“We are sorry to report that Flo Rida’s plane has not left California. He will not be performing this evening.” I was standing marginally close to the main stage at Mississippi State University’s Bulldog Bash. Hearing those few words was all I needed to brace myself for the impending confusion.
And then, 20 seconds later, the barrage of boos (yes boos, not booze…okay, probably both). Being in town for a grand total of three hours at the time, I decided to do what the locals do–join the disharmonious chorus. We sounded…awesome? Or awesomely miffed. Regardless of the cancellation, the party raged deep into the night by moving into nighttime establishments and homes. And it flowed into the following day. But the following day is a story for one of my next blogs! Flo Rida? Forget him! His cancellation didn’t ruin my incredibly fun night in the heart of Starkville, Mississippi’s Cotton District.
What Is The Bulldog Bash?
The Bulldog Bash is a massive autumn celebration attracting over 30,000 people annually, coinciding with a home Mississippi State University football game and tailgating. I wasn’t able to attend the daytime portion of this event; but I understand it is extremely family friendly, featuring a market and delicious food vendors. I’m sure that would have added a notch to my blog…and my pocketbook…and probably waistline. If there’s one thing I know about the Southeastern United States, it’s that Southerners know how to cook. The way I match wits with that is that I know how to eat. ‘Nuff said.
However, the most touted component of this cultural football festival is at night–the largest free outdoor concert event in the entire state of Mississippi. Its popularity is magnified by annually hosting awesome acts ranging from
Flo Rida and Jason Mraz to The Black Crowes and Eric Church. Eclectic mix? Yes. But also major names in the music industry; and I’m sure, no small feat to land as a headline act each year. The fact that a small town of 25,000 has grown a free event that attracts these kinds of bands each year is immensely impressive.
Cancel Flo Rida? Make a Friend!
I wasn’t super upset about Flo Rida’s cancelation since A) the Bulldog Bash concert is free; and B) that was the first time a major artist cancelled his/her appearance at a concert I attended. The two bands I did see, Rock Eupora and Pell, rocked the joint. And the crowd size was as advertised. Prepare to walk to get to the festival grounds. Ladies, go ahead and wear your heels if you want; I’m bringing cute ‘n’ cushy flat sandals or sneakers!
The Bulldog Bash ended around 10:00 p.m. instead of 11:00-11:30 p.m. as we all expected. And this is where sneakers came in handy. Have you ever been packed into a crowd and felt like a sardine trying to swim your way out of a tin can? How about an unending 15 minutes of that? The exodus wasn’t quite an exodus because many in the crowd merely stopped at the restaurants and bars flanking the Cotton District to create a logjam. And so you need to basically be a bulldog (get it?!) and bash (double get it?!) your way through until you have some semblance of breathing room.
Feel free to gasp for air at that point. People may think you’re having a moment and need a beer. You might. Or, if you’re tall like me, they may thank you for busting a Panama Canal-like separation of people to be their savior. I experienced the second of those two options in meeting an awesome couple from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. (One of whom just recently decided she wanted to explore being a travel blogger. Serendipity, I know you by name. And you need to happen, oh let’s say, daily in my life.) I can think of no better late night than chatting with new friends in the middle of the street. And then moving the party to a local dive bar on their suggestion.
Dave’s Dark Horse Tavern Was Wicked Fun
We arrived at Dave’s Dark Horse Tavern which basically looks like a shanty trying to hold a candle to the next door Red Roof Inn from the exterior. Don’t let that fool you; the good times are rolling inside. A $5.00 cover charge nets you amazing music, bountiful liquor, people who love to have fun, and the opportunity to order from a please-don’t-tell-me-the-calorie-count menu. My friends snatched a high table and three stools, and we perched like hawks zeroing in on our prey–the eclectic indie rock band performing at center stage. The lead musician did more than just sing in playing the keyboard, sitar, and other instruments. Did I just write sitar? Yes. Yes, I did. For a sample of the music, make sure to watch my accompanying video. This group could legitimately play in Nashville, Tennessee which is a high compliment. The lead singer had a costume change while performing, and classily pulling that off at a joint like this scores major cred points.
While you’re enjoying the tunage, do yourself a favor (and a flavor) and order something off the menu. Anything. I mean it. The bacon cheese fries with its lactose-bending mozzarella and cheddar cheese goo combo alone will make you love life in a way that causes cardiologists to have nightmares haunted by the Bogeyman Chef who created this devilishly good dish. No, I’m not exaggerating because goo cannot be exaggerated. Trust me. I’m a blogger. If cheese fries aren’t your cup of goo, feel free to select from the litany of other menu items ranging from deep dish pizza to gyros. There’s something for everyone; make sure you don’t cheat yourself out of their grub.
Sadly, the band jammed so mightily that our party had some difficulty conversing. The space is fairly intimate despite having sections for pool/games, a bar, and the band. The music carries well so come for the music and food but not necessarily to have a great conversation.
Breaking Ranks & Heading For Bed
My new friends and I parted ways, and I left Dave’s and the Bulldog Bash with a pool of mixed feelings that urged a little more celebrating. However, I had an early morning and limited sleep ahead with the time already past midnight. The Cotton District was still humming with activity, and I enjoyed my nighttime walk back to my car. I think it’s safe to say Starkville is a classic college town that packs a youthful punch. Prepare to party long into the night and make a new friend or two if that’s your thing! If not, an early night isn’t so bad…especially with an 11:00 a.m. kickoff for the game the next morning. Me? I think I’d pick the slightly late night. Just be kind while I stumble around aimlessly trying to wake up in the morning.