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SUMMER VACATION EDITION

tourism, meetings & conventions in Mississippi Spring 2014

STATE’S BEST GOLF COURSES » Former sports editor Rusty Hampton and his expert panel rate Mississippi

What happened to the 2,616 residents of Rocky Springs?

Follow the Tamale Trail

International Ballet returns to Jackson


CONTENTS EDITION SUMMER VACATION

tourism, meetings & conventions in Mississippi Spring 2014

STATE’S BEST GOLF COURSES

» Former sports editor Rusty Hampton and his expert panel rate Mississippi

to What happened ents the 2,000 resid of Rocky Springs?

International Ballet returns to Jackson

Follow the Tamale Trail

»The cover

WHAT’S INSIDE 5 Our favorite courses

28 State Parks

Mississippians have more golfing options than ever before — including courses that are fit for professional tournaments. Our expert panel tells which ones it thinks are best.

Tishomingo State Park has natural beauty unlike anywhere else in Mississippi — and it’s a great place to vacation.

31 Ballet is back

16 Tamale trail When most people think of tamales, they think of the Southwestern United States or Mexico, but in Mississippi, folks think of Greenville.

Mississippians love their golf, and “Come See Us” rates the top courses in the Magnolia State with the help of former sports editor Rusty Hampton and his panel of experts.

19 Fitness

Photo credits: Old Waverly courtesy of Mississippi Development Authority; International Ballet courtesy of Richard Finkelstein; Rocky Springs United Methodist Church by Frank Brown of the MBJ and Tamale Trail photo is from the MBJ files.

22 Trace’s hidden gem

Don’t let a vacation through Mississippi derail your fitness plan. Our fitness columnist Melinda Duffie makes suggestions on how to stay in shape while enjoying food and travel.

In 1860, Rocky Springs had a population of 2,616 and was a popular stop along the Natchez Trace. Today, it’s a ghost town and a popular tourist stop on the Trace. We’ll explain what led to its downfall.

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Every four years the International Ballet Competition stops in Jackson. It begins June 14.

34 Natchez The Grand Hotel in Natchez opened in 2008 and is in the heart of the city’s historic district.

36 Conventions Tourism is big business in the state and attracting conventions is a major emphasis.

38 Casinos Mississippi casinos are a major toursim draw, and soon there will be two more options on the coast.

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CONTRIBUTORS » LISA MONTI: Lisa Monti is a freelance writer/

photographer/blogger in Bay St. Louis. A USM grad, she has hosted a radio show and co-written a travel book about Mississippi. Most recently, her work for Success Magazine was recognized in min’s Editorial and Design Awards for “excellence in content and design among consumer and b-to-b media brands.”

» LYNN LOFTON: A freelance writer living in Gulfport, Lynn Lofton is an honor graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where she wrote for the Student Printz and was editor of the Communication Journal. She has 40 years of writing and public relations experience.

» BECKY GILLETTE: A free-lance writer\photographer whose work has been published in about 50 magazines and newspapers nationwide, Becky Gillette’s articles have appeared in Ladies Home Journal, Organic Gardening, Utne Reader, E, The Environmental Magazine, Builder, BioScience, In Business, Mississippi Business Journal and Furrow. She received the 2008 Special Achievement Award from Sierra Club for work done to expose formaldehyde poisoning in FEMA trailers and other buildings. She was named Mississippi 2008 Small Business Journalist of the Year by the Small Business Administration.

» MELINDA DUFFIE: A personal trainer in the Jackson area, Melinda Duffie has been writing about the fitness industry for many years, including in multiple publications across Mississippi.

MBJ STAFF ALAN TURNER Publisher alan.turner@msbusiness.com

TED CARTER Staff Writer ted.carter@msbusiness.com

TACY RAYBURN Production Manager tacy.rayburn@msbusiness.com

ROSS REILY Editor ross.reily@msbusiness.com

TAMI JONES Advertising Director tami.jones@msbusiness.com

FRANK BROWN Staff Writer/Special Projects frank.brown@msbusiness.com

MELISSA KILLINGSWORTH Account Executive melissa.harrison@ msbusiness.com

CHARINA RHODES Administrative Assistant charina.rhodes@ msbusiness.com

WALLY NORTHWAY Senior Writer wally.northway@msbusiness.com

VIRGINIA HODGES Account Executive virginia.hodges@msbusiness.com

MARCIA THOMPSON-KELLY Business Assistant marcia.kelly@msbusiness.com Subscription Services (800) 451-9998

CORPORATE TEAM BUILDING. RETREATS. BOARD MEETINGS.

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the alluvian spa

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318 Howard Street Greenwood, Mississippi 38930 662.453.2114 866.600.5201 thealluvian.com

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’COME SEE US’


GOLF MISSISSIPPI

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Our fifth annual

Best Golf Courses in Mississippi Tour the courses, pages 6-15

Leigh Brannan

Tommy Snell

Lou Hart

PGA.com

Rusty Hampton and a panel of experts selected the seven best golf courses in Mississippi. The panel consists of Jim Gallagher Jr. (above) of Greenwood, Leigh Brannan of Canton, Tommy Snell of Gulfport, Lou Hart of Meridian and Lan Gooch (not pictured) of Fulton.

Former sports editor and experts rate state’s options ISSISSIPPIANS have more golf options than ever, from private clubs in the bigger cities to casino-sponsored resort courses that have sprung up on the Coast and in the Delta. Because I covered golf for many years as a reporter and then sports editor for The Clarion-Ledger, the editors at Mississippi Business Journal asked me to rate the courses in the state for their fifth annual “7 Best Golf Courses in Mississippi.” I, in turn, asked for a little help, forming a five-member panel of Mississippi experts who combined have 200-plus years of golfing experience. Our panel starts with Jim Gallagher Jr., a five-time PGA Tour winner and former Ryder Cup player who now plays on the Champions Tour and lives in Greenwood. Lou Hart of Meridian is a

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former long-time community college coach who has won nine Mississippi Women’s Amateur championships. Lan Gooch of Fulton, now the pro at Natchez Trace Golf Club, played many Rusty Hampton years on golf’s minor covered golf for league tours and had a many years as sports two-year stay on the editor of The ClarPGA Tour. Leigh Branion-Ledger nan of Canton is a semiretired club pro who won the Mississippi Amateur and the Mississippi Open. And Tommy Snell of Gulfport is the long-time coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and a veteran rules official and Golf Digest panelist who has officiated at a U.S. Women’s Open, a U.S. Junior

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions

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Championship and the past 10 NCAA Division I national championships. Each was asked to rate the courses of Mississippi in a variety of categories, from something as all-encompassing as best all-around golf experience to something as specific as best location, most scenic or toughest test of golf. With their input, I compiled a list of courses to visit and play. The only choice listed here that was unanimous among our selectors was that of Old Waverly as best all-around golf experience in the state. I don’t expect everyone to agree with every choice on a list like this, but I think there’s one thing we can all agree on, and that’s the fact that Mississippi has never had as many varied and excellent golfing opportunities to enjoy as it does today. – Rusty Hampton

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

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BEST OVERALL EXPERIENCE

Old Waverly Golf Club West Point

‘A place like no other in Mississippi’ pions Tour golfer Jim Gallagher Jr. puts it. Said Lou Hart of Meridian: “The staff there really adds to the golf experience.” Top women’s golf will return to Old Waverly Sept. 24-27, when the course plays host to the ISPS Handa Cup, an international Legends Tour competition pitting 12 U.S.-born players against 12 international players. The event, for players age 45 and up, has showcased such Hall of Famers as Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Patty Year opened: 1988 Sheehan and Beth Daniel in Designers: Jerry Pate and Bob Cupp the past. Dues: Not available And next spring, one of the Greens fees: With member, week days most prestigious amateur $88; weekends $98 tournaments in the nation, Yardage: 7,088 yards from back tee the Southern Amateur, will Par: 72 be played at Old Waverly. While events of that magnitude bring attention to the course, the staff is content with providing the best golfing experience possible for its members and guests. Said Chris Jester, Old Waverly’s general manager: “Our goal, day-in and day-out, is to provide our members and guests with a world-class golf experience.”

Old Waverly Golf Club

– Rusty Hampton

Photos courtesy of Old Waverly

Those who have played Old Waverly Golf Club will attest to the beauty and tenacity of the 18th hole, a seductive 445-yard par-4 that is guarded by water and framed by the majestic clubhouse that rises behind the green. But they’ll also tell you there’s a whole lot more to this 26-year-old course in rural northeast Mississippi than just a doozy of a finishing hole. Old Waverly, says former PGA golfer Lan Gooch, “Is a place like no other in Mississippi. “The beauty, the attention to details, and the accommodating staff make for a great day no matter how you play. The course is always immaculate, always a challenge and constantly improving.” Owned by the Bryan family, the course outside West Point has been a hit since it opened in 1988 and soon made its way onto Golf Digest’s list of America’s top 100 courses. Last year, after Waverly recently became a semi-private club, it was ranked 35th on Golf Digest’s list of the country’s top 100 public courses. Old Waverly hosted the world’s best players in 1999 for the U.S. Women’s Open and attracts golfers from around the state and region regularly. On-site cottages are perfect for play-and-stay package deals, and regardless of how they play, golfers come away impressed by the course and staff round after round. “Overall relaxing true golf experience,” is how Cham-

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Spring 2014

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

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WHERE THE PROS PLAY

The Annandale Golf Club

Photo courtesy of Mississippi Development Authority

Madison

PGA players make their stop in November There are some 18,000 golf courses in the United States but only about 40 of them will have the privilege this year of playing host to the world’s top golfers in a PGA Tour event. And one is right here in Mississippi. Annandale Golf Club in Madison is where the PGA Tour pros play. From big names to rising stars, Annnandale has hosted Mississippi’s top professional sporting event annually since 1994. While the private course restricts play to members and their guests, golf fans can get an upclose look at the course — and some of golf’s top talent — during the $4 million Sanderson Farms Championship that is scheduled for Nov. 6-9. Opened in 1981 and designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Annandale is a relatively flat, finely manicured and challenging course. The fairways are fairly wide, but the Bermuda rough can be brutal if you don’t drive it straight. A switch from bent grass to Bermuda greens in 2006 allows the golf course staff to keep the greens in

The Annandale Golf Club Year opened: 1981 Designer: Jack Nicklaus Dues: Private club Greens fees: Private club Yardage: 7,177 yards Par: 72

premier shape and at championship speed year-round. Before the switch, the Tour pros would rave about Annandale’s lush Bermuda fairways but weren’t so happy with bent grass greens. Since the switch, the pros talk more about how good the greens are than they do about the fairways. “There aren’t any weak holes on the golf course,” said Benji Nelson, an Annandale member who rates the 220yard par-3 No. 2 hole as “one of the hardest par 3s in the state.” Woody Austin won last year’s Sanderson Farms Championship, shooting 20-under par and then beat-

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions

Spring 2014

ing Daniel Summerhays and Cameron Beckman in a playoff, making birdie on the par-5 18th hole, a great finishing hole that has water in play off the tee and in front of the green. Fans love to sit behind the 18th green during tournament week and watch the fireworks. Many of the pros can reach the green in two shots, setting up eagle putts. Those who aren’t in position off the tee to get home in two will lay up and then take aim at the pin with deadly wedge shots. Nothing gets the crowd fired up quite like a crisply struck 90-yard shot that lands 20 feet past the hole, hops forward and then zips backwards to nip at the cup. Occasionally, one finds the hole, bringing a roar from the crowd. “The best players in the world are able to shoot 16-20 under par because the greens are perfect and the winner isn’t hitting it in the rough off the tee,” said Nelson. For tickets, or sponsor information, for this year’s Sanderson Farms Classic, call 601-856-3882. – Rusty Hampton

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

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MOST SCENIC COURSE

Dancing Rabbit Golf Club Philadelphia Photos courtesy of Pearl River Resorts

A natural beauty, especially in the spring In the spring, when the dogwoods and azaleas are at full bloom, there isn’t a more scenic golf experience in Mississippi than the Azaleas Course at Dancing Rabbit Golf Club at Pearl River Resort near Philadelphia. Cut into the pine trees of the red clay hills of Central Mississippi, Dancing Rabbit offers 36 holes of championship golf, with the Azaleas and Oaks courses. While designers Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate did a magnificent job of using natural terrain for many of the holes, manmade water falls and rock formations just add to the beauty. And in the spring, there’s plenty to look at. “We were very fortunate last year to have color on the course every day in April,” said Mark Powell, Dancing Rabbit’s director of golf. “The comments I

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Dancing Rabbit Golf Club Year opened: Azaleas: 1997; Oaks: 1999 Designers: Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate Dues: No available Greens fees: $75-$120 Yardage: Azaleas: 7,128 yards; Oaks: 7,076 yards Par: Both Par 72;

hear from guests are about the beautiful flowers, the water features and the magnificent trees that abound on both golf courses.” One of the most interesting features of Dancing Rabbit is just how diverse the two courses are. The Azaleas has bent grass greens, Bermuda fairways, many meandering creeks and a more wooded feel — with,

Spring 2014

of course, plenty of stunning azaleas. The Oaks has Bermuda greens, Zoysia fairways, several water features and a more open feel. In June, the Azaleas will play host to the Mississippi Amateur for the third time. Powell said his staff has been preparing since August to have the course “in pristine shape” for the tournament. Powell said most of Dancing Rabbit’s spring play comes from outside Mississippi. “Locals play a lot in the summer to take advantage of our local specials and we have a good mix of play in the fall and winter,” he said. Owned and operated by the Choctaw Indian Tribe, Dancing Rabbit offers stayand-play package deals with the nearby Pearl River Resort hotels and casinos, Golden Moon and Silver Star. – Rusty Hampton

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

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BEST PUBLIC COURSE

Shell Landing Golf Club Gautier

Photo courtesy of Shell Landing

Course, staff strive to make you feel at home Whether you drive 30 minutes or 20 hours to get there, the management at Shell Landing Golf Course wants you to feel at home when you arrive. “We are a great golf facility at a great value,” said Allan Walker, Shell Landing’s head golf pro. “We sincerely believe that if you enjoy your day with us, you will tell others, and that is what has happened and allowed us to grow.” Designed by PGA Tour star Davis Love III and opened in 2000, the course in Gautier tops our list of public facilities in the state. The combination of a challenging layout, beautiful views and a first-class staff gives Shell Landing what Champions Tour golfer Jim Gallagher Jr. calls “a private course feel with public access.” Kenny Hughes, the Shell Landing CEO, was one of four local businessmen who purchased the course in 2012. The quartet pumped money into improvements, improving course conditions and the golfing atmosphere. The diverse terrain adds to the experience. Cut through pines, rolling hills, bayous and marshland, the course offers a different view on

Shell Landing Golf Club Year opened: 2000 Designers: Davis Love III Dues: $299-$1,980 annually Greens fees: $35-$99. Yardage: 7,024 yards Par: 72

nearly every hole. Large, undulating greens allow for plenty of pin placements, and a first-class practice facility backed by a staff that includes three PGA professionals with a combined 76 years of experience can make any golfer feel pampered. Hughes said Shell Landing gets plenty of winter play from nonMississippians, snowbirders from the North looking for a warm place to land. “This year we included lunch and free replay into our package and retail rates,” said Hughes. “That increased our play immediately and the customers appreciate the added value.” Located a short drive from the Coast casinos, Shell Landing offers package deals with area hotels and its nearby sister course, Hickory Hills Country Club. – Rusty Hampton Photos courtesy of Mississippi Development Authority

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

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TOUGHEST TEST

Laurel Country Club Laurel

Adjustments make course a monster again A plethora of new golf courses have been built in Mississippi over the last two decades, but one that opened nearly 100 years ago has stood the test of time and technology and still rates as one of the most difficult tests of golf in the state. The Laurel County Club course was designed by Seymour Dunn and opened in 1919. A recent renovation added new tee boxes and some 300 yards of length, bringing the par-72 course to nearly 7,000 yards from the tips. That’s still not long by today’s standards, given how equipment innovations are making some courses nearly obsolete, but Dunn’s design, combined with fast, smallish greens, well-placed bunkers and plenty of elevation changes, makes Laurel one demanding course for golf purists. Among our panelists, Brannan was the most adamant. “Laurel, by far,” he wrote in the category of “Toughest Test of Golf.” Benji Nelson of Madison, who shot 8-under-par 280 over 72 holes to win the 1995 Mississippi Amateur at Laurel, said he played the best golf of his life over those four days. He won by five shots and third place was 12 shots back, meaning only two players in a field of more than 100 broke par. Nelson, 44, said recently that time has changed his perspective about Laurel. “I have a much deeper respect for

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Photos courtesy of Laurel Country Club

Laurel Country Club Year course opened: 1919 Designer: Seymour Dunn Dues: Not released Greens fees: Private course Yardage: Almost 6,968 yards Par: 70

the golf course now than I did as a 25-year-old,” Nelson said. “The fact that Seymour Dunn came over here in 1919, moved very little dirt with primitive equipment and was able to design a golf course with shot values and a degree of difficulty that still stands up to today’s players is absolutely amazing to me.” Nelson said one key to a good round at Laurel is hitting tee shots the right length to avoid awkward uphill or downhill approach shots. That gives you a better chance to reach the green, because if you don’t, well… “The greens are relatively small and severely sloped on the sides. If you miss a green, you are going to be really challenged to save par.” Jim Dorman, the Laurel pro, said the recent renovations have helped

Spring 2014

the course keep up with technology. Instead of flying 9-irons onto greens, players now might be trying to bounce 4-irons into some holes, which is more in tune with Dunn’s thinking a century ago. The decision to renovate was made, in part, after Mississippi State golf coach Clay Homan, a four-time State Am champion, blistered the course during the 2010 Mississippi Mid-Amateur, shooting 16-under par. The course set-up was not difficult, said Dorman. But still, that was the wakeup call the Laurel membership needed to put a little bite back into the course. “We didn’t just arbitrarily add length,” Dorman said. “We added length to return the golf course to how it was meant to be played.” Last summer (with two par-5s converted to par-4s, making the par 70), the winning score in the Mississippi Open was 2-over par. “Playing this golf course, it makes you a better player,” Dorman said. “After you’ve played here, where ever you go, you can carry your game anywhere you want to play.” – Rusty Hampton

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

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BEST CASINO COURSE

Fallen Oak Saucier

Photos courtesy of Mississippi Development Authority

It’s about service, so prepare for pampering Golf in Mississippi doesn’t get much better than Fallen Oak, the Tom Fazio-designed course in Gautier that opened in 2006 and is listed as the 16th-best resort course in the country for 2014 by Golf Digest. Built by MGM Mirage as a place to play for guests of the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Fallen Oak is billed as the exclusive course for guests of the resort. Take the limousine service from the resort and after a 15-mile ride be prepared to be pampered from the moment you arrive. From shoe service to a locker with your name on it, a personal caddy and a 19th hole ranked among the best the country, the course is all about service. As for the golf, challenging, pristine and beautiful come to mind. “When you play a round of golf at Fallen Oak, our goal is to give you a complete high-end private club feeling,” said general manager David Stinson. “From the time you arrive, until the time you depart, our team is dedicated to caring for your every need. We want Fallen Oak to leave an indelible impression in our guest’s mind for a lifetime.” Built on some 500 acres adjacent to the DeSoto National Forest, Fallen Oak is a true get-away destination, void of houses and filled with wildlife. Champions Tour player Paul

Fallen Oak Golf Course Year opened: 2006 Designer: Tom Fazio Dues: Exclusive to guests of Beau Rivage Resort and Casino. Yardage: 7,487 yards Par: 72

Azinger says the “gnarly” bunkers give the course bite, but it might be hard to concentrate on just golf. “I was amazed at how beautiful it was,” says Azinger in a video posted on Fallen Oak’s website. In March, the Champions Tour (the PGA Tour’s circuit for players age 50 and up), made its fifth appearance at Fallen Oak in the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic Presented by C Spire. At some 7,400 yards, the course can be extremely difficult even for the world’s top players. But with an assortment of tee boxes, even high handicappers can find a setup that fits their game and affords for a fun outing. “As Fallen Oak evolves, it takes on a vastly different look than it did five years ago,” Stinson said in a news release. “As is with most things, Fallen Oak has only become better with age.”

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions

– Rusty Hampton

Spring 2014

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

Grand Bea

r

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BEST PLACE FOR A COURSE

‘Anywhere on the Gulf Coast’ nce Winda

Coast and its courses have bounced back from Katrina Forgive panelist Tommy Snell if he’s a bit biased, but the Perkinston resident is bullish on golf on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Like many other things on the Coast, golf courses were damaged and/or nearly destroyed when Hurricane Katrina roared ashore on Aug. 29, 2005. The golfing industry took a huge hit. But as much of the Coast has rebounded or is in the process of doing so, golf has bounced back, too. “Golf on the Mississippi Gulf coast has left Katrina and the recession in its wake,” said Snell. “People are flooding to the courses because the recognize the quality of golf and the value for that excellence.” When our panel answered the question of “Best Place for Golf in Mississippi,” several replied: “Anywhere on the Gulf Coast.” That’s music to the ears of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Golf Association, www.golfcoast.com, a non-profit organization that promotes golf in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. There are more than a dozen golf courses in a 60-mile stretch, several with ocean views and all within a short drive of the Gulf Coast hotels, casinos, fishing and restaurants. The Gulf Coast’s moderate winters make it another option for Northern golfers looking for a place to get out of the cold and play golf at several different courses in one trip.

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The website features 10 courses: Diamondhead (Cardinal and Pine courses), the Jack Nicklaus-designed Grand Bear in Saucier, Great Southern in Gulfport (Mississippi’s oldest course, and a Donald Ross layout), Hickory Hill in Gautier, Shell Landing in Gautier, Sunkist in Biloxi, The Bridges Golf Club at Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis, The Oaks in Pass Christian, the Preserve in Van Cleave and Windance in Gulfport. Fallen Oak in Saucier is not on the website but is another Coast favorite for guests of the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino. In the last 20 years, said Snell, the addition of The Bridges, Grand Bear, Shell Landing, The Oaks, The Preserve and Fallen Oaks, along with renovations at Great Southern, Windance and Hickory Hill, “have elevated the Mississippi Gulf Coast to one of the top golf destinations in the United States.” In choosing the Gulf Coast as a top location for golf in the state, Champions Tour golfer Jim Gallagher Jr. said, simply: “There’s more activities than anywhere else.” Says Snell: “For golfers, it’s a buffet of manicured Bermuda, Southern hospitality and warm scenery.” – Rusty Hampton

Spring 2014

The Preserve

DA y of M ourtes c s o t Pho aks

The O ’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions


GOLF MISSISSIPPI

Best of the rest

PLANNED COMMUNITY GOLF AT ITS FINEST Reunion Golf & Country Club, Madison Located in the heart of one of the largest master-planned communities in the state, Reunion opened in 2005 and has already played host to the Mississippi Amateur championship twice, in 2007 and 2012. Bob Cupp designed this private course in suburban Jackson. The layout is superb but what can really make Reunion a tough test of golf is the large, undulating and lightning-fast greens.

HIDDEN GEM Hattiesburg Country Club Home to Mississippi’s PGA Tour event from its inception in 1968 through 1993, Hattiesburg CC has fallen off the radar for some — but shouldn’t. Some Mississippi golfers say Hattiesburg has the truest greens in Mississippi, and although Hurricane Katrina took out hundreds of pine trees, the course still lives up to its nickname of “Ricochet Country Club,” making it a premier test of golf. Keep it in the fairway and you can score. Hit it sideways and listen for the tell-tale sound that you’ve located yet another of the Piney Woods Region’s namesake trees.

Quail Hollow

Tunica National BEST DELTA COURSE Greenwood Country Club Clarksdale Country Club Tunica National Greenwood Country Club (1927) and Clarksdale Country Club (1921) are two of the oldest country clubs in Mississippi and the courses have stood the test of time. In the new-school category is Tunica National, a Mark McCumber-designed course that opened in 2004 in Robinsonville, near Tunica’s casino row. In 2011, the course hosted a prestigious U.S. Open qualifier event.

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions

BEST STATE PARK COURSES Mallard Pointe, Sardis The Dogwoods, Grenada Lefleur’s Bluff, Jackson Quail Hollow, McComb Mississippians and out-of-state visitors have four State Parks courses to choose from, each conveniently located near I-55, ranging from Mallard Pointe in north Mississippi to Quail Hollow in southwest Mississippi, near the Louisiana line. Mallard Pointe, The Dogwoods and Quail Hollow are 18hole layouts. LeFleur’s Bluff is a nine-hole course in the heart of Jackson. Each of the courses offers a mix of challenging layouts, rolling hills, elevation changes and beautiful scenery — at a very affordable price. Spring 2014

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

TOP PRO SHOP

Country Club of Jackson The Country Club of Jackson is celebrating its 100-year anniversary, but there’s nothing old school about the pro shop at the state’s largest private country club. In 2009, the club in northeast Jackson underwent a major renovation that included the addition of a new dualpurpose building adjoining the sprawling clubhouse. The bottom half of the building is for cart storage. On top, sitting high on a hill overlooking the massive new practice area and the club’s Dogwood-Azalea Course, is the pro shop. At 2,100 square feet, it’s one of the biggest, most well-stocked oncourse pro shops in the state. CCJ head professional Jason Prendergast, who runs the pro shop, was involved in the design of the new building and is in charge of keeping it stocked and running. He carries all the major brands of balls and equipment, including Ti-

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tleist, Callaway, Cobra, Taylor Made and Ping. His top-selling clothing and shoe lines are FootJoy and Nike, but he carries a wide variety of other goods because he has learned to stock what the customer wants. “One of my mentors told me long ago to allow your pro shop identity to create itself and that’s what I’ve tried to do,” said Prendergast. “I find myself spending a lot of time paying attention what people wear.” One trend he’s seen is that businessmen are buying more dual-purpose golf attire, especially shirts that are functional on the course but look fine under a sports coat for business or lunch. That’s why he stocks such brands as Fairway & Greene and Polo, and even devotes a small section of his pro shop to upscale clothier Brooks Brothers. In 2009, Prendergast was voted by his peers as the Merchandiser of the Year for the PGA of America Gulf States

Spring 2014

Courtesy Country Club of Jackson

Jason Prendergast is head professional at CCJ. Section, which encompasses Mississippi and Louisiana. The award is based partly on sales but also takes into account atmosphere and service. Prendergast says having such a large pro shop enables him to stock a large selection and also allows him to try new brands and alter his displays and the look of his pro shop often. “It’s very important to bring new items in and to change things up,” said Prendergast. – Rusty Hampton

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

TOP TEACHING PRO

TOP 19TH HOLE

V.J. Trolio, Old Waverly

Fallen Oak, Saucier

When some professional golfers make the trek to tiny West Point, Miss., it’s not just to play 18 holes at the splendid Old Waverly Golf Club but to seek advice from V.J. Trolio, the top golf teacher in Mississippi. Trolio runs the Old Waverly teaching center, along with Tim Yelverton. He has instructed hundreds of Mississippians and the occasional touring pro. As he says, “my clients span the spectrum, from beginner to Tour player.� Currently, he’s working with Champions Tour players Jim Gallagher Jr., and Brian Henninger, and Web.com Tour players Matt Fast, Jonathan Randolph and Carlos Sainz, along with top college players like Chad Ramey and Ally McDonald from Mississippi State. Trolio, 40, wrote a book on the art of teaching junior golf. He’s an ac-

complished player himself, having won the Mississippi Open in 2007, but he has carved a niche for himself in helping others improve their games. Trolio’s philosophy V.J. Trolio is to understand each person has a different physical makeup that affects the way they swing a golf club and it’s his job to figure out “what they actually can and should do. “There is no perfect swing, really,� he says. “There is only a perfect swing for a particular shot. Far too many players complicate the game by swinging this way or that way without really understanding what ‘this way’ or ‘that way’ will do to the shot.�

In 2013, Sports Illustrated’s golf.com website ranked the top 19 19th holes in the world and listed the bar at Fallen Oak as No. 6, behind Dunvegan Hotel and Lounge Bar at legendary St. Andrew’s in Scotland, and ahead of the bars at places like Pebble Beach and Pinehurst Resort. Who are we to argue? From a panoramic view behind the sunken bar, you can look out throw large windows and see the 18th hole, a beautiful lake and the namesake majestic Fallen Oak that guards the 18th fairway. Said Champions Tour golfer Jim Gallagher Jr.: “Fallen Oak has one of the coolest views.� Wrote Sports Illustrated: “Fallen Oak is a low-key, Old South treat.�

– Rusty Hampton

– Rusty Hampton

CONCERTS, SPORTING EVENTS, TRADE SHOWS, BANQUETS, WEDDINGS

“THE CENTER OF IT ALL�

                                           

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TAMALE TRAIL

Heart of the trail All roads along Tamale Trail led to Greenville By Becky Gillette OME FOLKS from out West might question how it is that Greenville is known as the Tamale Capital of the World. After all, generally areas of the Southwest and Mexico are better known for tamales. But there is a long history of hot tamales in the Mississippi Delta, where Mexican laborers working in cotton fields introduced the dish in the early 1900s. Historic references to the hot tamale include the song “Molly Man,” which was recorded by Red Hot Ole Mose in 1928, and the 1936 song, “They’re Red Hot,” by famous bluesman Robert Johnson. Greenville was proclaimed the Hot Tamale Capital of the World in 2012 by Greenville Mayor Chuck Jordan. In the proclamation, Jordan said a Delta-style tamale is smaller than a Latin-style tamale, is simmered instead of steamed, has a gritty texture from the use of corn meal instead of masa or corn flour, has considerably more spice, and is usually served with juice that is the byproduct of simmering. “The distinction of the Hot Tamale Capital of the World is not without evidence,” the city proclamation said. “According to Southern Foodways Alliance, Greenville has

S

more hot tamale restaurants/food stations than any other city in Mississippi. The Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail, a project of the Southern Foodways Alliance and Viking Corporation, notes the history of the hot tamale through documented oral histories archived on its website www.tamaletrail.com.” Greenville has a Hot Tamale Festival (www.hottamalefest.com) downtown that has attracted national attention in the form of articles in publications like the The New York Times and New Yorker magazine. The Hot Tamale Festival is an

idea that came out of a backyard party at Valerie Lee’s house where guests brought hot tamales from different sources in town, and then had a blind taste test. “It was so much fun that three of us decided the next day to make a festival out of this because hot tamales are so prominent,” Lee said. “We decided to hold it downtown at the Stein Mart Square. In 2012 the festival attracted 5,000 people, and we had 12,000 people attend the second year. It was amazing the people that came. We had people come from all over the U.S. People have already made reservations for

Doe’s Eat Place is one of Greenville’s more popular spots for tamales.

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TAMALE TRAIL

Learn more about the Tamale Trail at www.southernfoodways.org/ oral-history/hot-tamale-trail/

next year.” In addition to Lee, the other two “Hot-Ta-Mama” organizers behind the Hot Tamale Festival in the third weekend of October are Anne Martin and Main Street Greenville Director Betty Lynn Cameron. Cameron said the first one-day festival that attracted 24 contestants in the cooking competition was so popular that it was expanded to three days the second year. That year, writer Julia Reed, a Greenville native who is a contributor to Garden and Gun, Conde Nast Traveler, Elle Décor and Vogue, invited nationally known chefs and writers to a new offering coinciding with the festival, the LiteraryCulinary Mashup. Participants included W. Hodding Carter IV with Smithsonian, and Calvin Trillin with the New Yorker. “Fox News” provided coverage for all three days of the festival. “The Hot Tamale Festival has brought the community together,” Cameron said. “There is very diverse participation. I have learned through all this you can’t say hot tamale without smiling. The second year we had 36 contestants, including participants from Texas, Louisiana and Tennessee, in addition to Mississippi. Their tamales all taste different, and all have unique flavor. They range from tamales made with meat to all vegetarian, and even desert tamales. We had about 100 judges who came from all over the country. They had a

Courtesy Greenville Hot Tamale Festival

At Greenville’s Hot Tamale Festival, sometimes tamales will find you.

great time. It is just a great experience.” Even if you aren’t visiting the third weekend in October when the Hot Tamale Festival is held, you can still sample the unique Delta spin on hot tamales at a number of locations throughout Greenville. Some are restaurants and others are selling out of a home kitchen. Either way, you won’t go wrong unless you don’t like spicy.

WHERE TO GET TAMALES IN GREENVILLE » Jodie’s Hot Tamales (2013 festival winner), 662-822-0835. » Jefferson Tamales (2012 festival winner), 662-822-7915 » Hot Tamale King, 662-820-1738 » Ford’s Hot Tamales, 662-827-7225 » Katie’s Kitchen, 662-394-0632/662394-0635 » Momma’s Hot Tamales, 662-3797479 » Doe’s Tamales, 502 Nelson Street, 662-334-3315. » Hot Tamale Heaven, 614 South

Theobald, 662-378-3588. » Jack’s Hot Tamales, 1112 East Alexander Street, 662-335-6512. » Maria's Famous Hot Tamales, 605 Toni Street, 662-332-7847. » Ollie’s Tamales, 903 McKinley, Hollandale, 662827-5546 » Rick’s Express, 2309 Martin Luther King Boulevard South, 662-335-0226. » Scott’s Hot Tamales, 304 Martin Luther King Boulevard North, 662-332-4013. » Sho-Nuff Hot Tamales, sold from a mobile cart in Greenville, 662-931-1774.

Mississippi Business Journal file photo

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TAMALE TRAIL

There are stories behind those stops on the trail By Becky Gillette

Hot tamales aren’t just good to eat, but represent a rich Southern food tradition. That is why the Southern Foodways Alliance, which is part of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, has done oral history interviews with many of the businesses that have garnered a spot on the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail. Southern Foodways Alliance Oral Historian Amy C. Evans shares information about some of the top stops on the Hot Tamale Trail: » Hicks’ Famous Hot Tamales and More, 305 South State Street/U.S. 61, Clarksdale, (662) 624-9887. Eugene Hicks has been making hot tamales since 1960. He learned how to make them from Acy Ware, who peddled tamales on the streets of Clarksdale. In 1970, Hicks opened his first restaurant. The recipe has changed a bit over the years as he has experimented with different meats and spices. Hicks has never committed a recipe to writing, though. He works alone to cook and spice the meat, keeping the secrets to himself. What is no secret, though, are the custom devices and ingenious methods of production he has created. As a result, Hicks can produce 10 times the amount of hot tamales that could be made by hand. » Abe’s Bar-B-Q, 616 N. State St., Clarksdale, (662) 624-9947, http://www.abesbbq.com, Abe’s BarB-Q has been in business in the same location since 1937. Pat Davis Sr., remembers Mexican vendors peddling hot tamales in downtown Clarksdale when he was a kid. At the same time, Pat was helping his father, Lebaneseborn Abraham “Abe” Davis, make his own pork-filled tamales by hand in the kitchen of the family’s restaurant. Eventually, Pat talked his father into buying an extruder to make their tamale chores a little easier. Today, their tamales are contract manufactured according to Abe’s original recipe. The Davis family introduced the Tamaco, a green salad with tamales on top. It’s a whole new twist on the generations-old tradition of

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Tyler Rayburn / Mississippi Business Journal file photo

At Abe’s Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale, tables provide a taste of history along with a tasty hot tamale.

hot tamales. » Joe’s Hot Tamale Place (a.k.a — The White Front Café), 902 Main Street, Rosedale, (662) 759-3842. Joe Pope began selling hot tamales in Rosedale in the 1970s after a friend shared a recipe with him. The friend, John Hooks, got the recipe from a Mexican migrant sometime in the 1930s. A side-job at first, Joe’s Hot Tamale Place, also known as the White Front Café, became so popular that Joe made it a full-time business when he retired from his day job. Joe passed away in December of 2004, but his youngest sister, Barbara Pope, is still making his famous tamales. » Solly’s Hot Tamales, 1921 Washington St., Vicksburg, (601) 6362020. Solly’s Hot Tamales has been a Vicksburg tradition since 1939. Henry Solly, a native of Cuba, developed a recipe and began selling hot tamales from a pushcart. Eventually, his tamales got so popular that he retired the cart and opened a storefront. Solly made tamales at 1921 Washington Street until his death in 1992. The present owner, Jewel McCain, has continued the tradition, still making tamales according to Solly’s recipe. Spring 2014

They also now offer something called a “Fiesta” — the taco salad of the tamale world. » Delta Fast Food, 701 S. Davis Ave. at U.S. 61, Cleveland, (662) 846-8800. Gentle Lee Rainey was born on Dockery Plantation, a few miles east of Cleveland, Miss. Dockery, the one time home of Charlie Patton and Howlin’ Wolf, is widely considered the birthplace of the Blues. For Gentle Lee Rainey, it was the birthplace of the Delta hot tamale. Rainey’s grandfather began making his own version of this Delta delicacy, using corn shucks from the fields, in an effort to earn extra money on the weekends. Eventually, the entire Rainey family learned the art of tamale making. They would peddle their homemade bundles in the nearby town of Ruleville on Saturday nights. Today, Rainey owns and operates Delta Fast Food in Cleveland, where he has served hot tamales and other takeaway foods since 1995. He still makes his hot tamales from his grandfather’s recipe, but with a little added spice. Tastes may change, but this version of the Delta tamale has remained remarkably the same.

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FITNESS

You can survive vacation

D

O YOU STRUGGLE with continuing your exercise program and eating healthy when you are going on vacation? You are not alone! Most people find it difficult to integrate change into their schedule on a daily basis let alone when they travel. The propensity is to just not exercise or watch what you eat… don’t do that. Even if you have just started your exercise regimen or maybe you have had one in place for a while, you can still stay on track. There are several ways that you can exercise whether it be in a fitness facility, on outdoor trails, a pool, tennis courts or perhaps body weight or band exercises, just to name a few. Maybe you should consider trying something new. This can be a fun part of your vacaMelinda Duffie tion and make you feel good as well. It does require thinking outside the box, so to speak, and planning ahead. The easiest way to do this is starting with “where are you going on vacation?” Are you going to the beach, a spa hotel, the casino or camping, for example? Depending on the time of year there can be a lot of activities to choose from. If you are traveling as a family there are a lot of activities that can be experienced together even for the first time. Always have a contingency plan in place so if the weather doesn’t permit activity there is something else to do. Here are some helpful tips in planning your vacation: 1. Does your destination include a hotel, condo, RV park or house? Check out what activities and amenities there are available so planning is easier. Is there a fitness facility nearby, a pool or waterpark or trails? Special discounts may be available as businesses partner together to make your stay more appealing. 2. Be sure to check the local forecast for the time you are planning vacation. This is important so you can plan your activities and pack accordingly. Make a checklist of what you need to take. 3. Always check out reliable feedback on places to stay, restaurants and other businesses so you can make sure that your vacation is enjoyable. Friends and magazine reviews are usually very helpful. Be sure to make your reservations

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A TRAVEL WORKOUT Perform each exercise 1 set of 12 reps and repeat for a total of 3 sets resting only 15 seconds between each set: » Squats — Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, place your arms out front, begin movement by flexing your knees and hips, sitting back with your hips, sinking into your heels, continue down to full depth, if you are able, like you are going to sit in a chair squeezing your butt. Quickly reverse the motion until you return to the starting position. As you squat, keep your head and chest up. » Lunges — Arms by your sides, lunge forward with your right foot, keep your head up and back straight; this is your start position. Drop your left leg toward the floor by bending both knees, making sure your right knee doesn’t pass over the plane of your toes, sinking into the heel. Stop just short of your rear knee touching the ground as your front thigh comes parallel to the floor. Press back up forcing your bodyweight through the heel of your forward foot and complete reps on this side then switch to work the other. » Pushups — Begin in push up position, on knees or toes, push up through your palms, abs in and back straight. Push back up and repeat. » Superman — Lie on your stomach with arms and legs stretched out. Raise your arms and legs off the ground a few inches, hold a few seconds, and then lower. Alternate arms and legs as an option and repeat. » Abdominal crunches — Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your fingertips to the side of your head just behind your ears. Push your lower back into the floor flattening the arch and hold. Curl up slowly so both your shoulders lift off the floor a few inches. Hold for a count of 2 and return to the start position. ahead of time. Since you know where you are going and what you going to do on vacation, being prepared is the key to success here. Plan when and how you are going to work out. Remember if you can’t get out to the gym or outside activity use your contingent exercise plan just like the one I have outlined below. Take some foods with you that are healthy such as protein bars, fruit, nuts, and jerky. This makes it easy so you don’t go too long without food or having to grab unhealthy fast food. When you do eat out make healthier choices and if you do have heavy food just eat half of what you are served. You can ask for the lunch portion or just take your leftovers with you if you prefer. You can enjoy the food without being miserable and returning from vacation several pounds heavier. Melinda Duffie can be reached at mvpfit@yahoo.com.

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Express

Yourself

Collect. Create. Celebrate. In Ridgeland, the masterpieces are yours in an array of galleries, the Mississippi Craft Center, the state’s premier shopping centers and the great outdoors.

Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival April 5-6, 2014

800-468-6078 www.visitridgeland.com


Play

Well With Others

It’s the corporate olympics and you’re the winner. We work hard to make your successful meeting easy. From on-site registration to computerized name tags, we’ll take care of it all. Your delegates will find plenty of places to play. 62 miles of beach. World-class casino resorts. Mouthwatering dining experiences. Deep-sea fishing. Signature golf courses. And shopping in unique boutiques and factory outlets. Contact us now for a site tour. You may be eligible for financial incentives. And start planning to play your way on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Crystal Johnson Director of Sales MS Gulf Coast Regional CVB 888.467.4853 Ext. 215 P.O. Box 8298 Biloxi, MS 39535 www.gulfcoast.org

Play Your Way!


M ISSISSI PPI COAST CONVE NTION CE NTE R

The Mississippi Coast Convention Center features a new exhibit hall with unlimited floor capacity and seven private meeting rooms. The 34’ high exhibit hall boasts the latest in telecommunications, storage, food and beverage capabilities, and all the power any show will need. In the new 17,100 square foot West Lobby you’ll find a very special “niche” perfect for registration, continental breakfast, reception or just about anything a planner can think of. The entire facility is over 413,000 square feet and can handle convention groups of 6,000. Best of all, you’ll make the most of your attendees’ “break-times” when you choose to hold your meeting in the heart of one of the hottest and fastest growing resort destinations in the region! Visit our website for more information, then call us. We’re booking business right now, and our professional team is ready to go to work for you! Janice Jefferson Director of Sales & Marketing MS Coast Convention Center 228.594.3700 jjefferson@mscoastconventioncenter.com


NATCHEZ TRACE

In the footsteps of ghosts 22 www.msbusiness.com

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NATCHEZ TRACE

Meager remains of Rocky Springs a popular stop for Trace travelers By Becky Gillette

T

HERE IS SOMETHING intriguing about ghost towns, and Rocky Springs in Claiborne County is no exception. The town site off the Natchez Trace Parkway exit at mile marker 54.8 on the southern end of the Parkway is very popular with visitors. The ghost town is the center of a rural area that covered about 25 square miles. It was a cotton town that started in the late 1790s. Population increased dramatically with the cotton boom, peaking about 1907. The town’s fortunes and population dropped precipitously as a result of the devastation caused to cotton by the boll weevil. “That basically wiped out the town,” said Kristen Maxfield, interpretive park ranger, Natchez Trace Parkway, National Park Service. “The last store closed in the 1930s. That area also had other issues. The soil is very highly erodible. If you walk through that area you can still see the scars from the way they farmed, which was not the best to prevent erosion. The town also had problems with diseases like yellow fever. But it was really the boll weevil that killed the town.” Eight miles of the old Natchez Trace went through the Rocky Springs area, so there were places in Rocky Springs that provided food and shelter for travelers. The Natchez Trace probably began as a wildlife trail, and was used by the American Indians for thousands of years. “It was a popular travel route for settlers from 1780 to the late 1820s,” Maxfield said. “What caused the decline of travel on the Trace was other roads were built and with the advent of streamboat travel in 1820s, it became easier to

Rocky Springs was once an important stop along the Natchez Trace, but now only a few safes and cistrens — which were built to collect and store rainwater — remain. Frank Brown / The Mississippi Business Journal

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NATCHEZ TRACE

Frank Brown / The Mississippi Business Journal

Visitors to Rocky Springs can see the United Methodist Church, which held services until about five years ago, and walk on part of the original Natchez Trace (photo below).

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Spring 2014

take a steamboat than walk.” Currently there are only a few remnants left of the earlier thriving community. A couple of safes that may have come from banks or a post office, and a few cisterns, which were used to capture and store water. Just off the park property overlooking the townsite is a United Methodist Church built in 1837 that has a cemetery attached. Services were still held at the United Methodist Church until about five years ago. In addition to the campground at the Rocky Springs pulloff, there is also a self-guided trail through the town site at Rocky Springs and a segment of the Natchez Trace Scenic trail that goes through the Rocky Springs site that is about seven miles long. “A lot of people enjoy that,” Maxfield said. “The entire Natchez Trace Parkway is designated a National Scenic Trail, and Rocky Springs is one of five hiking trail segments along the parkway. There is also a short segment of the historic old Natchez Trace that you can walk at Rocky Springs. It runs from the campground to near the town site.” Rocky Springs once had a famous tavern owned by Isaac Powers, who was also the postmaster. During these early days, travel on the Trace was by no means safe and it is interesting to note that it was near Rocky Springs that the infamous outlaw John Mason once lived, according to Joyce Shannon Bridges and Ellen Pack writing for MSGenWeb, an online source for Mississippi genealogical resources. “The settlement grew and the 1829 election precinct

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NATCHEZ TRACE received 90 votes,” Bridges and Pack said. “As early as 1837 there were a number of residents, several stores including ones owned by Garrett Keirn and a Mr. Drexler, and a church. The first private school, the Rocky Springs Academy, opened on the 1st of January, 1838, under the direction of Mr. Holmes.” The area reached a maximum population of about 2,600, plus slaves. In 1860 the population was 2,216, plus about 2,000 slaves, all living within a 25-square-mile area. “The decline of Rocky Springs began during the Civil War,” Bridges and Pack said. “Then, in 1878, the town was struck by yellow fever. In the early 1900’s, the boll weevil destroyed most of the cotton crop. Additionally, burdensome taxes, the town's inaccessibility, and almost 100 years of poor farm management causing erosion of the soft soil, created the demise of Rocky Springs. One by one, the citizens began to move away. Finally, in the 1930’s, the last store closed. Even the natural springs, for which the town was named, began to dry up.”

For more information, see the website http://claibornecountyms.org/rocky-springs.htm.

Frank Brown / The Mississippi Business Journal

A cemetery near the Rocky Springs church contains graves that date back to the 1840s.

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NATCHEZ TRACE

Don’t miss these sites along — Compiled by Becky Gillette

Cou

Courtesy Mississippi Development Authority

CYPRESS SWAMPS, milepost 122, is one of the most popular nature walks on the parkway. There is a half-mile loop trail on a boardwalk that goes over the swamp itself. There are interpretive signs about the area’s flora and fauna. The trail through Tupelo gum and bald cypress trees is particularly popular with birdwatchers, and in the warmer months visitors might see an alligator or two. At dawn or dusk, the trail can be a bit eerie, making for interesting photographs.

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MOUNT LOCUST Historic House and Information Center, milepost 15.5, offers an intriguing glimpse into the antebellum South with tours of the plantation home built around 1780. Located about a day’s walk from Natchez, in earlier years it was an inn for travelers. In addition to tours of the home guided by park ranger interpreters, the grounds are a great place for a stroll, as well. The restored home has period style furniture and is considered one of the absolute jewels on the Trace. Courtesy Mississippi Development Authority

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NATCHEZ TRACE

PHARR MOUNDS, milepost 286.7, are a prehistoric Native American site built between 1 and 200 AD, making it about 2,000 years old. There are eight mounds on 90 acres. These mounds built by Native Americans during the Middle Woodland period are considered the oldest manmade monuments in North America. While you can’t actually walk out to the mounds like at Emerald Mound, the site is still worth a visit to view in the distance. In addition to being a burial mound for humans, items excavated at the site include ceremonial artifacts such as copper spools, decorated ceramic vessels, lumps of galena (shiny lead ore), a sheet of mica, and a greenstone platform pipe. The copper, galena, mica and greenstone were imported long distances through extensive trade networks.

the Trace

Courtesy National Park Service

urtesy National Park Service

EMERALD MOUND, milepost 10.3 on Natchez Trace Parkway, was built and used sometime between 1200 and 1730 AD by ancestors of the Natchez Indians and other tribes. The National Historic Site is one of the largest mounds in the U.S., and one of the largest in the world. It is a National Historic Site. The base mound is 35 feet tall, and a mound on top rises another 20 feet. Still considered a sacred site today, quite a few Native Americans come to pay their respects.

Courtesy National Park Service

NATCHEZ TRACE PARKWAY VISITOR CENTER, milepost 266, Tupelo. Visitors are welcome to stop by the Visitor Center and ask about any of the sites along the Natchez Trace Parkway. There are exhibits, an orientation film, and friendly rangers who can answer questions. Visitors with questions can also call the Visitor Center at 800-305-7417. The Visitor’s center is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Christmas.

JEFF BUSBY SITE, milepost 193.1. This well-liked recreation site is named after the former U.S. congressman who helped the Natchez Trace Parkway come into existence in 1938. The site includes Little Mountain, the second highest point in Mississippi at 603 feet above sea level. There are many different types of hardwood trees along the trails, camping area and picnic areas. There is a service station and camp store at the site.

Courtesy National Park Service

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STATE PARKS

Tishomi of state

Natural beauty, rock formations, draw visitors year-round By Lisa Monti

T Sites at Tishomingo State Park include the Bear Creek Canyon overlook, a restored 1840s log cabin for a look back in history, the swinging bridge erected over the creek in 1939, and Bear Creek, which offers canoe float trips. Photos courtesy of Mississippi Development Authority

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ISHOMINGO STATE Park is packed with scenery, history and amenities located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Mississippi’s uppermost corner. It’s known for its natural beauty and features such as large rock formations that are unique in Mississippi. Where else can you go rock climbing? Park manager Bill Brekeen said first-time visitors who are used to traveling out of state to enjoy the mountains are pleasantly surprised by what they find at Tishomingo. “They can’t envision we have this type of setting in the state. It’s like going to the mountains but you’re staying in Mississippi. It’s gorgeous, a nature lover’s paradise.” The scenic Natchez Trace Parkway runs right through the park, which is named for Chief Tishomingo, the leader of the

Spring 2014

Chickasaw Nation. Excavations have found evidence of Indians in the area of the park dating back to 7,000 B.C. “We’ve got a lot of history here,” Brekeen said. The park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Mississippi Landmark. Most of the park’s buildings constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps are still in use today. Tishomingo is hugely popular with campers. “The CCC Cabins are a big draw,” he said. “We have one of the highest cabin occupancy rates year round in the park system.” Sixty-two developed camping sites have picnic tables, grills and hook-ups for water and electrical service with bathhouses nearby. Campers have direct access to Haynes Lake. These sites are so popular that campers are encouraged to make reservations early. Tent camping is available in the large, heavily wooded section of the park that overlooks Haynes Lake. Water, restrooms and showers are within walking distance. Six cabins that can accommodate four people are available for rental. They overlook Bear Creek, have screened in porches or patios and stone fireplaces. Again, reservations are strongly recommended. The recently added Cottage can accommodate four people and is handicapped accessible. Group camping is handled in six air-conditioned cabins for groups up to 108 people with separate quarters for counselors. Meals are served cafeteria style in the dining hall. Five primitive air conditioned huts for up to 46 people also are available. Tishomingo State Park’s 13-mile

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STATE PARKS

ngo Park a part like no other nationally recognized hiking trail system, one of the top in the state, shows off some of the beautiful natural assets in the park including views from its rock ridges and low canyons and along the scenic Bear Creek. You can take a scenic walk on the Swinging Bridge, built in 1939 high above Bear Creek. “People come from miles around to get on that bridge,” Brekeen said. In addition to the excellent hiking opportunities the park offers a seasonal 6.25-mile canoe float trip on Bear Creek when the weather and water level permits. Enjoy the bluffs, vegetation, shoals and rapids along the way. There’s a fee for the canoe, paddles, lifejackets and transportation. For something completely different, Tishomingo offers permitted rock climbing, one of the foothill features you won’t find anywhere else in Mississippi. Climbers must have their own equipment and get a permit before starting the climb. Guides are sold in the Park Office. “We issue 1,500 to 2,000 permits a year,” said Brekeen. For more down to earth recreation, the park has freshwater fishing and also boating on Haynes Lake where you can launch your own boat. The lake is stocked with catfish, bream and bass but you need a state fishing license that can be purchased for a small fee. Disc Golf players can play the three park courses for free year round with the normal entrance fee. Golfers can rent discs and get score cards in the park office. Die Hard disc golfers can compete in the Ice Bowl in January,

the Spring Disc Golf Tournament in March and the Fall Classic in October. It’s fun to watch and players come from all walks of life. The park swimming pool near the Family Cabin area is open seasonally and has shower facilities. There is a fee to use the pool. Said Brekeen: “This will be the sixth season in our new pool. It’s one of our big draws.” The park also has a number of picnic sites with grills, and the three covered pavilions can be reserved for a small fee. Playground equipment is also available with several sites located throughout the park. An 1840s restored log cabin in a natural setting offers an interesting look at pioneer life.

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5

STATE PARKS

more state parks for fun and scenery

LEFLUER’S BLUFF

CLARK CREEK NATURE AREA

LeFleur’s Bluff is a natural getaway right in the middle of Mississippi’s capital. The park, named for the FrenchCanadian explorer, has camping, fishing, picnic sites and several nature trails plus a nine-hole golf course and driving range. There’s camping, a playground, pavilions, a disc golf course and fishing and boating on Mayes Lake.

Photos courtesy Mississippi Development Authority

LEROY PERCY

Waterfalls aren’t something you associate with Mississippi outdoors but Clark Creek has them. The 700-acre nature area is located in Woodville in southwestern Mississippi and has some 50 waterfalls in different sizes, from 10 feet high to more than 30 feet. Clark Creek’s hilly terrain also is home to some trees and wildlife uncommon for the state. It’s popular with nature lovers, birdwatchers and black bears.

BUCCANEER STATE PARK

TRACE STATE PARK Leroy Percy in Hollandale is the oldest of Mississippi’s State Parks and has a couple of wildly unique features. It’s the only state park that has a wildlife preserve and offers seasonal hunting of deer (with primitive weapons only), squirrel, dove, duck and turkey. The park also is well known for its alligators which thrive in the parks warm artesian springs. Visitors can view the gators safely from two observation towers. The Alligator Lake Nature Trail passes through the park’s natural wildlife habitat of a delta hardwood forest.

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Trace State Park in Belden is close to Tupelo but there’s another famous connection to history besides Elvis. The park was once home to pioneer Davy Crockett when he was a horse trader with the Chickasaw Indians after he lost re-election to Congress in his home state of Tennessee. The park also is known for 35 miles of combined usage trails that can be used by ATVs, motorcycles, mountain bikes and horses. Trail riders will see beautiful pine and hardwoods and get views of the scenic lake along the way.

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This restored state park features Buccaneer Bay Waterpark, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The 4.5-acre park, open daily during the summer, offers Pirate’s Lagoon wave pool with rolling six foot waves, two waterslides and a kiddie pool. Pirate’s Alley Nature Trail is a 1.8 mile self guided trail winding through beautiful wooded scenery where pelicans, egrets and osprey are easily found.

— Lisa Monti

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions


BALLET

Amanda Gomes of Brazil competed in the junior division in the 2010 USA IBC, winning a special Jury Award of Encouragement. Richard Finkelstein / Courtesy of USA IBC

Once again, with aplomb International Ballet returns to Jackson this June

T

By Lynn Lofton

HIS IS THE YEAR for the 10th USA International Ballet Competition to be held in Jackson, bringing dancers and visitors from around the world June 14-29. Jackson is in prestigious company as it shares the honor of hosting this event with Varna, Moscow and Tokyo, and celebrates the 35th year as one of the rotating cities. Continued on Page 32

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BALLET

International Ballet returns to Jackson this June From Page 31 The competition has grown since it began in 1979 with 70 dancers from 15 countries. Sue Lobrano, USA IBC executive director, says total attendance for the competition and its ancillary events in 2010 was 34,235. Of that number, 27,040 ticket buyers came from 40 states, Puerto Rico and 10 foreign countries. The dance school drew 258 students from 28 states and two foreign countries. “The event has a tremendous positive impact on the state's image,” Lobrano said. “Local, state and national print media reached 57 million people. Online media impressions reached 1,998,000 people. Many people who attend have never visited Mississippi before, and they leave with good impressions of our state and hospitality.” As part of the state’s creative economy, the Sue Lobrano IBC has a long tradition of partnering with businesses and organizations. Lobrano says Belhaven University hosts the International Village and houses the competitors, dance school students and teachers, and people visiting who choose to stay there. Jackson Academy has been added this year as a site for competitor rehearsals. Other partners include Millsaps College, Ballet Mississippi, Ballet Magnificat and the Mississippi Arts Center. Additionally, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum and Jackson State University provide studio space for the International Dance School, and the Mississippi Museum of Art will partner this June with some of the ancillary events held in the Art Garden. “The 2010 economic impact study compiled for us by the Department of Economic and Workforce Development at the University of Southern Mississippi estimated the two-week USA IBC generated a $10.2 million impact for the state,” Lobrano said. Two well-known dance companies will be coming to this year's competition for the first time. They are Complexions Contemporary Dance,

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USA IBC SCHEDULE June 14 Opening Ceremony: 7:30 p.m. Parade of Nations & Performance by Complexions Contemporary Ballet. June 15-18 Round One: Competitor performances, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. daily. June 19 Trey McIntyre Project Performance, 7:30 p.m. June 20-22 Round Two: Competitor performances, 7:30 p.m. daily. June 24-26 Round Three: Competitor performances – 7:30 p.m. daily. June 28 Awards Gala: Presentation and performances by which will open the competition, and the Trey McIntyre Project, which will hold a two-day residency that includes a lecture and demonstration free to the public, a master class for dancers and present an evening performance. “Neither of these companies have performed in this region of the country before,” Lobrano said. “The USA IBC is known to bring major dance companies to perform during the event. Other ancillary events include a pointe shoe exhibit, IBC official artist Andrew Bucci artwork on exhibit, evening film screening in the Mississippi Museum of Art Garden and dance related workshops.” The director explains the importance of community support. “We would not be able to present an event the stature of the USA IBC without the support of our community,” she said. “I have traveled to other important competitions and their events do not compare to ours in Jackson. This is because of the commitment of so many people; 800 to 1,000 who make up our 18 committees. The importance of community involvement is vital to our success.” The first International Ballet Competition premiered in Varna in 1964 and eventually grew into a cycle of ballet competitions that rotated among the three cities of Varna, Moscow and Tokyo. In 1975, the Jackson Ballet Guild invited Thalia

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medalists, 7 p.m. Entergy Grand Prix Ball – Meet the medalists and dignitaries, enjoy elegant hors d’oeuvres and dance the night away – after the Awards Gala June 29 Encore Gala: Reprise of medalist performances, 7:30 p.m.

TICKETS Tickets: Ticket packages for all 16 performances are on sale now and range from $265 to $405. Individual ticket sales open April 7. Purchase tickets at http://www.usaibc.com/2014-competition/ticketsand-performances/ or at the USA IBC Box Office (inside the Mississippi Arts Center in downtown Jackson, 201 E. Pascagoula Street) or by calling the Box Office, 601-973-9249, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Mara, renowned ballet teacher and educator, to develop a professional ballet company and school for the state of Mississippi. As a part of her development plan, she introduced city leaders to the idea of ballet competitions and convinced them to secure the USA IBC for the city of Jackson. In 1978, the nonprofit corporation, Mississippi Ballet International Inc., was created to produce the first International Ballet Competition in the United States. Robert Joffrey, renowned artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet, agreed to chair the first international panel of jurors. With the help of local, national and international endorsements, combined with the energy and commitment of the citizens of Jackson, the first USA International Ballet Competition was held in June 1979. In 1982, the United States Congress passed a Joint Resolution designating Jackson as the official home of the International Ballet Competition. The second USA IBC was held the same summer with 78 dancers representing 19 countries. The 1982 competition was featured in a 90 minute ABC/PBS film, “To Dance For Gold,” which aired around the world. Subsequent competitions have enjoyed an ever-growing number of competitor applications in addition to worldwide publicity and acclaim.

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions


BALLET

IBC means numbers, positive image for state tourism By Lynn Lofton During two weeks in late June, dancers, instructors, and spectators from around the world will visit the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s capital city for the International Ballet Competition, bringing their dollars and opinions of Mississippi with them. From a tourism aspect, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hoped these visitors will depart with fewer dollars in their pockets and heightened positive thoughts of Mississippi. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an incredible image booster,â&#x20AC;? said Malcolm White, director of state tourism for the Mississippi Development Authority. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re one of four places in the world hosting this event so that gives us a conversation we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t normally have; it puts us on an international stage. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one of the most signiďŹ cant events we ever have and that helps us improve our image.â&#x20AC;? The Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau reports that more than 45,500 attendees were at the International Ballet Competition in 2010, the last year it was held in Jackson. The estimated economic

impact that year was $4.5 million. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Wow! It is a major event for the city and deďŹ nitely puts the city in a positive light on a very big stage. Dancers from around the globe make a goal to get to Jackson, Miss., to propel their careers,â&#x20AC;? said Yolanda Clay-Moore, public relations manager for the Jackson CVB. White says the competition is very much a high-proďŹ le part of the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s push for a creative economy and comes during the Year of the Creative Economy as proclaimed by Gov. Phil Bryant. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This event affects the work force, the local economy and tourism like a big movie production company coming to town,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The IBC visitors are at the top of the list for money spent, and their average stay is three times the average stay of other tourists, which is two and a half days.â&#x20AC;? The IBC has all things tourism ofďŹ cials crave, White points out â&#x20AC;&#x201D; global reach, long average stay, and afďŹ&#x201A;uent visitors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The thing about it I love so much is that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s such a global event,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I

Richard Finkelstein / Courtesy of USA IBC

The June 14 Opening Ceremonies for the 2014 competition will feature the traditional Parade of Nations. The 100 competitors represented 31 nations in 2010. learned when I was at the Mississippi Arts Commission that dance is hard to promote. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wonderful for us to get this competition with its infusion of dancers. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just a phenomenal event that also encourages dance programs at schools, colleges and small dance groups.â&#x20AC;?

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Spring 2014

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33


NATCHEZ

It’s all grand

Natchez hotel is in the heart of the city’s history By Lisa Monti

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HE NATCHEZ GRAND Hotel and Suites opened in March 2008 and is considered the downtown convention hotel, located right across the street from the Convention Center, which opened a few years earlier. The Natchez Grand Hotel at 111 Broadway Street has sweeping views of the Mississippi River and a location right in the heart of historic downtown Natchez. The four-story hotel has 119 rooms, including 19 suites. Brittany Smith, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, describes the Natchez Grand as a modern, upscale and unique hotel for the business and leisure traveler. Its location helps set it apart, she said, “simply because there is no better location.” “We are in the heart of downtown, directly across the street from the Convention Center. We’re surrounded by several restaurants, boutique shops, entertainment and tourist attractions,” she said. “Once you check in, you can practically park your vehicle, attend your meetings, dine, and enjoy various activities for up to three days without having to drive anywhere. It’s a very unique set up.”

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Known for its gracious amenities and impeccable service, the property recently upgraded many features, adding new furniture and a new chandelier to enhance the elegance of the lobby and new sleeper sofas, hallway runners for an added touch of luxury and 55-inch television sets to the suites. The enhancements include turning an empty outdoor spot off the ballroom into a welcoming patio with tables and chairs and covered by an attractive awning. The Natchez Grand Hotel’s goal is to make guests feel comfortable and pampered and no detail is too small. A local potter was commissioned to create small works of art that are placed in the suites to add to the sense of a warm, welcoming atmosphere, making guests feel as though they are at home. “That’s what we want, for our guests to feel like they are at their homeaway-from-home,” said Smith. She said the hotel welcomes a range of clientele, from convention attendees and business travel to tourists and families. It is popular for association and government meetings, weddings, social events, corporate retreats and military and church groups. The hotel has more than 5,000 square feet of meeting room space for groups. “We really emphasize on making the whole experience grand,” she said. “We have a great team that is happy to cus-

Spring 2014

tomize an event to make it special and well remembered.” The hotel serves a top-notch hot breakfast buffet every day. “It’s the real deal,” Smith said. “Scrambled eggs, sausage and biscuits, grits and more.” Guests can enjoy their morning meal in an enclosed breakfast room that also is used for catered events. The hotel’s catering team prepares lunch, dinner and reception menus for groups at the hotel. The hotel is smoke free and all guest rooms and suites have safes, Internet access, flat screen TV, a coffeemaker and complimentary coffee and a work desk with lamp. Handicap-accessible rooms are available. There are several options among the hotel’s suites, including one-bedroom suites, a whirlpool suite, balcony suites and suites with views of the scenic Mississippi River. Value-added packages that include unlimited access to the business center and fitness center are available. To make your stay at the Natchez Grand even more special, the hotel will make dinner reservations for its guests at its sister property, Monmouth’s Restaurant 1818 and can arrange a tour of Monmouth Historic Inn as well. Also available by reservation are horse-drawn carriage tours through the historic district and tours of three of the city’s antebellum homes.

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions


NATCHEZ

5

Things to do in Natchez HISTORIC HOMES

Natchez is all about history and its preservation. There are more than 1,000 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a dozen or so designated as National Historic Landmarks. The gorgeous antebellum homes are remarkably preserved in spite of their years and showcase Southern architecture and heritage in an unforgettable way. You can walk the historic district or take a horse-drawn carriage ride to take in the homes and landmarks.

OLD SOUTH WINERY

— Compliled by Lisa Monti

NATCHEZ UNDER THE HILL

Picture yourself in a vintage tavern, sipping a drink and watching the flowing river in the same spot where assorted characters like riverboat captains, gamblers, pirates and certain ladies used to gather on Silver Street. Under-

the-Hill Saloon is the oldest bar in town and offers plenty of entertainment value blended with its history. It’s decorated with old photos and other reminders of what it was like when saloons and taverns thrived along the river.

NATCHEZ TRACE This scenic and historic route starts just outside Natchez and rolls on for 444 miles to Nashville, Tenn. Travelers have included river traders, American Indians, riverboat crew members. Today, the parkway is popular not only with drivers but also hikers, bikers, horseback riders and campers who come for the natural beauty and many interesting historic sites along the way.

THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI

"The Best in Everything Muscadine" is the motto of this family-run winery that opened in 1979 and promises the largest selection of Muscadine wines anywhere. Brief tours are available and visitors to the tasting room will find muscadine jelly, hot sauce and pepper jelly. And T shirts, of course. The owners, the Galbreath family, say they buy only the best muscadines from Mississippi growers and use the latest winemaking techniques to produce their fruity red, white and rose wines. Taste for yourself.

Natchez has several places around town where you can enjoy watching Old Man River flow past the city and see tugboats and barges at work along the river where steamboats used to travel. The river is the dividing line between

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions

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Mississippi and Louisiana and it is constantly changing course. The city’s bluff high above the river provides an unforgettable vantage point to take it all in. Or you can paddle or canoe on the river for a fresh perspective. www.msbusiness.com

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CONVENTIONS

LET’S HAVE A MEETING

The Gulf Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi is home to many conventions and meetings, as well as concerts and sports events.

Courtesy of Gulf Coast CVB

Destination areas have their own offerings By Ted Carter

C

ASINOS ON THE COAST, The King in Tupelo, the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, the Capitol in Jackson — each of Mississippi’s visitor destinations has something uniquely its own to offer meetings and conventions participants. The Mississippi Gulf Coast and its nationally known casinos and hotels draw plenty of interest from event planners, but the one-stop shop offered by the Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau sales staff is often the deal-sealer, say Crystal Johnson, CVB director of sales, and Annette Rand, meetings manager.

“We try to find out what the meeting planners needs and tailor that to the hotels can accommodate them,” Johnson says. “For instance, if the event is for 300 people in need of meeting space, only a few can accommodate that.” “The largest casinos have the largest space,” Rand notes. The reach of the CVB and its booking hotel accommodation offers has increased significantly with the addition Hancock and Jackson counties to the CVB in recent years. Previously, the CVB operated on behalf of Harrison County only. Tourism groups statewide still have challenges booking conventions of Mississippi trade and professional organizations that routinely go to Florida or the

The Tupelo Automobile Museum also doubles as a meeting venue when needed.

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Spring 2014

Courtesy of Tupelo CVB

Alabama coast for their events. Johnson says, however, that more Mississippi groups are coming to the coast for their smaller gatherings. And the tri-county coast region has stepped up its marketing of group business in Louisiana and Alabama. While most of the marketing has been regional, an expanded reach could be in the works, according to Johnson. “We have hired Mastermind,” an advertising and marketing agency out of New Jersey that has Mississippi coast experience through about 10 years working with the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi. Tupelo Corporate meetings and conventions are an increasing focus of the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau’s marketing of the BancorpSouth Center and Arena, The Summit Center, Tupelo Furniture Market and the ICC Belden Conference Center. “We welcome events of all sizes to host their meetings in Tupelo, says Jan Pannell, CVB sales manager. “We have facilities big and small that can meet the needs of any size event.” Pannell says the CVB strategically targets state association executives meeting planner who decide on the meeting destination of their groups. While being the birthplace of Elvis has made Tupelo a name known worldwide, its branding efforts emphasize that

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions


CONVENTIONS Tupelo “is a leader in progressive thinking in the state of Mississippi,” Pannell says. “We offer visitors the chance to be inspired by this progressive community. We want to be the center of positivity for meeting planners.” The city offers visitors about 2,000 hotel rooms. It’s a year-round market but sees its largest booking in the spring and fall, according to Pannell. Tupelo gives meeting and convention-goers a range of attractions, restaurants and shopping venues, she notes, citing the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum, the Tupelo Automobile Museum, the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo and Health Works! Kids Museum. “The Tupelo CVB loves to help meeting planners design custom outside activities that their participants will enjoy, Pannell adds. The city is challenged as a visitor destination by not being centrally located, but Pannell notes it is easily accessible by U.S. Highway 78, U.S. Highway 45 and the Natchez Trace Parkway. Once meetings and convention participants arrive, they’ll have plenty to do on recreationally, Pannell says. “Where else can you meet among 100 classic and antique cars or kick off your convention form the front porch of the birthplace of the King of Rock n Roll.” Hattiesburg The tendency of meeting planners for Mississippi groups to book around the state on a rotating basis causes Hattiesburg’s group meeting business to fluctuate yearly, says Kristie Fairley, deputy director of the marketing/communications department of the Hattiesburg Tourism/Convention Commission, which does business as VisitHattiesburg. Fairley says since 2008, and

The Jackson Convention Complex has 330,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space. Courtesy of Jackson Convention Complex

especially in the past three years, group meetings have risen steadily. “For example, in 2008 our office worked directly with 12 statewide conventions over the span of the year, and in 2014 is on track to surpass that figure in the first half of the year alone,” she says. VisitHattiesburg’s main meetings venue for the past 15 years has been the 62,000 square-foot Lake Terrace Convention Center situated on 32 acres of park land and within a five-minute drive of many of the city’s hotels. VisitHattiesurg can provide trolleys as a hotel shuttle from the center, according to Fairley. Another prime meetings venue is the Thad Cochran and Trent Lott Centers on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. “We have also realized the importance of offering meeting opportunities that are unique to our area and provide a flavor specific to Hattiesburg, such as keynote addresses at the Historic Saenger Theater located in downtown Hattiesburg, where guests are transported back to 1929 or team-building activities and receptions at the Hattiesburg Zoo,” Fairley says. Hattiesburg’s easy driving proximity to 80 percent of Mississippi and more than 2,100 hotel rooms make it gathering spot for in-state meetings and conventions, Fairley notes. “Although we have hosted several tri-state conferences and even a handful of national conventions, our bread-and-butter and tar-

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions

get audience remains the state’s corporate clients, government meetings and Mississippi Association executives.” Jackson Mississippi’s Capital City has maintained a steady volume of meetings and conventions business since the 2009 opening of the Jackson Convention Center Complex, a more than 300,000-squiare-foot venue situated on Pascagoula Street and within a short distance to downtown destinations such as

Spring 2014

the old and new Capitol buildings, the various museums and historic sites. “We’re seeing an increase in religious business in Jackson and sporting groups,” says Shun Hatten, VP of sales for the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau. A reputation as an affordable family destination is a key selling point for securing meetings and convention bookings, Hatten says. Jackson has the potential to become more of a destination-oriented market once the long-delayed Farrish Street entertainment district is completed and the Mississippi History Museum and Civil Rights Museum open in a couple years, Hatten notes. Farrish Street will provide an after-hours night-life amenity Jackson lacks, she says. The new museums, she adds, “will certainly be big sellers for us, especially in the tourism market.”

www.msbusiness.com 37


CASINOS

2

Big bets on the Gulf Coast By Lynn Lofton

T

WO NEW CASINOS are on the horizon for the Gulf Coast; good news for the sluggish gaming industry and the state’s economy in general. Scarlett Pearl Casino Resort will be the first gaming property for the city of D’Iberville which has been trying to secure a casino for 20 years. Rotate Black's Hemingway Resort Casino will be the second gaming facility in Gulfport. With 12 gaming properties currently operating on the Coast — 10 of them in Harrison County, what different amenities are these new casinos bringing to the market? State Gaming Commission Chairman John Hairston said in answer to that question, “Scarlett Pearl would add to the

skyline as viewed from I-10, as well as offering a mini-golf attraction on the scale of a destination amenity like Big Kahuna in Destin. The proposed Hemingway Hotel in Gulfport would be the first Mississippi Coast 4-star hotel.” Allen Godfrey, Gaming Commission executive director, agrees that both properties should add to the amenities presently offered in the area, each bringing something new. Rotate Black, Inc., a premier development and management company of resort and casino properties, reports that its affiliate Rotate Black MS, LLC, has received an Approval to Proceed from the Mississippi Gaming Commission for its planned Hemingway Resort and Casino, a $130 million development. The casino resort, when completed, will include a 35,000-

square-foot gaming floor, 205room hotel, buffet, steakhouse, café, feature bar, luxury pool and a lounge overlooking the newly renovated marina in Gulfport's small craft harbor at the intersection of U.S. Highways 49 and 90. Developers of the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort plan a miniature golf course and 300 hotel rooms in addition to the gambling hall which will be located on the Back Bay of Biloxi east of Interstate 110. Other amenities planned include a 250-seat buffet, 75seat gourmet restaurant, 140seat coffee shop, 11-seat noodle shop and a food truck near the miniature golf course; a 472seat event center; 2,200 square feet of gift shop and retail space; and 15,000 square feet of outdoor space with a pool. Both proposed properties

Scarlett Pearl Casino Resort, right, will be the first gaming property for D’Iberville, which has been trying to secure a casino for 20 years. Rotate Black’s Hemingway Resort Casino, left, will be the second gaming facility in Gulfport.

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Spring 2014

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions


CASINOS were approved before new gaming regulations went into effect January 1. “The D'Iberville casino would meet the new regulations even if they had chosen to seek approval in January, and the Gulfport property came in under the old regulations,” Godfrey said. “It's tough to answer if the free market system is still the best approach for Mississippi, but time will tell if any new properties that get built will generate new revenue and grow the market or take market share away from existing properties.” Hairston says that although the commission operated inside its prior regulation to require more robust amenities than previously contemplated, the reason is very clear: another few hundred slot machines will draw no new visitors to a gaming market. “The compelling reason visitors will choose the Coast is due to a broad offering of varied experiences that generate multi-night stays,” he said. “If we can successfully convince visitors to come a day early, or stay a day late, the benefit to the coastal economy is dramatic. “Visitors stay longer because there are more experiences, not because there are more copies of the same experience. The Gaming Commission warmly welcomes ideas for amenities from the various tourism organizations in all markets and hopes that tourism organizations will partner with the Mississippi Gaming Association (run by gaming operators) to discuss investments for both existing and new casinos. Tourism markets are competing with each other for visitor interest. The winning markets will be the ones with the best cooperation and teamwork.” Hairston, an executive with Hancock Bank, says growth is not being experienced in the Tunica gaming market because that destination was built as a single value proposition — gaming. “The overall visitor experience must be broadened for Tunica to rebound. It can be done, but not by creating more casinos. In my opinion, the investments should be in amenities.”

BAY ST. LOUIS Hollywood Casino 711 Casino Magic Drive 800-562-4425

Mississippi Casinos

Silver Slipper Casino 5000 South Beach Blvd. 866-775-4773

BILOXI Beau Rivage Casino 875 Beach Blvd. 888-567-6667 Boomtown 676 Bayview Ave. 800-627-0777 Golden Nugget 151 Beach Blvd. 800-777-7568 Grand Casino 265 Beach Blvd. 800-946-2946 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino 777 Beach Boulevard 877-877-6256 Imperial Palace 850 Bayview Avenue 800-436-3000 Margaritaville Casino and Restaurant 160 5th Street 855- 667-6777 Palace Casino Resort 158 Howard Ave. 800-725-2239 Treasure Bay 1980 Beach Blvd. 800-747-2839

GREENVILLE Harlow’s Casino Resort 4250 Hwy 82 West 866-524-5825 Trop Casino 199 Lakefront Rd. 800-878-1777 Gulfport Island View Casino Resort

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions

Silver Star Casino near Philadelphia. 3300 W. Beach Blvd 800-817-9089

LULA Isle of Capri 777 Isle of Capri Parkway 800-789-5825

NATCHEZ Isle of Capri 70 Silver St. 800-722-5825 Magnolia Bluffs Casino 7 Roth Hill Road 888-505-5777

PHILADELPHIA Pearl River Resorts (Silver Star and Golden Moon) 13541 Mississippi 16 601-650-1234

TUNICA RESORTS Bally’s 1450 Bally Blvd. 800-382-2559 Fitzgerald’s Casino 711 Lucky Lane 800-766-5825 Gold Strike Casino Resort 1010 Casino Center Dr. 888-245-7829

Spring 2014

Courtesy Mississippi Development Authority

Harrah’s 13615 Old Hwy 61 North 800-946-4946 Hollywood Casino 1150 Casino Strip Blvd. 800-871-0711 Horseshoe Casino 1021 Casino Center Drive 800-303-7463 Resort’s Tunica Casino 1100 Casino Strip Blvd. 866-676-7070 Roadhouse Casino 1107 Casino Center Drive 800-391-3777 Sam’s Town 1477 Casino Strip Blvd. 800-456-0711

VICKSBURG Ameristar Casino 4116 Washington Street 800-700-7770 DiamondJacks 3990 Washington St. 877-711-0677 Lady Luck Casino 1380 Warrenton Road 800-503-3777 Riverwalk Casino 1048 Warrenton Road 866-615-9125

www.msbusiness.com

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