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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Polkville in Scott County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Smith County Jamboree

 
 
Smith County Jamboree Marker (front) image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, August 1, 2021
1. Smith County Jamboree Marker (front)
Inscription.  (front)
Founded in 1972 as the Taylorsville Bluegrass Jamboree when ray Jones and other area pickers looked for a place to play together for their growing audience, this grass roots event soon became a spur and focal point for bluegrass from the region. The Magnolia State Bluegrass Association was founded by participating enthusiasts during the 1975 edition. Presented for decades in auditoriums, then at the Armory at Taylorsville, the show relocated to Polksville’s Music Barn in 2001 and continued as a broader country music show, The Smith County Jamboree.

(back)
Smith County Jamboree In the 1960s, playing bluegrass and traditional music was a popular downhome pastime in this area—played by self-taught musicians, at home on their own porches, or on each other’s. Among those were brothers Ray and Truman Jones of Taylorsville, who, laong with friends Leon Clark and Roy McKinly, formed the bluegrass band Ray & Roy and Country Play Boys. Noting growing crowds of fans showing up for their shows, Ray Jones arranged for his band and others recently formed in the area—J.L Jones and the Good Guys, Louis Grape
Smith County Jamboree Marker (back) image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, August 1, 2021
2. Smith County Jamboree Marker (back)
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& Band, the Page Family, and Earl & Eddie and the Blue Mountain Boys—to perform together as the Taylorsville Bluegrass Jamboree, in the auditorium at Taylorsville’s City Hall, on New Year’s Day 1972. It was the improvised start of one of Mississippi’s longest running country music festivals.

The first week of January became the annual time for the jamboree, which soon moved to Taylorsville school auditoriums, and saw a growing array of local outfits join the mid-1970s editions of the show, including john Stuart and The Bluegrass Five and Freddie Rose, and the Darden Family, as well as regional gospel and bluegrass acts from Alabama and Louisiana. Gospel and bluegrass gospel became regular annual features of the Jamboree during that time. In 1975, looking to promote family-oriented bluegrass throughout the area, Ray and Truman Jones brought together more than two dozen musicians to organize the Magnolia State Bluegrass Association. The Association was formally chartered as a non-profit organization in 1978, grew to a membership of over 1600, and went on to foster outdoor and indoor festivals across the region.

In the 1980s, the growing Taylorsville Bluegrass Jamboree was moved to the local school auditorium and was still being held there as it marked its 20th anniversary in 1992, before relocating the winter show to the National Guard Armory the following year
Smith County Jamboree Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, August 1, 2021
3. Smith County Jamboree Marker
for the remainder of the 1990s. An additional Spring outing was added because of the growing demand, and then in 2003, looking to the event’s future and the interests of future generations, the Jamboree relocated to the Polkville Music Barn to become the annual Smith County Jamboree, presented in January by jan and Claudia Arender. Smith County officials declared a “Ray Jones Day” in January 2010. Passing its 40th anniversary in 2012, the Jamboree had broadened its sounds to include traditional country music.

The Southern Bluegrass Boys, 1975, with Leon Clark on fiddle, Truman Jones on guitar to his right, seven year-old randy Jones behind the microphone, and Cecil Rayborn singing lead.

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Ray Jones & friends at the first Polksville/Smith County Jamboree, 2003.

The Southern Bluegrass Boys, 1975, with Leon Clark on fiddle, Truman Jones on guitar to his right, seven year-old Randy Jones behind the microphone, and Cecil Rayborn singing lead.

The Cooksey Family, in a typical high-spirited performance at the Armory, 1990s. Below, the Darden Family: Walter, Mike, Virginia and Chris, and bass player J.W. Walters, at the schoolhouse, 1980s

Taylorsville Post reports on early 1970s festival editions—and the 1992 anniversary show

Ray Gray, responsible for many physical plant improvements at the
Smith County Jamboree Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, August 1, 2021
4. Smith County Jamboree Marker
Polksville Music Barn, buck dancing with fiddler Bernie Linton at a schoolhouse show.

John Stuart & The Bluegrass Five featured in the mid-1970s jamborees.

Photos and document images courtesy of Eva Herod, Roy Jones, Bertie Sullivan, and Jay Arender. Research by Barry Mazor.
 
Erected 2014 by Mississippi Country Music Trail. (Marker Number 26.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicEntertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Country Music Trail 🎶 series list.
 
Location. 32° 11.496′ N, 89° 41.909′ W. Marker is in Polkville, Mississippi, in Scott County. Marker is on State Highway 13, 0.1 miles east of County Highway 141, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6280 MS-13, Morton MS 39117, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 15 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Shiloh Methodist Campground (approx. 8.4 miles away); Choctaw Line (approx. 9½ miles away); The Ueltschey Tannery (approx. 9.7 miles away); Rubin Lacy (approx. 10.2 miles away); Centenary College (approx. 12.4 miles away); Smith County Courthouse (approx. 15 miles away); Harrison Hotel (approx. 15 miles away).
 
Also see . . .
Polksville’s Music Barn image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, August 1, 2021
5. Polksville’s Music Barn
 Mississippi Country Music Trail. (Submitted on August 7, 2021.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 6, 2021, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 52 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 6, 2021, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee.   5. submitted on August 7, 2021, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 1, 2021