{Bride}  Christina Cribb 
{Groom} Brian Havard
{Hometowns} Bride: Port Gibson, MS, Groom: Lucedale, MS
{Wedding Site} Fondren Church, Jackson, MS
{Reception Site} The South Warehouse, Jackson, MS
{Bride’s Bouquet} White roses
{Bridesmaid Bouquets} White roses and white hydrangeas

{How did the two of you meet?} Brian had been living in Jackson for a little bit, and was involved in a young professionals ministry, Static, through First Baptist Church Jackson. Christina had been in Jackson for a few years, and was finishing up college at Belhaven College, about to head to graduate school at Reformed Theological Seminary. Christina’s friend, Shruti, who was also involved with Static, would invite Christina to events and functions frequently, and Christina would usually say no. On January 8, 2009, Shruti invited Christina to a National Championship party, but Christina didn’t want to go, but Shruti convinced her. Christina worked at a local gym, and came to the party when she got off. She arrived with a 5 flavored pound cake (because her mama taught her you can’t go to someone’s house empty handed!), and when she got to the party, the only seat available was next to the only person in the room she didn’t know. That person was Brian. They started talking, and immediately hit it off. Christina’s family is from Italy, and Brian had just been to Italy, and drew Christina a picture of his recent travels. Neither remembers who played or won that game. When it was time to go, Christina wanted to give Brian a hug, but he wasn’t going to be so easy! We left without exchanging numbers, but began immediately communicating through Facebook J

{What is your proposal story?} Preface: We both really love being outside and exploring. We had driven up the Trace one weekend, and stopped at the Cypress Swamp. During the walk, Christina mentioned to Brian how beautiful the place was, and that once they got engaged, she wanted to come back out here and take some engagement photos. Christina is a very scheduled and planned person, and we have our routine. And on Wednesday nights, we go to worship at our church, Pinelake. On May 4, 2016, a Wednesday, Brian showed up at Christina’s office after work, and he was wearing a suit, which was way out of the norm and off schedule. Christina immediately knew something was up. He asked if she wanted to go for a drive. She of course said yes. As they were driving, they were talking about their days, just like they normally would. He stopped at the Cypress Swamp, and asked if Christina wanted to go for a walk. She said yes again. About halfway down the boardwalk, he turned to Christina, and said the most beautiful, sweet things, of which she remembers none of. Christina is a crier, but she held it together, and was just so happy! When he was finished talking, he got down on one knee, and told Christina he wanted her to close her eyes for the ring. As soon as she felt the ring slip on her finger, she lost it. When she opened her eyes, she saw the most gorgeous ring, that she couldn’t have picked out any better! She had never tried on or picked out any rings; Brian did this all on his own. We spent the next 30 minutes together, walking through the woods, and just being giddy. We then sat in the parking lot of the Cypress Swamp, and Facetimed our family and friends to tell them the good news! We had a celebratory meal at Seafood Revolution.

{What inspired your wedding and reception locations?} Christina has always loved Wendy Putt, and has dreamed about having her reception at The South for years. It is so gorgeous and rustic, and right up her alley. That was the first thing we booked, the day after we got engaged. The church was a little bit more difficult. We love our church, but it was bigger than what we wanted for our wedding, and was too far from the reception venue. We knew we wanted to get married in a church, and one that was close to our reception venue. Fondren Church was perfect for several reasons. One, it is one of our church’s plants, so it felt like our sister church. Secondly, as soon as we stepped inside and saw the beams in the ceiling and the stained glass, we knew. And last but not least, Laura McAlpin, the church director for weddings was just the best. So easy to talk to, and was just a breeze to work with!

{What inspired your color scheme/theme/flowers?} Christina is not a “color” girl. Her wardrobe has a lot of black, grey, white, etc. She knew she didn’t want a lot of bright colors in the wedding, both with décor, and flowers. She loves the rustic theme, which is why the South fit so perfectly. She gave Wendy Putt free reign, and Wendy created the most beautiful fairy tale!

{How did you pick “the dress?”} Christina and Brian didn’t want a long engagement (they dated for 7.5 years afterall!), so Christina knew she had to get to planning and shopping pretty quickly. The weekend after the engagement, Christina took her mom and best friend down to Brookhaven to Imagination’s. She knew what sort of dress she DIDN’T want, and had a few guidelines for what she did want. The associates at Imaginations were so helpful, and pulled exactly the dresses she was looking for. The first dress she tried on, she cried, and didn’t know if it was because she loved the dress, or if it was because she was just so overwhelmed. She found bits and pieces she liked from several dresses, and wanted to combine those into one dress: lace, a little bling, sleeves, and a gorgeous back. Her best friend actually found “the dress” on the rack. As soon as Christina put it on, everyone knew that was the one. Funny thing is, every other dress fit like a glove. This perfect dress was 3 sizes too small, and we still just knew!

{What’s your favorite unique accessory? Is there a story behind it?} I had several favorites. My best friend and matron of honor showed up on the wedding day with her diamond tennis bracelet for me to wear, which was a complete surprise. Secondly, my cousin allowed me to borrow my deceased grandmother’s ring, to wear on my first finger. My bouquet was wrapped in one of my deceased grandfather’s handkerchiefs, and the ring bearer was to carry my other deceased grandfather’s Bible, instead of a pillow. Finally, an aunt allowed me to borrow a silver dime to put in my shoe. The old saying was originally “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in your shoe”. We didn’t have a sixpence, so the dime was the next best thing, and originally belonged to my grandfather, so it was super special!

{What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process?} It was all really fun. I didn’t feel stressed at all. Kendall and all of the vendors we worked with were such a dream. Kendall thought of every detail, and made sure I was completely happy. Brian said his favorite part was cake tasting! I loved giving free reign to the vendors, and just watching them do their creative thing!

{Besides the actual wedding, what was your favorite moment of the wedding day?} All of the bridesmaids, and all of Christina’s aunts gathered at her mom’s house for “Pancakes in Pajamas” before the day started. It was so much fun to start the day being relaxed, and with my best people! I also really loved the first look and letter exchange. It was just tender and sweet, and kicked off the ceremony so perfectly.

{What was your favorite surprise detail/moment about your wedding day?} It was all the biggest surprise, especially since I didn’t necessarily have a “vision”. I really trusted our vendors, and felt like we had picked a dream team. They were all so creative and kind, and just blew me away with their work. I was literally breath-taken when I walked into the sanctuary, and then again when we walked into the South. Both were the most beautiful things I had ever laid my eyeballs on. I had no idea the magic of lighting, and was so overwhelmed with how much it transformed the space. Kendall told me repeatedly during planning “you won’t fully get it until you see it”. And she was right. And it was perfect. My other favorite moment was worshipping with our friends and family in our ceremony, and finally being pronounced husband and wife!

{Your favorite picture from the big day?} Our Veil picture.

{The picture that represents the two of you best?}  Our Cross picture.

VENDORS:

Photographer: Followell Fotography
Event Planner: Kendall Poole Event Planning
Dress: Imaginations Bridal
Bride’s Jewelry: Albriton’s Jewelry, Inc.
Hair & Makeup: Molly Gee Designs
Bridesmaid Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids
Tuxes: Tuxes Too
Videographer: BGP Productions
Venue: Fondren Church and The South Warehouse
Lighting: Davaine Lighting
Rentals: Fresh Cut Catering & Floral
Florist: Fresh Cut Catering & Floral
Catering: Fresh Cut Catering & Floral
Band: The Jason Stogner Band
Bride’s Cake: Cakes by Iris
Groom’s Cake: Cakes by Iris
Print Material: Emily Ferguson for Designs by KPEP
Car Service: Groom’s dad’s Corvette

 
 
It is no secret that Broad Street Baking Company and Cafe makes the tastiest King Cakes in Mississippi.  Jen Adelsheimer, Pastry Chef at Broad Street, recently took her incredibly talented team and their delectable King Cakes to New Orleans, competing in the ultimate King Cake Festival.  "We had a blast!  It was so funny because they were all scared that we were from Mississippi!" smiles Adelsheimer.  "But when they tried our King Cake they were amazed that Mississippi was capable of making such a delicious King Cake!"

On January 29th, 2017, over 15,000 people gathered in Champion Square in New Orleans, tasting King Cakes and raising money for Ochsner Hospital for Children.  Broad Street's delicious King Cakes blew everyone away.  "We didn't win, but we had a blast and got our name out there," says Adelsheimer.  

Broad Street's King Cakes and cookies are especially delicious because they are made with one unique ingredient: local milk.  "We get fresh milk delivered three times a week!  All the way for Rolling Fork, Mississippi - Kin Growers Family Farm!  they are an amazing family and go out of their way to deliver fresh milk to our local restaurants and homes."

We have no doubt New Orleans fell in love with Broad Street's King Cakes!  Pick yours up this week before we kiss Mardi Gras goodbye!  Congratulations to Broad Street on participating in the 4th annual King Cake Festival!  
Photographs courtesy of Jeff Good of Mangia Bene, Inc. Restaurant Management Group 
 
 
Elisha Roberts has an innate passion for giving.  "When I was younger, my mom helped me start a Christmas Gift savings account.  I saved money all year and I was so excited to go shopping for gifts for my family.  I loved it so much, I went from giving gifts to my family to doing it for strangers," reflects Roberts.  "When my daughter, Layla, was old enough to walk, I thought it was a cute idea to dress her in a Santa suit, give her envelopes filled with cash, and have her give them to random people."

During one trip to mall, Layla handed an envelope to a woman.  "She was about to give it back, but I said, 'No, she is your secret Santa.'  The lady began crying and looked into her envelope, filled with $100," says Roberts.  "Even I was struggling as a single parent at that time."  Amazingly, the woman gave Roberts the $100 back, and added another $100 on top of that.  "It felt so good to give it to her, and the feeling of receiving was a different feeling.  So now I know the gift of giving and receiving.  When you actually need, receiving is such a big blessing.  I wanted others to experience that same feeling."

Roberts and her fiance, Dr. Justin Turner, created 4EverCaring, a non-profit based in Jackson, in late 2016.  4EverCaring meets the needs of those who are less fortunate.  Whether they need help paying a few bills, or need help understanding financial responsibility, 4EverCaring is here to help.  Roberts and Turner recently held a "Who's Your Santa" Christmas Benefit Ball, centered around the beautiful gift of giving.  "I chose ten families and went and interviewed them.  We focused on what they needed, not what they wanted.  I passed each list to a Secret Santa, who each had a team of 10 people.  Each team raised money however they could creatively, and they were able to bless each of these families."  Over 40 people were truly blessed that evening.  The families had the opportunity to meet their Secret Santa and thank them for their incredible gifts.  

2017 promises to be a wonderful year as well.  "We will have the Ball again this year, but we want to do something for the community for back-to-school as well," smiles Roberts.  "We want to bless the community with school supplies and uniforms for at least four families."

Roberts daughter, Layla, is now 7-years-old, and has received the giving spirit from her mother.  "She has been able to see the impact of giving to others, and to hear her talk about our non-profit and the Christmas Ball is incredible.  She was watching and took it all in.  That was the best feeling ever; knowing she understood the beauty of giving." 
Elisha Roberts and Dr. Justin Turner
Secret Santas at the Ball 
Wesley Armstrong, Justin Turner's brother.  Armstrong came up with the name 4EverCaring 
Elisha Roberts and her daughter, Layla
Elisha, thank you for sharing your giving spirit with Mississippi!  For more information on 4EverCaring, please visit their Facebook page here
 
 
Blake Belcher Photography recently captured Lee Gabardi and Emily Cutrer's romantic proposal in the heart of the Grove.  We are thrilled to share these beautiful moments today and hear more from the bride-to-be!

how we met: "i was working at a marketing agency in jackson, ms back in september 2014. my boss, beth, was best friends with lee’s mom, ellen. one day beth asked me if i would want to go on a blind date with this guy named lee. all i knew was that he went to ole miss, worked at a bank and lived in jackson. i agreed to meet him and go on my first blind date ever.

on september 11th, lee came to meet at my office in fondren for our date. we were having a wine tasting at work and everyone in the office of course knew that i was having my blind date that night - poor guy had to walk in front of all my coworkers ;). after we were introduced to each other by beth, we went to dinner. when i left the date, i called my mom and told her that he “couldn’t have been more of a gentlemen.” i remember loving that he was tall, handsome, was familiar with the coast (where i am from) and very genuine."

engagement: "a little over two years later, he proposed to me on january 21, 2017 on the ole miss campus. i thought we were going to oxford for the weekend to attend a ceremony for his dad. little did i know that both of our families were camping out in oxford for the weekend too (there was no ceremony ;)). it was the most special weekend in oxford - we got engaged around 11 saturday morning then spent the rest of the weekend sharing hugs, having happy laughs, eating yummy food around town and enjoying our families that will soon become one."
Thank you, Blake Belcher Photography, for capturing these photographs and for letting us share them today!  

Today we are thrilled to leave you with a sweet poem about Emily and Lee's engagement, written by Lee's mother, Ellen Gabardi:

She stopped to find
a boy’s name
on a brick
Instead
she found a boy
on his knee
on a brick
with his name
saying
Will you marry me?

A girl
A boy
A sparkly ring
hidden in a box
in a pocket

And an invitation
of a Lifetime
for a Lifetime

A kiss of Yes.
A hug of Yes.

Mamas and Daddies
and Sisters and Brothers
whooping with joy

Champagne glasses
bubbling with joy

Mardi Gras
GabardiGras
beads
swinging with joy

The Lyceum,
as silent witness
of much history,
as silent witness
of this moment,
couldn’t help but 
squeal
a
squeal
of pure delight

of pure joy.
 
 
Great lighting can turn a wedding or event into something magical and extraordinary.  Davaine Lighting, Mississippi's premier event lighting company, proudly showcases their lighting expertise in this dramatic photoshoot!
VENDORS:

Venue:  Mississippi Museum of Art
Photographer:  Adam + Alli Photography
Jewelry:  Albriton's Jewelry
Dresses & Veils:  Willow Bride
Florals:  Blooms a Garden Shop
Lighting:  Davaine Lighting 
 
 
“Terry ‘Harmonica’ Bean…He is a one-man band bluesman.  He plays the guitar and the harmonica, he has the blues voice and uses his feet.  He is the real deal,” smiles Roger Stolle of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art.

Watching Bean perform is an unforgettable experience.  The way he pops his guitar, fiercely plays the harmonica and taps his feet perfectly on beat.  Soul stirring, rich vocals pour out of him, and his subtle smile reflects his passion for the Mississippi blues.

A deep-rooted passion that was evident at a young age.  A lifelong resident of Pontotoc, Bean was born in January of 1961.  He grew up with seventeen brothers, six sisters, five step-mothers and four step-fathers.  A love for the blues runs deep in his blood. “I play the real deal blues,” he smiles.  “It ain’t taught in no book.  You gotta be born around this stuff.  I learned from my father, my grandfather and my father’s friends.”   Out of twenty-four children, he is the only one still playing the blues.

"This is how I got my start…I played on street corners for seven or eight years for absolutely nothing. I took my harmonica around in a paper bag back then,” remembers Bean.  “Sometimes you have to do things for nothing in order to get something. I'm learning by listening.  And now I'm sharing the blues with people around the world.”

Bean plays as a solo artist and also performs with the Terry Harmonica Bean Blues Band.  He dazzles crowds in juke joints, at blues festivals across the country and venues around the globe.  Bean is not only talented, but his sound is exceptionally unique.

“A lot of people want to give the Delta all the credit for the blues, simply because of the talent from the Delta.  B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Charley Patton. But honey, let me tell you, just as many bluesmen are from the Hill country,” Bean smiles.  “None of these guys were professionals, but the blues were alive up there.  The Delta had one sound and the northeast people had another.  The Delta musicians played laid-back blues, but the Hill country guys had a chopping, energetic sound.”

Bean is determined to keep his beloved style of blues buzzing.  “The blues will never die.  There will always be someone playing the blues.  That’s what’s amazing about it.  The blues are so powerful and it always comes back to Mississippi,” he says.  “My grandfather and so many other men could have been blues legends.  I do this for them.  I am always representing Mississippi.”

{Photography by Lou Bopp and Article by Mitchell Ammons Walters}
 
 
{Name}  Laurel Donahoo
{Hometown}  Madison, MS
{Event Site} The Donahoo House! in Madison
{Tell us about the occasion for the event?} 
My little boy Wilson turned two years old!

{What inspired your event location and theme?}
We chose our home as the venue since it’s easy for me to slowly decorate throughout the days leading up to the party! And the theme was actually picked by Wilson! We printed out six different pictures of six things he is “into” and taped them to the wall, then we let him into the room and let him pick his favorite of the six! The one he picked was a picture of his favorite stuffed animal, his lion Mr. Roarsly, so our theme was LION! 

{What inspired your color scheme/flowers?}
I ended up hand drawing an art deco-y lion for the invitation after deciding that I wanted to take the theme a tad past just “lion” to “Roaring Twos!” The colors I went with on the lion dictated the color theme for the partay! 

{What’s your favorite event detail? Is there a story behind it?}
I ended up really loving the balloon canopy that we hung on the ceiling of the room that was our main party room! I purchased a bunch of larger round balloons online knowing I wanted to use them to decorate somehow. Once we had all the balloons blown up, the idea came to us to string them up and hang them from the ceiling! It made a pretty cool statement! And now they are hanging in Wilson’s room from his ceiling!

{What was your favorite part of the event planning process?}
I loved getting the food and drink together and labeling everything with little tags made using the same lion that was on the invitation! I like detailing a party, so all of that was especially fun for me :) 

{What was your favorite moment of the event day?}
It was definitely after cake was eaten and presents were open, when everyone was just hanging out! Wilson had so much fun playing with his sweet cousins and visiting with his aunts, uncles, and grandparents. We are so blessed with incredible family, so getting to spend quality time with both sides together is always a highlight!  

{Your favorite picture from the event day?}
I love the picture of Wilson stuffing a piece of cake into his mouth! Forget the fork! haha! That picture captures the essence of the day, in my opinion. I love it! And I love him! :)  

VENDORS:

Photographer: Me, Laurel Donahoo!

Event Planner: Me, Laurel Donahoo!

Venue: Our Home

Florist: Me, Laurel Donahoo!

Cake: I made it!

Cookies: Marie Williams from The Honeycomb 

 
 
Haven't bought anything for your Valentines yet?  Don't worry; we have you covered!  We have compiled a lift of twenty-six gifts, perfect for anyone on your list.  Whether you want to treat your sweetheart, a precious child or your dearest friend, we guarantee these Mississippi-made products will make your Valentine smile!
Emerald Ring
Albriton's Jewelry Inc.
Jackson, MS
albritons.com 
Homemade Salsa
Redneck Homemade
Salsa
Available at Kroger
Handmade Lures
Treblehook Lures
Pearl, Mississippi
Available at The Pet Shop of Fonder
Capri Blue Candles
Aspen Bay Candle Company
Starkville, Mississippi
aspenbaycandles.com
Jams and Sauces
D'Evereux Foods
Natchez, Mississippi
devereuxfoods.com
Paintings
Haley Farris Artwork
Greenwood, Mississippi
Available at Gifts by KPEP
Handmade Duck Calls
Half Moon Duck Calls by Clifford Ammons
Ridgeland, Mississippi
cammons@watkinseager.com
Birthday Party Decor
Judith Anne's
Jackson, Mississippi
Available at Bows & Arrows
Jewelry
Liza Sorgenfrei Jewelry
Starkville, Mississippi
facebook.com/lizasorgenfreidesigns
Candles
Grassroots Natural Candle Company
Columbus, Mississippi
www.grassrootscandles.com
Men's Hunting Items
Wren & Ivy
Madison, Mississippi
wrenandivy.com
Available at Persnickety
Bath Balls
Musee Bath
Madison, Mississippi
museebath.com
Rebecca Baldwin Jewelry
Jackson, Mississippi
Available at Persnickety
Hand Carved Wood Items
Chuck Peel Woodwork
Madison, Mississippi
Available at Persnickety
Frame
White Barn Frames
Available at Farmhouse in Tupelo, Mississippi
Mama & Baby Butter
rOw10 Baby
Ridgeland, Mississippi
row10baby.com
Printed Items
Swell-O-Phonic
Jackson, Mississippi
chane.com
Porcelain Silhouette
Hands in Clay
Jackson, Mississippi
handsinclayjo.com
Painted Pottery
The Mustard Seed Gift Shop
Jackson, Mississippi
mustardseedinc.org
Clothing
Mississippi Hippie Apparel Co.
Oxford, Mississippi
mississippihippieapparel.com
Sauces
Kyvan Foods
Aberdeen, Mississippi
kyvan82.com
Bath Flowers
A'Marie's Bath Flower Shop
Pearl, Mississippi
amariesbathflowershop.com
Available at Persnickety
Wood Items
The Painted Possum
Brandon, Mississippi
paintedpossum.com
Cheese Straws
MeMaw's Cheese Straws
Yazoo City, Mississippi
memawscheesestraws.com
Available at Persnickety
Makeup
Amy Head Cosmetics
Ridgeland & Oxford, Mississippi
amyheadcosmetics.com
Recipe Helpers
Ala Carte Alice
Louisville, Mississippi
alacartealice.com
Photography by Adam + Alli Photography.  Check out their incredible work here
 
 
Mississippi's famous Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo kicks off this week!  From February 9th through the 19th, guests from around the world will flock to Jackson for the largest professional rodeo east of the Mississippi River.

Today, we are thrilled to feature one of Dixie National's most beloved characters, Lecile.  
“Let’s say there’s a cowboy in trouble.  He’s hung up and can’t get his hand out, so obviously it’s going to be a wreck.  To be able to get yourself in there in a position to untie his hand; to drop him out and allow him to escape unharmed by maneuvering the bull to you; to be able to work yourself out of that position; and to then top that off with a little piece of comedy – there’s no greater feeling I can think of.” Lecile Harris, author of Lecile: This Ain’t My First Rodeo

“When I return home from trips, I have a ‘honeydo’ list a mile long,” laughs Lecile Harris in a warm, comforting voice.  He has kind, sparkling eyes and a deep dimple in his left cheek. The passionately creative man, now eighty-years-old, has been a legend in the world of rodeo for over sixty years.  A renowned clown and bull fighter, Harris has just returned to his home in Collierville, Tennessee, from a weekend of dazzling crowds and saving cowboys. 

In 1936, Harris was born in a sleepy Delta town, nestled along the Mighty Mississippi.  “I was born in Lake Cormorant, Mississippi.  The town had one store, a general mercantile with a post office inside.”  He laughs, “And that’s where I was born – in the back room of a mercantile store.”

Creativity surges through Harris’s veins.  Even as a young child, he had a deep appreciation for the arts.  “I was raised on a farm and chopped cotton.  I knew there was something easier than that!  I wanted to come out of there with something,” he says.  Harris was a talented musician, drawer and painter, a born entertainer and brilliant comedian.  In his best-selling book, Lecile: This Ain’t My First Rodeo, he writes, “{Comedian} Boob Brasfield was my first introduction to comedy….Boob’s timing was what made him so good.  Even at ten years old, I recognized the importance of timing and it never left me.  Just like in music, timing is everything in comedy.”

Harris started a rock n’ roll band in high school and was a star football player.  “The first comedy I ever did was a bit called ‘Serenade to Insomniac.’”  Harris played the insomniac.  “They wanted me to go out and have trouble sleeping, but that wasn’t good enough for me,” he reflects.  Instead, he poured a glass of cold milk from a refrigerator, and pretended to slam his finger over and over in the door.  The audience went crazy.  “I just had to overdo it to be even funnier, and I’ve kept that up throughout my clowning career.” 

As a senior in high school, Harris was awarded a football scholarship to the University of Tennessee Martin.  He was looking for something to keep him in shape over the summer, and heard of a rodeo across the river in Arlington, Tenn.  A short trip and five dollars later, the eighteen-year-old became enamored with bull fighting and decided to give it a shot.  He was hooked (in more ways than one.)  “That sucker reared up and tore my shirt off and skinned my back up, and that just really made me mad,” Harris laughs.        

He continued to fight bulls and began studying the rodeo clowns.  “One Sunday the clown’s car broke down and he didn’t make it.  I took his place.  I knew nothing about it, other than watching him.  I was unorthodox and very different.  Because of that, it became a marketing tool for me.  I reverted back to watching my favorite childhood comedians – Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, and Red Skelton.” He closely studied a famous circus clown with the Ringling Brothers, who used pantomime and body language.  “Back then, we didn’t have microphones.  I might be over 65 yards from the crowd.  It called for a lot of body language.”  His physical comedy regularly had the audience roaring in laughter.

Harris’ musicality catapulted his clown career, as Harris danced with the bulls.  “When the sound guy started my record playing, I’d pair off with a bull and actually dance with him.  If the bull was good and hot and really rank, he’d watch my moves and match them in rhythm to the music.  Every once in a while, right in the middle of the song, he’d blow towards me.  When he did, I’d make a pass and step back out and start dancing again.  I did that for over thirty years, and it got to be a feature.”

Harris says he loves creating a character – not for himself, but for the clown.  “Lecile the clown is a different character from who I am.”  Harris owned a sign company for fifty years and was an incredible artist.  “I could draw, so I would draw my rodeo character.  I had blueprints of acts that I did.  I would draw myself in this situation to see what it was going to look like from the crowd’s point of view.” As soon as Harris steps into the rodeo arena, he becomes the clown.  “When I step in, my voice inflections change, my walk changes and my vocabulary changes.  I am that character until I walk out of the arena.”

Though he now resides in Collierville, the legend says, “Mississippi is just home.  I’m two miles from the Mississippi line now.  I didn’t get very far into Tennessee.  The Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson is kind of like going home.”  He smiles, “I see people in the stands who I have seen for years and I talk to them after the rodeo.  So many people will say, ‘My granddaddy used to bring me to the rodeo just to see you.’  For me to be able to say that I’ve worked in front of that many generations is truly unbelievable.  I have a connection with them and they have a connection with me.”

For over sixty years, Harris has captivated rodeo crowds across the world, from Arkansas to South Africa.  He has been named “Pro-Rodeo’s Clown of the Year” four times and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.  “That is certainly the highest honor. It’s your peers who put you there; not the public.  It’s your announcers, other acts and even other clowns.  That’s what makes it so special.” 

His beloved wife, Ethel, has been his constant companion since they married shortly after college.  “My wife has always supported me.  She didn’t really have a choice.  When she complained about me being broken up, crippled, or gone, I say, ‘I was doing this when we got married,’” he laughs.  Harris and Ethel have three children, who inherited his joy for the arts.  Matt, his eldest son, joined Harris in his clown acts.   His son, Chuck, is a professional drummer, and daughter Christi was a dancer with The Beach Boys.  To his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he is affectionately known as “Big Daddy.”

“I was really busy all of my life,” reflects Harris.  “And to this day, I remain busy.  Collierville has a historical district and their signs are hand-painted the old-fashioned way.  So, this morning at 5:30am, I was up on the square lettering signs for the city.  Painting is still kind of my therapy.”  Harris continues performing in rodeos most weekends of the year.  “I fought bulls for thirty-six years, had a lot of broken bones and licks.  I have an old tractor that hasn’t been used in ages and is completely rusted down.”  He laughs, “That’s just the way I’m going to be if I give up.  I still enjoy what I do, and when I don’t enjoy it, I’ll just walk away.”

Photography by Adam + Alli Photography and Article by Mitchell Ammons Walters.  View their incredible website here!  For more information on the 2017 Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo, please click here! 
 
 
Treat your tiniest Valentine to a sweet afternoon date this February!  There is something so special about the relationship between a father and his daughter; why not make your little one feel extra loved this Valentine's Day?!  

Rent a limousine, gift her with pretty flowers and head out for pizza and ice cream!  We promise it will be an evening to remember for years to come!