DelFest, honoring the life of Del Rendon, will feature local artists and art

The spirit of Del Rendon lives on through the DelFest. The Del Rendon Foundation, founded by family and friends of Rendon, sponsors the event to support local and regional artists

DelFest, one of the largest locally produced musical festivals in the Golden Triangle area, will be held at Dave's Dark Horse Tavern on April 16.

The event will feature 28 local and regional musicians, bands and art vendors. Art vendors will set up outside of the pub at 3 p.m. Live music will begin at 5 p.m.

The festival began as a celebration of the life and legacy of Del Rendon, a Starkville native whose rock and blues music echoed throughout the southeastern U.S. Family and friends of Rendon formed the Del Rendon Foundation in 2006 after his sudden death on Sept. 4, 2005. The foundation maintains Rendon's love for the arts and his community by supporting and raising awareness for local and regional artists.

"They have created a wonderful scholarship for art students at Mississippi State University," said Joe MacGown, a local artist and part-time entomologist at Mississippi State University. "Almost every art and music event in Starkville is supported by the foundation in some way."

Over the years, the foundation has sponsored the Cotton District Art Festival Songwriter Showcase and regularly supports the Children's Art in the Park event. The foundation has given over $100,000 for its art scholarship and continues supporting Starkville by raising money for these events with Delfest.

Dave Hood, owner of Dave's Dark Horse Tavern, said he is a prominent supporter of the music scene in Starkville. He shares the same love for music Rendon had by allowing local bands and musicians to perform on the Del Rendon Stage every night. He also shares this same love by supporting Delfest every year, he said.

"Del was a cornerstone of a strong Starkville music scene," Hood said. "With that in mind, we try and showcase local veterans as well as get some newer acts in front of a bigger crowd at Delfest."

At this year's Delfest, an artist village, featuring artists selling their unique works, will set up outside at the tavern's picnic table area. It will be the first big showcasing of local artists directly before the event.

MacGowan, who selected many of the artists featured in the village, shared why he chose many of the artists.

"Del was an interesting artist, so we try having some fun stuff going on that's a little different," MacGowan said. "We are not going to have like paintings of flowers necessarily ... it will be a little weird. But that's on purpose."

The festival also provides an opportunity for Starkville residents to witness the growing music scene in the area. Joe Evans, the percussionist of the acoustic cover duo Sugar High, is performing at the festival. He explained how the music scene in the area has changed over the last few years.

"There used to be a huge music scene here, and I think that's resurging right now," Evans said. "There was a little while where there wasn't as much going on, but it seems like the pandemic was a little incubator."

Evans, who is a Starkville native, has been in the music scene in Starkville since he joined his first band at age 15. He said the music scene in Starkville is full of camaraderie that one cannot find anywhere else.

"The musicians around here know and respect each other for the most part," Evans said. "It's a real 'we all have to stick together' sort of attitude, and I think that's great."

New and old musicians and artists will have the opportunity to grow in the area during Delfest, Hood said.

"Delfest always brings a fun and diverse crowd including families with youngsters to old folks like me," Hood said. "There's something for everyone with each act featuring one of Del's original songs."

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