Stephen Thompson, friend of Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, traveled from New Jersey for the Bentonia Blues Festival. The two have been friends for about six years. Credit: Sereena Henderson / Mississippi Today

Imagine this: a Yazoo County town with a population of less than 500 welcoming close to 10,000 people traveling from places like Las Vegas, Canada, Japan and Bolivia. And it’s all for one thing – the blues.

Every year, on the third Saturday in June, blues legend Jimmy “Duck” Holmes hosts the Bentonia Blues Festival. The day-long event takes place on the farm where Holmes grew up, known by locals simply as “Holmes Farm.” But, for the past two years, Holmes has extended the event into a week-long celebration of “Bentonia Blues.”

“People would come and camp out all week long and wait for Saturday,” Holmes said. “So, I decided, if they’re here, we’ll entertain them for the whole week.”

The 46th Annual Bentonia Blues Festival week kicked off on June 11 at Holmes’ Blue Front Café. Originally owned by Holmes’ parents, the world famous Mississippi Blues Trail site is located off of Highway 49 northwest of Jackson.

Yazoo County locals, tourists and musicians from all over the world will gather in and outside of the dim-lit café every night until they move the blues celebration about a mile and a half down the road to Holmes Farm on June 15.

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Sereena Henderson managed Mississippi Today’s social media and reported on Mississippi culture from August 2016 until June 2020. She was also a member of the engagement team and curated and delivered the daily newsletter. Sereena, a native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is a graduate of the Ole Miss School of Journalism and New Media.