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Sweet tea and good company

Women in flower bedecked hats sipped tea and munched on scones as a lone violin set the mood at the inaugural Sweet Mississippi Tea Festival’s High Tea.

Ramona Barnes was elated to share scones and stories over tea with her friends.

“I’m so excited we’re having it,” Barnes said. “I can’t wait for the next one. It’s just a fun idea.”

Festival attendee Susan Rushton said she enjoyed the afternoon tea, because afternoon tea is a traditional way of life in her home country of England.

“I like to see all the hats and floral dresses,” Rushton said.

The High Tea was hosted by the Poplarville Women’s Club, who sold at least 65 tickets at $15 each, said High-Tea Committee Chair Shirley Wiltshire.

Proceeds from the ticket sales will be divided between the Women’s Club and the Poplarville High School culinary arts program, Wiltshire said. The culinary arts program prepared the food and provided service for the High Tea. Next year the club hopes to sell 100 to 125 tickets to the festival’s High Tea, Wiltshire said.

The High Tea was just one of the attractions at the festival, which took place from Oct. 18 to Oct. 19. Festival attendees could also enjoy a fun jump, purchase chicken and waffles from a food vendor, listen to Serabee and the Blue Revival Band in the evening and of course, sample the various types of tea.

Although it was the first Sweet Mississippi Tea Festival, event vendors like Angela DeVault were surprised by the foot traffic.

DeVault sold monster cookies and fall flavored baked goods from A Cake to Remember.

“The customers have been good. I think that shows how well put together it is,” DeVault said.

DeVault’s daughter, Kaitlin Johnson, sold makeup products from the booth next door. Johnson said outdoor festivals can be challenging for small businesses, but with high foot traffic they provide an opportunity for good business.

Vendor Bruce Davis was also impressed by the sales, he said. Davis sold succulents planted in antique teacups to fit with the festival’s theme. Davis was surprised by the age of his customers.

“I figured it’d be senior ladies, but younger girls really like them,” Davis said.

Mississippi gardening columnist Felder Rushing described the festival as wow, in italics.

“For a start up, ‘wow.’ A lot of festivals start quiet and sad. This place is vibrant,” Rushing said.