The Southern Agenda, June/July 2011
Goings-on in the South & Beyond
HAVE A (COTTON) BALL
Eighty years, one Great Depression, and a handful of recessions since the founding of the Cotton Carnival, cotton is king again. We’re betting the Memphis businessmen who started the event in 1931 to promote the crop would be proud. Although it officially changed its name to Carnival Memphis in 1987, its mission has remained the same—fostering commerce and community service in the River City. Not to mention throwing one hell of a party.
Carnival Week begins the first Friday after Memorial Day and, in the tradition of Mardi Gras, is supported by Krewes. Each of the ten Grand Krewes hosts parties during the week, but the Crown and Sceptre Ball (June 3) is easily the grandest (it’s also one of the few events for which non-Krewe members can score tickets). The strictly white-tie affair introduces Carnival’s reigning king and queen along with their court of pages and princesses. Then ties get loosened as Nashville’s legendary Pat Patrick Band keeps revelers dancing into the wee hours, helped along by a visit from the decidedly informal Secret Order of the Boll Weevils, Carnival’s costume-clad band of merry mischief-makers. carnivalmemphis.org
LET THEM DRINK BEER
Alabama hasn’t exactly been a hotbed for craft beer, which is why a couple of frustrated Birmingham beer enthusiasts formed Free the Hops—a nonprofit committed to changing antiquated laws that have left Alabamians high and dry. Deciding a beer festival was just the thing to raise awareness (and funds), they founded the Magic City Brewfest (June 3-4). Held at Sloss Furnaces, a steel mill turned hip hangout, the festival has quickly become one of the hottest tickets in town. For a penny a pour, sample Southern favorites such as Terrapin and Sweetwater. But arrive early to snag one of the limited spots in the curated tastings, where you can sip hard-to-find foreign brands like Belgium’s St. Bernardus and experimental brews like Alabama’s own Redheaded Stepchild from Good People Brewing Company.
HAIL TO THE KING
Photographer Alfred Wertheimer had never heard of Elvis Presley when he was offered an assignment in 1956 to photograph the still relatively unknown singer from Memphis. But the twenty-six-year-old Wertheimer needed rent money and took the job anyway. Good thing for Elvis fans. Beginning June 4, fifty-six of Wertheimer’s photos will be on display at Little Rock’s Clinton Presidential Library and Museum for the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition Elvis at 21. The photos provide a candid look at the young hipshaker, including everything from glimpses of the singer backstage to intimate shots at home with his high-school sweetheart. Wertheimer even followed Presley into the bathroom as he trimmed those soon-to-be-legendary sideburns. clintonlibrary.gov
Come summer, fishing tournaments—big and small—pepper the Gulf coastline. But the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic (June 21-26) at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort tops the list. Timed to coincide with peak blue marlin season, the fishing is world-class, and the tourney holds the record for the Gulf Coast’s largest purse. Along with the man in the blue suit, anglers pursue tuna, dolphin, and wahoo, and even landlubbers are welcome at the nightly dock parties. fishecbc.com