In the late 1950’s, fife and drum legend Otha Turner began hosting annual Labor Day picnics at his property in Gravel Springs, Mississippi. Turner would butcher and roast goat, pork, and fish, drawing neighbors with the smell of his cooking and the sounds of his fife and drum. The short film Otha Turner digs into the archives to take us back in time to Labor Day 1978.

Ava Lowrey, filmmaker, is the Pihakis Foodways Documentary Fellow at the Southern Foodways Alliance. Visit the SFA website and Ava’s website to see more of her work.

The film uses archival footage from the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Used courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity. Archival Oral History Interviews from the William R. Ferris Collection, Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Used courtesy of William Ferris.