• Ellen Harris

Delta Roots Festival 2022

On this July 4, I’m resting and reflecting gratefully on holding the 1st Delta Roots Festival, June 17 - 19. Today these are my moments of celebration. To recognize and celebrate the legacy of Juneteenth my friend, Cassandra, and I chose to focus on transforming health and wellness through movement, mindfulness, music, food, culture and fun. We believe to build a strong resilient community you must take care of self in order to take care of others. And during the course of our conversations about vision, Cassandra turned ‘Roots’ into Ramping up Our Outreach Toward promoting Self-care in the MS Delta.


A gorgeous sunrise on the morning of June 17 set the tone for the festival weekend.

Benita Rivera took our vision and created a beautiful flyer, banner, and T-shirt artwork for us. Two friends, Dianna Stukes and Deirdra Chester flew in from VA and MD, respectively, to visit and lend much appreciated extra hands of support. After months of planning, we started with a reception Friday evening for sponsors, wellness practitioners and vendors. For our first time ever festival, we are very grateful to the following sponsors: Greenville (MS Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Cassandra Atley (Gold); Guaranty Bank, Essie Patterson Farm Trucking, LLC, and Don Atley, Sr. (Silver); Jessie’s Cleaning Service and Cabin on the Bogue (Bronze); Three Blessings Yoga Farm & Wellness Center (Platinum); Washington County Board of Supervisors Courthouse and City of Greenville, MS (In-Kind Services).

The food and drink prepared by A Spoon Above Catering was artfully and deliciously prepared. Vocalist, Lljuana Weir, and DJ, Rod Williams, creatively coordinated musical expression through live and recorded music throughout the evening.

Of course, Saturday was Mississippi hot, but a beautiful day. Vendors arrived early to setup. Many thanks to Sara Brooks and Queens Garb; Sheila Howard and Ra’ Natural Juice; Jackie and Malik Haynes and Kulture Life Herbs and Spices; and Samesa Hoskin for helping us launch our inaugural Vendors Village. The MS African Co-operative unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute but contributed their vendor’s fee to the festival. Special thanks to Mayor Errick Simmons, who stopped by for support and thankfully took pictures of our vendors and others.

From 10:30am – 3;45pm, the lineup of Wellness Practitioners included Jasmine Styles with kickboxing; me with a mix of restorative & gentle yoga; Gilda Sanford, Move It to Lose It Dance with the Delta Divas doing line dancing; Cassandra Atley and Zumba practice; and Kenneth Joseph talking, demonstrating and leading Body Basic Fitness. Spoken word was presented by Samesa Hoskins, which led to an extra special treat from Marvin Parker, Jr. with the Delta News and Malik Haynes, one of our vendors, sharing their poems. African drumming all the way from Jackson, MS closed us out with Eddie Dorman and Alkedulan Music Philosophy. We would have gone longer, but the drumming must have called on the ancestors to release cooling rain. Luckily, someone was watching a weather app and we all were able to breakdown things and head out before the truly heavy rains came.


We ended our 3-day celebration on Sunday with a loving kindness meditation led by Thishya Perera. I presented a short sound healing session with a bit of Thai yoga massage. Cassandra led a reflective closing, which included several questions on how we might enhance the festival for next year. Great suggestions, comments and recommendations were shared and much appreciated.



Special thanks extended to folks that took photos; Deirdra, Dianna, Cassandra, Mayor Errick Simmons, and me. So grateful for all that supported and participated at the Delta Roots Festival. Cassandra and I are already planning for next year. Take care, ya’ll.




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