Otha Turner was an integral part of his Mississippi community, both as a musician and an event planner. The notable fife player, part of the recording and performing group The Gravel Springs Fife and Drum Band, is remembered in this short video from the Southern Foodways Alliance for the annual Labor Day picnic he thew on his property, to which everyone in the area was invited for food and live music.
Turner's picnic tradition began in the 1950s, and continued until his death in 2003 at the age of 95. In addition to blues performances from his group and others, Turner's parties included the butchering and grilling of a whole goat (hence the name of one of The Gravel Springs Fife and Drum Band's later albums, "Everybody Hollerin' Goat"). Watch the video above for a look at one of Turner's community-wide events, from Labor Day weekend 1978.
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Thumb photograph by William Ferris, William R. Ferris Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.