, sah! I hears it say choo, choo, pat, pat,” the excited child replied, mimicking the sound of steam engines and the slapping of paddle wheels against the water.
Earnhart and Daniels walked to the porch of the little building, which was located on Horace Tibbots’ plantation about 11 miles south of Lake Providence. Listening intently, they could barely hear the sounds Artie had described, but they could discern something. They went to the riverbank where they waited about 30 minutes.
They could hear the sounds that were getting closer and closer, and eventually, “a monster turned the bend, two miles above us, and came slowly as if feeling the way,” Daniels wrote.
And then Earnhart whispered, “Here comes another.”
Some sparks flew out of Earnhart’s pipe and Daniels grabbed it and put out the tobacco, warning that those boats would fire a volley at the crack of a match.
Soon, the “large black devil was abreast of us, in easy gun shot from our double barrels, but suicide to fire. We counted, counted, counted in all seven gunboats, fifty-nine transports loaded with blue coats,” Daniels continued.
The night was cloudy, cold, and there was a drizzling rain. The two men waited until they were sure no more boats were in the flotilla, and then Daniels, who had been a telegraph operator in Vicksburg before the war, jumped on his little bay filly and practically flew to the telegraph offices, some three miles back in the woods, where he sent a message to the other end of the line.
Daniels was frantic. He knew that if he didn’t get the message through, unsuspecting Vicksburg would fall to the enemy. It took only 27 seconds to transmit the words, but to Daniels, it seemed that his friend on the other end would never answer.
Col. Philip H. Fall, also from Vicksburg, was on duty at the telegraph on DeSoto point, across the river from Vicksburg, when the message came through.
“Golly, old fellow, what’s up?” Fall answered when he got the first signal.
Almost half a century later, Daniels recalled the message, which he said was indelible in his brain after all those years:
“Great God, Phil, where have you been? I have been calling, (am I afraid I said half an hour instead of half a minute), and the river is lined with boats, almost a hundred have passed my lookout. Seven gunboats and fifty-nine transports chock full of men. God speed you, rush across and give the alarm.”
Fall tapped a reply. “God bless you, Lee, bye, bye we may never meet again.”
Almost immediately, Fall was in a small skiff headed across the river to Vicksburg. It was a tempestuous night, and at times, it appeared the waves on the river would extinguish the colonel’s red lantern, which signaled the men who manned the batteries along the bluffs that he was a friend, not a foe. Had the light gone out, Fall might have been killed.
Despite the possibility of death, he was determined to make the crossing, for the city was in peril. Had the message not been sent when it was, the city probably would have been taken, for only a short time later, the enemy cut the telegraph wires.
The citizens of Vicksburg and the Confederate officers and men were completely oblivious to what was happening.
At the home of the Balfours on Crawford Street, the house was ablaze with lights, and the sounds of music and laughter filled the cold night air.
Suddenly, the door burst open, and a gray-clad courier, disheveled and muddy, pushed his way through the crowd calling for Gen. M.L. Smith, commander of the Confederate forces in Vicksburg. The crowd gave him a wide berth.
Facing the general, the courier breathlessly gave him the news: A flotilla of gunboats and transports had passed Lake Providence, headed toward Vicksburg.
The music had stopped, and in a loud voice, Smith exclaimed: “This ball is at an end. The enemy is coming down river. All noncombatants must leave the city.”
Then, the general turned to Fall, thanked him for the message and apologized for his harsh manner.
Immediately, men reported to their stations. By the end of the week, the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou—north of town where 6,000 Southern boys soundly whipped Gen. W.T. Sherman’s 32,000 Union troops—was history. It was the first time Sherman had held an independent command Here he learned what he later proclaimed: “War is hell.”
The story might have ended differently had not an idle slave girl first sounded the alarm that broke up the ball.
The annual re-enactment of the Balfour Ball, now called the The Old Court House Confederate Christmas Ball, is Dec. 14 at the Old Court House Museum.
The event will take place in the courtroom from 7 to 9 p.m. There will be live music of the period, Christmas decorations, food and beverages. Advance ticket purchases are required and are $30 per person, available at the museum.
Though some will attend in period costume, other will be in their “Sunday best.” Ball gowns and tuxes are available to rent from the museum.
The event is a fundraiser for the Old Court House Museum. Call 601-363-0741 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to purchase tickets.
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