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In addition to storms and occasional equipment failure, each year brings a surprise or two. In 1998, Huckabee, a Baptist minister, married a couple on the main stage a year after they had met at the previous year’s festival. During another festival, a strong wind knocked over a huge inflated Budweiser can next to the main stage, which organizers repaired as thousands watched. In 1996, Luther Allison continued playing as he left the main stage and meandered up and down the levee, wirelessly amplifying his guitar licks while photographers snapped pictures and the crowd went wild.
The festival attracts people from all walks of life. Despite changes in the music and the occasional non-traditional sound, as Payne once said, “Sooner or later they all come back to it.”
Koon, David. “Fighting over a ‘Biscuit.’” Arkansas Times, February 23, 2006.
Rotenstein, David S. “The Helena Blues: Cultural Tourism and African-American Folk Music.” Southern Folklore 49 (Summer 1992): 133–146.
Webb, Robert Fry. “We Are the Blues: Individual and Communal Performances of the King Biscuit Tradition.” PhD diss., Florida State University, 2010.
Richard Allen BurnsArkansas State University
Last Updated 9/4/2013
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