Half blues festival, half small town fair… and all about the Delta!
A Festival for Everyone
The Juke Joint Festival is a real deal Mississippi blues fest that celebrates Clarksdale’s past, and present and more. There’s more than 100 music acts, good food, family fun, juke joints… and monkey’s riding dogs, racing pigs, plenty of court jesters… and thousands of people and visitors from all over the world.
Yep, this is that festival you’ve read about in the New York Times, and heard about on Sirius-XM Radio.
The Juke Joint Festival features authentic blues and roots American music. In the day, there’s dozens of different acts on different stages at the same time. At night, the music moves indoors to some 20 different Clarksdale venues all over town. Music in the day is free, and indoor night music comes with a low-cost entrance wristband.
The main event is always on the Saturday of the Fest. But the fun starts rolling well into the week before. The kickoff opening is always the Thursday before the main event, and that Friday educational and music happenings are all day. Often that Friday night is a live Clarksdale edition of the Thacker Mountain Radio show recorded live at the New Roxy Theater on Issaquena Avenue (get there early, the open air theater fills up good.
Usually the main event day kicks off at 8 am that morning with a 5K/8K run, and the vendors are all open for sure by 10 am (and some much earlier).
Sunday caps off the weekend with a series of related events around town — including the always free Cat Head Mini Blues Fest and Second Street Blues Party.
The are three vendor categories: Arts & Crafts, Food, and Information/ Education.
There were some 69 Arts & Crafts vendors for 2018, 23 Food Vendors and 18 vendors with information and educational exhibits.
Wristbands allow entry into every nighttime music venue; there were more than 20 of them in 2018. Wristbands cost $25, but they can be bought pre-event online for $20.
During the day wristbands came be bought at 243 Delta at JJF HQ, at the Thur. kick-off event at The New Roxy, and on Saturday evening they can be purchased at select venues (Club 2000, The Bank, Ground Zero Blues Club and Hopson Commissary).
Juke Joint Festival attendees fill up downtown Clarksdale. Most are repeat visitors and many book accommodations in advance (lodging here). Food is available throughout the festival, and Clarksdale restaurants are packed. Many attendees start arriving in town days to a week or more in advance.
More Festival Info
R.V. Parking is available (form here). All downtown Clarksdale streets are closed from 2 am to 5 pm on Saturday. No unofficial ATV’s or Golf Carts allowed.
Historic Clarksdale, Mississippi, is less than 90 minutes south of the Memphis International Airport. Son House, John Lee Hooker, Junior Parker, Ike Turner, Eddie Boyd, Sam Cooke, Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, Earl Hooker, Lil Green, Big Jack Johnson and many many others came from, or through here. Among today’s bluesmen are Super Chikan, Kingfish, Razorblade, Big A and Watermelon Slim.