Rolling Fork is in the news and on my mind this week

Published 11:31 am Monday, April 3, 2023

By Kara Kimbrough
    Mississippi is known for its rich history, natural beauty and yes, even our unusual city and town names. A few of my favorite names are Soso, Mt. Olive, Biloxi, Arm, Como, Foxworth, D’Lo, Panther Burn and Duck Hill. Another interesting name that hit my radar last year was the small town of Rolling Fork in Sharkey County. When the town’s newspaper, the Deer Creek Pilot, began publishing my column last year, I was intrigued about the origin of both names, but never stopped to do a little research. 
    Rolling Fork reentered my mind, as well as most of the nation’s, when the town was decimated by the deadly EF-4 tornado that hit the state March 24. Most of Rolling Fork’s businesses and homes were flattened and many residents lost their lives. Surprisingly, the newspaper office was spared. However, with no electricity in the building, editor/publisher Natalie Perkins was forced to write articles, edit photos, design and compile the following week’s newspaper from her Anguilla home five miles away.
   To call this a herculean feat amid the destruction and chaos left by the storm in her town and personal life would be an understatement. Perkins managed to publish what can only be described as one of the most notable newspaper editions in the state’s history. Her determination in the face of disaster has been preceded in magnitude only once. That’s when the Biloxi Sun-Herald’s staff managed to publish its Aug. 30, 2005 edition the day after Hurricane Katrina destroyed most of the Gulf Coast.
    So, to the point of my column. First, I finally took the time to learn the origin of Rolling Fork’s name. It supposedly came when the original founder named the town after a fast-moving, rolling part of a fork in nearby Deer Creek. Simultaneously, I learned where the newspaper got its name.
   And my second point: besides culture, tradition, history, beauty and quirky names, Mississippi is filled with wonderful, strong, caring people. In addition to Perkins, who single mindedly did whatever it took to publish a newspaper to serve as a fitting tribute to the town’s heartache as well as its resilience, hundreds descended on Rolling Fork to help in a multitude of ways. 
    Churches, organizations, municipalities and just ordinary Mississippians who cared and wanted to do what they could to help, flocked to Rolling Fork in the days following the storm. Our people are what make Mississippi special, transcending our state’s beauty and uniqueness.
   To help the Deer Creek Pilot continue to operate in the coming months as the town and surrounding counties recover, the Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, established a Go Fund Me campaign with a goal of $15,000 to cover essential operating costs like printing and delivery.
    The MPAEF also reestablished its Local Journalism Relief Fund, a campaign dedicated to help local newspapers and employees facing advertising after natural disasters. The fund provided vital support to local media following Katrina. 
   To make a contribution or for more information, contact the MPAEF at 601-981-3060.
    In honor of our state’s resilience in the face of crisis, I searched for a recipe in an old cookbook simply entitled, “The Mississippi Cookbook.” It’s a wonderful cookbook from the 1970’s filled with tried-and-true recipes from cooks around the state. I found a recipe for hot chicken salad from a Booneville (another great city name) cook. It will translate well to modern-day Mississippi as we deal with fluctuating spring and let’s hope – tornado-free weather.
The Mississippi Cookbook’s Hot Chicken Salad
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cups chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated onions
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped pimento
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup grated cheese
1-1/2 cups crushed potato chips
Mix all ingredients except chips and cheese. Put into a 2-quarter casserole dish. Mix cheese and potato chips and spread over top of mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at

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