Every January, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is a big hit for many Yazooans. Barbecue cookouts and football games are common for adults, while children get to enjoy a free day out of school.
But for the last 12 years, no one has matched the MLK Wild Game Cookout Party thrown at Kenneth Granderson's home on Fouche Pit Road in the Benton community.
Granderson said that the cookout started in 2006, when he got together a small group of family and friends to celebrate the holiday.
"We started it out as just a little small thing, cooking, just a wild game cookout, and each year after that it just started growing and growing," said Granderson.
As word of mouth spread, the number of participants grew year after year, bringing in over a hundred people from all over Yazoo County, and even across state lines.
"We have had people come from Chicago, St.Louis, New Orleans, Texas, and California. They have come from everywhere," said Granderson, "I know one time we used a clicker to count at least 130 people there at one time."
The outdoor cookout often features a variety of wild game and other recipes and desserts, such as wild hog, deer sausage, squirrel dumplings, raccoon, catfish, white perch, bream, ribs, fried chicken, fried pork chops, soup, chili, salad, cakes, and pies.
"We had four tables and it was stretched out full of food. We have ladies on a serving line, where everybody just gets in line and just tells them what they want," said Granderson.
The event is often outdoors, but no matter if the weather is rainy, sunny, windy, or snowy, there are always tailgating tents, cookers, and a DJ. Granderson's close friend and neighbor, Jesse Henderson Sr. has been providing the music for 11 years.
As the event grew even larger, Granderson said they included raffles and door prizes to add more fun to the festivities.
"I think we gave away four money prizes, and we probably gave away 10 or 12 little gift sets, just something to make it a little more fun," said Granderson.
He added that he had a lot of support from his neighbors.
One thing that made the event so much larger, is that it occurred alongside a Martin Luther King Day March in Benton, that was hosted by a local church.
"When they got through marching from the church, a lot of people would leave that march and come to the house," he said.
Granderson said that he could not have been able to host this event over these last several years without the help of friends, family, and other volunteers.
"I would like to thank everybody that has come out to participate," he said, "I had some real real good help, whether it was from picking up paper to purchasing things, coming to help cook or washing dishes, I appreciate everything that everyone did to make it a success."
Granderson has enjoyed hosting the event year after year, but now he feels that its time to pass on the event to a younger generation.
"I just don't have the time to put into it like I did, and I have gotten older," said Granderson, "It’s a lot of work, everybody knows it’s a lot of work, but I'm hoping someone else will continue the tradition."
Granderson has always enjoyed the food and fellowship of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and hopes that next year he will be an attendee, instead of a host, and he looks forward to seeing what the next generation has to offer.