This Mississippi Delta city has high hopes - and a good chance - of becoming a Woodstock South each autumn.

For one weekend each of the past 11 Septembers, fans and musicians have flocked to this Mississippi River city to pay tribute to the Delta music form known simply as the blues.The tribute doesn't take much - just about 12 hours, a large field, several instruments, some great musicians and about 20,000 fans.

But, as anyone who attends the annual Delta Blues Festival will tell you, it's Mississippi where the blues come home, and the true-blue blues fan comes home every fall. That includes the true blues musician.

The festival may be a homecoming for these soulful players, but it's also a chance to gain some exposure, greet a few fans, and, in the words of Betty Lewis, performing at her first blues festival, "have a whole lot of fun."

Lewis kicked off this year's 11th annual Delta Blues Festival at the pre-festival show. The show is sponsored primarily by the Mississippi Action for Community Education, Inc. and the Delta Arts Project to help expose more people to a genuinely Southern brand of music.

Besides the music, the festival lends spirit to the predominantly black Greenville, a community of 50,000.

"The festival attempts to address the quality of life of poor and black people in the Delta," Delta Arts Project Director Malcolm Walls says. "The cultural development is as important as the economic development. It's the glue and fiber that hold everything together.

"I'd like to see it become more of a production. People need to come here every weekend."

The festival's roots go back to 1977, when 2,500 blues-lovers flocked to the Delta to celebrate the birthplace of the now universally loved music.