- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

LELAND, Miss. (AP) - This year’s Leland Crawfish Festival, the longest running in the state at 23 years, will be dedicated to Buster Morlino, a Leland native who was active in his community and even received the key to the city not once, but twice.

Buster Morlino was a small, soft-spoken man, but he had a huge heart and a lot of love for Leland and its citizens. Not just Buster, but the whole Morlino family, they have been a vital, positive part of Leland for a century. All the Morlinos are home bodies and lucky for all of us, Leland is their home,” said Billy Johnson, Highway 61 Blues Museum curator who oversees the annual festival.

Mr. Morlino always supported all things Leland, including the Leland Blues Project. He came to and contributed to every event we ever had and encouraged others to do the same.”

The festival, set for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, will be held for the third straight year in the Buster Morlino Community Center, Johnson said.

“We have a big day planned. Good food, good music and good people. That’s what we’re known for here in the Delta,” he said. “Louisiana natives and their food and music have been a positive part of the Delta’s culture for a long time. This festival celebrates that.”

On the stage providing entertainment will be The Lillo’s Thursday Night Band; The Illegitimate Son of a Legend; Martin Flanagan; Jimmy Phillips and the Ruminators; Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers; and Jason Fratesi and the Dirt Road Jam Band.

“We have a fabulous line up of musicians,” Johnson said. “We are proud to showcase our local Delta musicians and to have a Leland native, Martin Flanagan, come here to perform.”

Ryan Moore, co-owner of Cicero’s in Stoneville, along with his crew, will be cooking about 2,000 pounds of crawfish and barbecue plates, Johnson said.

While proceeds from the festival go to the Highway 61 Blues Museum, Johnson is asking folks to bring two canned goods for the Leland F.E.E.D Food Pantry.

“Because of the public’s support, we have donated over 5,000 cans of food over the years for the needy,” Johnson said.

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Information from: Delta Democrat-Times, https://www.ddtonline.com

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