Washington County’s annual Kaolin Festival provides the venue for Hovey to explain the origin of the universe and of the state’s kaolin clay deposits in 7 minutes, tell a new story about Watermelon Smith, the first black steamboat master in the pre-Civil War South; and present some of his hunting adventures with his often “strange” muzzleloading guns.
The hunting stories include “Bouncing Bounty,” how an outrageously long flintlock pistol takes a Florida buck; “Armadillo Safari,” where he goes hunting with a Japanese Matchlock and “Howdah Hunter,” where a double-barreled pistol designed to kill tigers climbing up Elephant’s backs is used to take a Texas hog.
Watermelon Smith’s exploits are part of a book-in-progress describing the evolution of the fictional town of Smith’s Pass, located between Louisiana and Mississippi, which the home of the “Order of the White Magnolia Burial and Beneficent Society.” The evolution of the community is traced from its earliest beginnings to modern day when a newcomer comes to work for a paper mill and finds himself joining this secret society whose curious customs are guided by their motto, “Once among us, always with us.”
Ads on the show include “Festivals, Inc.” founded to gather information about community festivals nationwide. This fee-paid organization helps communities start and plan successful festivals by providing lists of potential events, costs, event time lines, publicity guides and probable cost-benefit analysis. By visiting festivals and using business analysis techniques, new festivals can be designed based on successful festivals held in other communities.