When Wayne Andrews moved to Oxford, he expected to see the booming business of craft breweries in town, but at that time, Mississippi had legislation in place blocking craft breweries. Since then laws have changed, and there are now 11 craft breweries creating tourism and job opportunities in the state.
The state legislature recently passed a House bill that would allow Mississippi breweries to sell the beer they brew on premises, within limitations. HB1322 will take effect July 1 and is another victory for local breweries looking to grow their brand.
This weekend, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s annual Miss-I-sippin’ will once again invite the community of Oxford to come out and experience craft beer, food and music. The two-day event will begin this Friday evening and continue Saturday from 12 to 8 p.m.
Andrews, executive director of Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, has been in charge of the event since its start. The idea spurred from several different areas, including Andrews’ love of beer, as well as the bigger aspect – that Mississippi did not allow craft breweries when he moved to town.
Andrews found that people were pushing for craft breweries.
“It’s both economic development, you know, breweries create jobs, and also tourism … So, it’s bringing people to the town … It is a boom for small towns,” he said.
Since Andrews moved here, the laws have changed, and there are now 11 breweries in Mississippi “making very interesting beers.”
“We created Miss-I-Sippin’ to talk about Mississippi food, culture, art and how they’re all interconnected, and nine years later, it’s still chuggin’ along,” Andrews said.
The two-day event begins this Friday at the Powerhouse with the Brewer’s Dinner, prepared by Dwayne Ingraham, winner of Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen.
“He’s come up with a whole kind of pairing menu with the dessert being matched to the Coffee Break beer that Yalobusha (Brewing Co.) does,” Andrews said.
“The menu that I created I really wanted to reflect what we do over at Sinfully Southern in a sense of kind of take some of the things that were unique to my past and my childhood and share the experience,” Ingraham said.
The dinner’s menu includes crawfish pie, gumbo, smothered pork loin and banana pudding, all of which are a nod to Boothville, Louisiana – Ingraham’s home town.
The Growler will have a special tasting with giveaways, trivia and a lecturer for people who stop by on Saturday, according to Andy Douglas, general manager.
“A few people in town have tentatively agreed to give a talk about tasting beers and different qualities of beer and about the history,” Douglas said.
According to Andrews, brewers are excited to attend because they have the opportunity to share their product with people who are eager to learn while enjoying one-on-one discussions.
“Our (event) is nice, small and intimate with conversation and is about having a lot of fun,” he said. “But it is also a chance that (brewers) get to directly talk to someone using (their) product.”
Starting at 3 p.m. the beer pavilion, located at the Old Armory Pavilion on University Avenue, will open and feature live music, Gus’s Fried Chicken, games and various activities.
“We have what we hope will be the first annual chicken wing-eating contest,” Andrews’ said. The contest is open to the public, and there will be a $10 entry fee.
“Having good brands like that does help us to have a good event. People go, ‘I know what to expect,’” Andrews said.
The council sells around 400 tickets each year, making about $6,000 in profits, which helps fund free events hosted throughout the year.
It also hosts several other events throughout the year as a way of being an active part of the community.
“We don’t want to be an organization where you can only hear from us once a year,” Andrews said. “I think that kind of experiential giving, where people feel that they’re going to something for a good cause, is a little more enjoyable, a little more palatable.”
The council hosts quarterly fundraising events including Three Blind Wines, a wine tasting contest; Sunset Concert Series, which takes place in the Grove every Sunday in June; Miss-I-Sippin’ and an ornament auction in December.
“We have a lot of programs. There is something always going on. We have a little bit of everything.”
This article was submitted to The Daily Mississippian from an advanced reporting class.