There are some places that I just feel at home. You all have heard me talk about Metropolis, IL, which is home of the Superman Celebration, and how I gush about the great people who live there and those who visit during the Celebration. I love it and consider myself an ambassador for that great town. Could I live there? I think most certainly.
Another such place is Leland, MS, which is the birthplace and childhood home of my hero, Jim Henson. Situated on the banks of Deer Creek, the Jim Henson Delta Boyhood Museum features gems of Jim's childhood in photos, history, and his career. There are a ton of great collectibles on display and even books to read, videos to watch, and toys to play with. They also have a great scrap book collection which you can thumb through.
For the past three years, they have held the Leland Frog Fest in celebration of the Birthplace of the Frog! I've been lucky enough to be invited down for each of the Fests and get to do some artwork and puppetry each time, and I love that. You can tell that the gentleness of Jim's philosophies come from there, and the people who are there exude that feeling of sweet, down-home folk. I have made several good friends there over the years and, just like those in Metropolis over the past 12 or so years, I have come to cherish them.
This year, Muley and I showed up just in time to get over to the stage and host the kids' costume contest as great Blues artists were wrapping up. Muley even jumped out of shot for a bit for his own costume as Kermit the Frog! We went over to the Art Tent to teach folks to draw Muppets. Then, on to see the talents of Peter Zapletal and his puppetry troupe. Muley was interviewed by a Delta State University student and visited with kids. Unfortunately, we missed Doris Jones' story telling; but, we got to see Doris as we got into town. You can see all the performers on this list.
Oh, and someone please tell me who had the food truck with the chili-cheese-onion covered deep fried tamales that one kids told me I needed to eat, because it was DELICIOUS! Speaking of delicious, my place to go in Leland for a delicious dinner is Vince's--they open at 5:30 pm, don't go before, but the wait is worth it. Your mouth will beg for more! Our favorite there is Deborah who, even a year later, remembered me and the puppeteers* of "SuperMule and the Cookie Caper." (*If you don't know who supports the Muley team: Buford the Dog and Missy Mule are supported by Martheus Wade, Janet Wade and last year Roy Duck was supported by DaMarco Randle, but nowadays Andrew Chandler.)
Below are photos of this year's event to enjoy! Have fun, and meet my friends in Leland, MS!
|A billboard on HWY 61 heading down to Leland, MS.
|Pat Thomas: The son of famed Mississippi
bluesman James “Son” Thomas
|Chili Cook-off. Don't be fooled: It's illegal to eat frog's legs in Leland!
|This was a sign dedicated to the bridge at the first ever Frog Fest!
Learn more about that event by clicking here.
|Muley hosting the kids' costume contest, something he's very
good at, and gets a 'kick' out of as well. Ashley Zepponi of
the JH Museum helps a pirate on the stage.
|Muley felt back at home in Memphis when Elvis showed up.
|Muley rouses an applause from the crowd for the first group of
great kids costumes!
|Muley is glad to be seen with all the great kids in the second group
of costumes, again rousing the crowd to applaud these wonderful children!
|Muley and Kev in a selfie by the Rainbow Connection Bridge sign.
|Great Muppet Merchandise!
|My own drawings during the "Draw Muppets"
classes at the Art Tent! Everyone did a great job!
|Peter Zapletal introducing his puppet show. Probably the
10th show I've ever seen and not been in.
|A beautiful Sky God puppet which was very reminiscent
of the African Masks puppets on the Harry Belafonte
episode of "The Muppet Show."
|Do you know what comes up next and where it's located?
|When I see this, I always get excited in my heart!
|When I see this, I get happy in my heart!
|When I walk up to these doors, joy 'hops' all over me.
|A decorated pumpkin in the museum next to the guest book.
|From our initial visit in 2007 when we took the famous "Kermit & Jim" photo.
Lin Workman, Martheus and Janet Wade, and I drew the image shown and
our photo together has ended up in the museum's scrapbook.
|In his own unique way, Muley choosing the
museum's door prize (a Gund Talking Abby Cadabby).
|Kids' art adorns the museum!
|A close-up of some art.
|Artwork by Jessie Oliver, a Facebook friend, that is framed and
sits next to a Jane Henson Memory book for guests to fill out.
|Next to the photo that we took the famous "Kermit and Jim" photo with.
|Muley and I donate an official 8x10" copy of the photo to the
museum to Dot Turk and Ashley Zepponi.
|One of my favorite images of Jim and the Muppets.
|I sit on the Rainbow Couch with a Giant Kermit plush I wish I
owned holding Ashley's large Fozzie plush that I also wish
I owned. (I asked her to let me inherit it one day.)
|Menu at my favorite eaterie in Leland!
|Lobster and shrimp cannelloni in a
white cheese and wine sauce. Delicious!