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tourism, meetings & conventions in Mississippi Spring 2015

SEAL WITH A KISS It’s a treat you might find at Institute for Marine Mammal Studies — Pages 6-9

HOME COOKING Old homes turned into restaurants provide more than a taste of history,

10-18

Our selections for best golf courses in state, 20-32


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CONTENTS

WHAT’S INSIDE 6 More than dolphins

33 Tubing on the river

The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport offers more than just dolphins. It’s an interactive, educational way to explore Gulf Coast sea life.

Looking for an adventerous, but relaxing way to spend a summer afternoon? Take a trip to the Bogue Chitto river.

10 Home

New amenities and renovations at casinos on the Gulf Coast have helped pull the industry out of a long downward spiral.

cooking

»The cover Chelsey Taylor, an intern at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport gets a kiss from Gabby, a sea lion rescued by the Channel Island Marine and Wildlife Institute. It was taken to the IMMS where it now lives. Photo credits: Main photo courtesy of Institute for Marine Mammal Studies; fried chicken courtesy of Walnut Hills Restaurant in Vicksburg; Sanderson Farms Championship photo by Frank Brown of the MBJ.

34 Casinos

Some of the state’s most outstanding restaurants are situated in old homes — some dating back to the 1700s. We take you on a tour of seven of our favorite places.

36 Baseball Mississippi After 10 years as the state’s only minor league team, the Mississippi Braves will have company this summer when the Biloxi Shuckers begin play on the coast.

20 Our favorite courses 38 Conventions We share what we believe are some of the top golf courses in Mississippi — as well as the best pro shop, the best teaching pro and one incredible 19th hole.

Whether it be Gulf beaches, city amenities in Jackson, casinos or Elvis in Tupelo, the state plays to its strengths when trying to attract conventions to the state.

MAG AD 1/2 HORIZ

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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 cowritten 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.

MISSISSIPPI BUSINESS JOURNAL 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

JACK WEATHERLY Staff Writer jack.weatherly@msbusiness.com

VIRGINIA HODGES Account Executive virginia.hodges@msbusiness.com

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

Business at The Alluvian is an experience for all your senses. From the fresh ground coffee and comfortable workspace, to delicious in-house catering and relaxing spa breaks, The Alluvian is the place where business meets pleasure.

318 Howard Street

Greenwood, Mississippi 38930

662.453.2114

thealluvian.com

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COVER STORY

More than simply dolphins Institute for Marine Mammal Studies makes learning fun By LYNN LOFTON | mbj@msbusiness.com Who doesn't love dolphins? Or sea lions? Or colorful birds? Or digging in sand for sharks teeth? There's all this and more — for kids of all ages — at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport. Their motto is Discover Us! and their mission is to make learning fun. Located on Bayou Bernard just off busy Cowan-Lorraine Road which connects to Interstate 10, the IMMS offers tours, experiences with animal life, field trips and summer camps for visitors. There is also an important research and rescue component. “We want to immerse visitors in fun to make them better stewards of the environment,” says Moby Solangi, Ph.D, executive director of IMMS. “We bring nature to the people; things you can't easily see. Here, you can feel, see and touch it.”

See IMMS, Page 8

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COVER STORY

Photos courtesy of IMMS

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COVER STORY

IMMS

Continued from Page 6

Tours begin in the visitors center and museum which highlights the coastal environment. Displays include games, photos, a big sandbox where everyone can dig for sharks teeth and learning exhibits. “The Gulf of Mexico is an international treasure,â€? Solangi said. “We show the connectivity and why the actions in the rest of the United States affect it.â€? Another exhibit displays various items of marine debris with the number of years it takes them to disintegrate; for instance, 400 to 450 years for a plastic bottle. Informative and entertaining presentations — including colorful exotic birds — are given in a 200-seat auditorium before visitors enjoy the Discovery Room where there are tanks of fresh, brackish and salt water. An albino catďŹ sh is a popular attraction. A lot of touching and feeling happens in this room, including horseshoe crabs, stingrays and snakes. Steps at each tank ensure that the smallest visitors can see the action. “The key word is interaction and that's what we make it,â€? Solangi said. “You could never get in a boat and go out and see all

of this on your own.� After this fun interaction, visitors head outside to see the dolphins and sea lions and get up close and personal with them if desired. Activities include pet or kiss or swim with a dolphin, and a new one — paint with a dolphin with kids holding the canvas and the dolphin painting the abstract art. “Kids love it!� Solangi says. Alexis Schenck of Rockwell, N. C., swam with the dolphins while visiting relatives in Gulfport last sumPhotos courtesy of IMMS mer. The 15-year-old A center worker lets one of the exotic birds show off its skills. enjoyed learning facts three males. Bo and Buster are retired about the dolphins and joining them in Navy dolphins , and C.J. and Apollo were the water. “They're interesting creatures, stranded and can not be released back and it was fascinating the way they into the wild. learned the whistle commands,� she said. Youngsters can also doze with the dolThe IMMS is home to four Atlantic phins by spending Saturday nights at Bottlenose dolphins; one female and

SOME PRETTY EXCITING MEETINGS HAVE HAPPENED IN

NATCHEZ !

Something about Natchez just draws people here. Like the Spanish, French, and English nearly 300 years ago. In fact, our rich international heritage is just one reason to choose Natchez for your next meeting.

Here we have history, scenery, a state-of-the-art 32,000 square foot convention center; and a walkable    

     gaming, outdoor recreation, and a breathtaking view of the Mighty Mississippi. Come 2016, we’ll be celebrating three centuries of Southern culture with a monumental, year-long Tricentennial celebration -- and everyone is invited. Surprise your delegates with the hospitality of a truly southern town. Some pretty exciting meetings have happened in Natchez. Make yours the next one.

natchezms300.com

visitnatchez.org

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COVER STORY IMMS. Reservations for this and other programs, including summer camps, birthday parties and kayaking trips, must be made. “When you enjoy something, you want to protect it,” the director said, “and that's what we're trying to instill in kids.” Another new activity is kissing a sea lion, the marine mammals who were the marquee performers at Marine Life, which Solangi owned and operated in Gulfport Harbor before Hurricane Katrina destroyed it. He has been on the Coast 40 years and established the IMMS in 1984. It's been at its current location since 2009. “Visitors from the youngest children to senior citizens can enjoy what we have. There's nothing like it on the Gulf Coast where you use all the senses,” he said. “We make memories here. A kid who picks up a snake or interacts with a dolphin here will always remember that.” Additionally, junior high and high school students can job shadow IMMS employees and interns come from all over the world to train there. Complete information about the programs, including costs and times, can be found at www.IMMS.org or by calling 228-896-9182.

The touch pool gives adults and children the opportunity for hands-on learning at the Gulfport facility.

An encounter group visits with one of the dolphins at IMMS.

A horseshoe crab provides a moment of disccovery for three young boys.


HOME COOKING

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Dining in historic structures a By LYNN LOFTON mbj@msbusiness.com

Our historic dining spots,

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HROUGH OUT THE South — and Mississippi is no exception — food is more than sustenance; it brings people together, whether dining at home or in restaurants. There’s nothing like home cooking, but sometimes that style of cooking is blended with the ambiance of home in restaurants located in old houses. Mississippi is fortunate to have numerous restaurants of this type; places that are packing in diners every day. We’re shining the spotlight on seven, Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, Two Sisters in Jackson, Walnut Hills Restaurant in Vicksburg, The Castle Restaurant & Pub in Natchez, Sycamore House in Bay St. Louis, Mary Mahoney’s in Biloxi and Aunt Jenny’s

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in Ocean Springs. “Mississippi’s restaurant scene represents diverse concepts in unique settings,” said Mike Cashion, executive director of the Mississippi Restaurant and Hospitality Association. “From the glitz of a Michelin Star restaurant to the comfort of a country dinner table, customers can find virtually any type of dining they desire within the borders of our great state.” Cashion feels there's no better way to experience the fascinating history of the state than by dining in some of the historic homes that can be found throughout Mississippi. “Guests are encouraged to get a taste of the history and lore associated with

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G N I K O O C adds taste of history to meal these beautiful buildings, as well as a sample of some great Mississippi dining traditions,” he said. “Mississippi’s story is steeped in rich history, cultural heritage and good food,” said Malcolm White, director of Visit Mississippi. “Several restaurants across the state have found a way to combine all three into one experience, offering visitors the opportunity to dine in a location with its own individual tale or legend. Charming, rustic and intriguing, these homes-turned-restaurants are part of the Mississippi experience.” The director of the state's tourism effort believes food and drink are at the core of Mississippi's culture and history. “There’s a saying around here: ‘Food brings people together at the community table.’ We find great joy in sharing the Mississippi story through the heirloom recipes, family-owned restau-

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rants and farm-to-table menus full of our most celebrated dishes,” he said. “Whether you’re seeking authentic Delta-style hot tamales, an upscale twist on Southern cuisine, or a sampling of Mississippi craft brews or a sip of sweet tea, the next meal always holds something special for you. Let your cravings drive you from the glorious seafood of the Gulf Coast, north to the tempting barbeque huts along the highways and the catfish joints and steak houses in between. Leave room for mile-high meringue on fresh coconut pie, melt-in-your-mouth pimento cheese spread and fresh greens smothered in our one-of-a-kind comeback salad dressing.” The official tourism website, visitmississippi.org, includes a Culinary Trail that lists restaurants throughout the state. It focuses on the variety and wealth of dining options.

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Walnut Hills Vicksburg

in 2002. as renovated w s ill H t nu al W Built in 1880, THE HOME:

By LYNN LOFTON mbj@msbusiness.com T'S ALL ABOUT Southern culture at Walnut Hills Restaurant in Vicksburg. The restaurant is in a charming old Victorian era Southern home and the food is Southern home cooking, which owner Joyce Clingan says is their specialty. The house was built in 1880 of local lumber by the George Rogers family. It was a two-bedroom house that became rental property after the Rogers family stopped living there. In 1980 Kim Farris bought and rehabilitated the house and turned it into a restaurant. Clingan bought the business in 2002 and continues maintaining the old home. “People like coming here to eat and are always saying they feel like they're at grandma's house,” Clingan said. “We have some furnishings and things, including a hall tree in the entry and paintings on the walls, that make it look and feel like grandma's house.” Clingan also owns the Nogales House, a twostory brick house next door that was built in 1868-69. “We will have special events there and started having brunch there,” she said. “Our new pastry chef, Sam Taylor, handles brunch.” In the Walnut Hills Restaurant, fresh home grown vegetables are used as much as possible. There are two round tables from which diners can help their plates at lunch. “We have a lot of regulars and a lot of tourists who like the round tables,” Clingan said. “We also have daily specials, steaks, seafood and are known for our fried chicken.” The restaurant is proud to be part of the Mississippi Seafood Trail. “We have the most wonderful seafood at night,” Clingan said. Pointing out that different people are known for cooking different things, she praises Taylor for his coconut cream pie, pecan praline pie and key lime pie. “None are store bought; they're all made here.” The restaurant has been featured in numerous publications and has won several awards.

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Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays. Closed Tuesdays. 1214 Adams Street, Vicksburg; 601-638-4910; www.walnuthillsrestaurant.com

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Walnut Hills

THE COOKIN G: Walnut Hill s is known for vegetables, sp its fried chicke ecials, steaks n. and is part of the Mississippi It also offers Seafood Trail.

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Sycamore House Bay St. Louis

an cottages a pair of Acadi as w se ou H e Sycamor in the 1850s. THE HOME: one dwelling to in d ne bi m that were co

By LYNN LOFTON mbj@msbusiness.com OME COOKING has an extra meaning at The Sycamore House in Bay St. Louis. That’s where a young couple, both chefs, operate a restaurant on the bottom level of a National Register of Historic Places property and live on the second level. “We live upstairs with our two children, ages 7 and 9 years,” said Stella LeGardeur. “It’s good and bad. Sometimes we feel we never go home, but it sure is convenient.” LeGardeur and her husband, Michael Easthan, devote days when the restaurant is closed to being with their children. “We don’t answer the restaurant phone on those days so we can be with the children and feel we’re really off work,” she said. The house was originally a pair of 19th Century Acadian cottages that were combined into a single dwelling in the 1850s. It overlooks historic Main Street in Old Town Bay St. Louis. For many years the home was known as the Mauffray Boarding House after the Mauffray family who took in seasonal visitors. The chefs completed rigorous training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Both apprenticed with names that carry weight in the world of food and wine, and both have won recognition for their culinary skills. The dinner menu at The Sycamore House includes many seafood and steak favorites with a New Orleans touch. They have barbecue shrimp, shrimp remoulade, turtle soup, shrimp and grits, fish amandine, and jumbo scallops with beurre blanc to name a few. The grilled steaks can be served with a choice of sauces. There are also sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and a children's menu. The desserts are all made in house. LeGardeur is from New Orleans and Easthan is from upstate New York. They came to Mississippi in the fall of 2002 in search of a home and restaurant. “We found both in the former Mauffray boarding house,” LeGardeur said. “The traditional setting with its mature oak trees providing shade to the screened porch and patio areas had been a restaurant since the 1970s.” The couple named the restaurant in honor of Easthan’s grandmother whose British home of the same name was a source of inspiration and joy to him as a child.

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Open Wednesday and Thursday: 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sunday brunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; 210 Main Street, Bay St. Louis; 228-469-0107; www.thesycamorehouse.com.

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THE COOKING: Among Sycamore House offers are the grilled Mahi Mahi over a sweet potato cake with a pineapple mango chutney, and the Flauta de jour, a tortilla filled with meat cheese and whatever else they decide. www.msbusiness.com

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Doe’s Eat Place Greenville

s ago as built 130 year as w ’s oe D : e back. THE HOME g quarters in th in liv a ith w e a general stor

By LYNN LOFTON mbj@msbusiness.com

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HE AMBIANCE is simple — some might even say rustic — in the 130-year-old structure that houses Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, but in combination with the food, it all works. It’s been working well for almost 70 years and keeps diners coming back. The Signa family's philosophy about food is to choose a few items and cook them really well. “We have an easy menu to handle and it's easy to cook,” said Charles Signa, who runs the business with his brother Dominick Signa Jr. “We call ourselves cooks, not chefs. We cook only seven items and do not have menus.” Doe’s is known for steaks, which include 10-ounce filets and three-to-four-pound porterhouses, fried and broiled shrimp, chili, hot tamales, garlic toast and salad with fresh lemon and oil dressing. They still roll and tie the tamales by hand, and most nights salads are still made by the Signas’ Aunt Florence. At age 89, she’s worked at Doe’s 67 years. “We also have longevity among our employees. Some of the waitresses have been here 30 and 40 years,” Signa said. “Most people know who they want to wait on them. And we have generations of families who’ve been eating here through the years. I have a friend who’s been coming here since he was born.” Baked potatoes — steak’s usual sidekick — are not served at Doe’s. “We’re noted for out fresh cut fries cooked in a cast iron skillet,” Signa said. “One time, thinking we’d change things, we baked 50 potatoes to serve with our steaks. We threw out 49 baked potatoes.” The restaurant was opened in 1941 by Dominick Sr. and Mamie Signa in the family’s old grocery store. Dominick Signa’s father came to Greenville in 1903 and opened a grocery store with the family living in the back. The store did well until the flood of 1927. Charles Signa points out that the years have taken a toll on the building. “We've considered moving but people don’t want us to change anything. They say it wouldn’t be Doe’s anywhere else,” he said. Part of the casual charm of Doe’s is walking through the kitchen to the dining rooms. “The first person diners usually see is one of the family cooking at the steak grill,” he said. In addition to Charles and Dominick Jr., the brothers' sons are continuing the family restaurant tradition. There are now franchise restaurants open in Paducah, Ken., Tulsa, Okla., Baton Rouge and Monroe, La., and Little Rock, Fayetteville, Bentonville and Fort Smith, Ark. The Greenville location is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the restaurant won the James Beard American Classic Award.

Open Monday-Saturday 5 to 9 p.m.; 502 Nelson St., Greenville; 662-334-3315 or 662-254-8081; www.doeseatplace.com

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THE COOKING: Doe’s is know for its steaks — which include 10-ounce filets and smaller porterhouse steaks. It has only 7 items on the menu, including a tossed salad with fresh lemon and oil dressing that is frequently prepared by the Signas’ Aunt Florence, 89, who has worked at Doe’s 67 years.

Photos courtesy of Greenville-Washington County CVB

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The Castle Natchez

house and was a carriage e tim e on at hich preserved. The Castle, w brick has been al in ig or e THE HOME: Th s. ilt in the 1790 stables, was bu

By LYNN LOFTON mbj@msbusiness.com N NATCHEZ, a city known for beautiful, grand homes, Dunleith is no exception and The Castle Restaurant is part of the Dunleith complex. The restaurant and pub are located in Dunleith’s original carriage house and stables that were built in the 1790s. This unusual 18th Century brick structure was home to fine carriages and purebred thoroughbreds. It was built to resemble a castle and is an architectural gem that provides a comfortable dining atmosphere. “The restaurant opened in 2001 and recently had some work done to expose the old beams and give it a more natural look,” said Malan Parks, restaurant manager. “The upstairs where the carriages were kept is the restaurant, and downstairs where the horses were kept is the pub. The original mahogany horse stalls and original brick have been retained.” She says the castle is older than the main house because the house burned and was rebuilt in 1856 and today is listed as a National Landmark. True to castle style, there's a restored moat around the restaurant building. A ramp provides easy access for diners. “When it's cold, seating in front of the fire place is a favorite, and when the weather is nice, diners like to sit in front of the bay window overlooking the pool,” Parks said. The food at The Castle is a mixture of contemporary and Southern soul food. “Chef Brad Seyfarth came from New Orleans where he created the Godchaux Salad, an item that will never come off our menu,” Parks said. “For lunch we include a lot of vegetables and for dinner we have some steak and pork dishes that are popular.” Additionally, the restaurant has lobster night, guest chefs — including a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital — and a mixology class with five courses. There’s an extensive wine list and the restaurant won a Wine Spectator award. “We always have something going on,” Parks said.

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rks/The Castle sy of Malan Pa Photos courte

THE COOKING: The Castle offers a mixture of contemporary and Southern soul food, but don’t miss any of the desserts, such as the Castle Moltren, above. Right: The chef is Brad Seyfarth and the manager is Malan Parks.

Reservations are recommended and dress is business casual. Restaurant hours: Breakfast, 7:30-10 a.m. seven days a week. Lunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. seven days (with an extended breakfast on Sunday. Dinner, 6–9 p.m. Sunday–Thursday and 6–10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The Pub opens daily at 4 p.m.; 84 Homochitto St., Natchez; 800-433-2445 or 601-446-8500; www.dunleith.com.

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Aunt Jenny’s Ocean Springs By LYNN LOFTON mbj@msbusiness.com OR SOUTHERN COOKING, it doesn't get any better than fried catfish, shrimp and chicken. In Ocean Springs these tasty dishes are served in a charming 1852 house at Aunt Jenny's. The property’s 500-year-old Live Oak trees with trailing Spanish moss add to the scenic beauty, and the restaurant sits on a promontory at the mouth of the Bay of Biloxi. “We’ve got the jump on other places when it comes to surroundings,” says Ronnie Hamilton, who’s been general manager since Aunt Jenny’s opened in 1981. “You just can't beat the beautiful view overlooking Fort Bayou, especially at sunset.” He also thinks the house itself adds charm and ambiance to dining at Aunt Jenny's where the five dining rooms can seat up to 120 people. “We have quite a few parties here and surprisingly a lot of kids when asked where they’d like to have parties, want to come here,” Hamilton said. “It’s sort of like going to eat at Grandma’s house.” The Julep Lounge is in the cellar of the house where cocktails can be sipped while enjoying the tranquil view. A frequent visitor in the 1950s was Elvis Presley, a young singer beginning to make a name for himself. He stayed at the nearby Gulf Hills Resort and liked to sit in a certain corner booth at the Julep Lounge. “We’re proud of that bit of history,” Hamilton said. Aunt Jenny’s serves fried pond raised catfish, chicken and shrimp family style. It’s all you can eat and there’s a children’s menu. There are also hush puppies and biscuits made from scratch. Dishes are named for family members of owner Carl Lizana and his wife Jenny, including Hamilton who married into the family. “When we say it’s family owned and operated, it really is,” Hamilton said. “All the recipes came from actual family members.” Aunt Jenny’s was featured on the ABC television program Good Morning America’s Best Bite in America Challenge. “We serve good quality food in line with the kind of food many of us had growing up,” Hamilton said.

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Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; 1217 Washington Ave., Ocean Springs; 228-875-9201

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THE HOME: Aunt Jenny’s was built in 1852 on property near the mouth of the Biloxi River that has 500year-old live oak trees.

THE COOKING: Aunt Jenny’s serves fried pond raised catfish, chicken and shrimp family style. It’s all you can eat and there’s a children’s menu. There are also hush puppies and biscuits made from scratch.

Photos courtesy of Maddie Groue / Aunt Jenny’s

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HOME COOKING

Victorian style in a two-story mily. is s er st Si o Tw nnix and his fa THE HOME: for Joseph Pe 3 0 19 in ilt bu house

Two Sisters Jackson By LYNN LOFTON mbj@msbusiness.com INERS HAVE BEEN beating a steady path to Two Sisters’ Kitchen in Jackson for 26 years. It’s a familyowned business that’s been managed by Dianne Irving Alford since it opened, and the setting is family inspired. The restaurant is in a two-story Victorian style house built in 1903 for Joseph Pennix and his family. “It's a real cozy atmosphere with lots of family photos and paintings,” Alford said. “People tell us it's just like going to grandma's house. It's very social; almost like a family reunion.” The layout has been left as it was originally with rooms on each side of a central hall downstairs. Diners eat in the parlor and dining room. Upstairs, bedrooms also serve as dining areas. An old sleeping porch was enclosed with windows all around for an unusual dining space. “Some people tell us we should put the sleeping porch back like it was and rent hammocks to let them sleep there,” Alford said. “There are also places upstairs that you can get in a corner and be private.” Another popular spot is the upstairs balcony where visitors have a great view of the state capital. “There's nowhere else in the city where you can see that view of the capital,” Alford said. There's a brick patio that seats 100 for al fresco dining. The middle section is covered and has ceiling fans, wrought iron trim and twinkle lights adding to the ambiance. “Weather permitting, we have music Wednesday, Friday and Sunday,” Alford said. The food at Two Sisters' Kitchen has been featured on the television show Man Versus Food Nation and the Canadian program 101 Places to Chow Down. Alford says that's because it's all home cooking with family recipes. “We always have fried chicken; it's fresh Mississippi chicken that's never frozen,” she said. “There are two other meats and a changing array of vegetables, but we have angel biscuits and cornbread every day. We have rice and gravy every day except Thursday when we have mashed potatoes.” The list of Southern vegetables sounds like a list from a Eudora Welty novel — pickled beets, black eye peas, sweet potatoes, butter beans and turnip greens. That Southern staple, grits, was added when the first big international art exhibit came to Jackson a few years ago. “I just thought there would be nothing worse than visitors coming to Jackson and having bad grits, so we added ours to the menu and it's stayed on,” Alford said. She stresses that the food at Two Sisters is not as fattening as you might think. “We take the skin off the chicken, use smoked turkey — no pork — in the vegetables, make our own chicken stock and use ground turkey for spaghetti sauce. We try to make everything heart healthy,” Alford said.

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Reservations can be made at Two Sisters and orders can be placed to go. Open weekdays 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m.-3 p.m., closed Saturdays. 707 N. Congress St., Jackson. 601353-1180.

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THE COOKIN G: A fried chicken an mong the lunch offerings at Two Sisters, d the bread pu dding dessert favorites. are among th e

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Mary Mahoney’s Biloxi

French House Mahoney’s Old s been home y ar M y sa e ha Som te it to 1835. It THE HOME: hile others da w , 37 17 in ilt was bu nt since 1964. to the restaura

By LYNN LOFTON mbj@msbusiness.com OR MANY VISITORS it’s not a trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast without dining at Mary Mahoney’s Old French Restaurant in Biloxi. At this dining icon memories are created with food and elegant surroundings for both visitors and residents. “People enjoy dining in old houses because they’re unique settings,” says Bobby Mahoney, son of the late Mary Mahoney. “Our restaurant is in the oldest documented structure in Biloxi and probably in the state, according to the Architectural Review Guide.” The Mahoneys bought the house from a lady who dated the structure to 1737, but the city dates it to 1835. Mahoney says the servants’ quarters probably pre-date the house. That area joins the house with a bar and low-ceiling dining room and is the way visitors enter at Mary Mahoney’s. “A lot of the pleasure in dining in old houses has to do with atmosphere and different types of entrances; they’re not generic. When you open a restaurant in a house, it’s not a chain restaurant,” Mahoney said. This fine-dining restaurant has added additional space through the years, including a big sunroom on the back. “That’s a popular spot with diners because it’s an open, airy space, and others like the dark bar,” Mahoney said, “but probably the most popular place is the little glass porch that overlooks the Magnolia Hotel.” Mahoney points out that the restaurant is not really a French restaurant even though the house is French. Mary Mahoney’s focuses on steaks and fresh Gulf seafood. “We probably use more crab meat than any other restaurant around,” he said. “One of our signature dishes is shrimp and lump crab meat St. Patrick that’s served in a snail dish. That came about because a lady asked if we could fill the dish with shrimp and crab instead of snails. We did and it was a hit.” Another signature dish is Lobster Georgio, named for Mary Mahoney’s Croatian cousin who served as chef for many years. “They had some Florida lobster that was drying out so Mother asked him to find a way to use them. He came up with a cream sauce that’s been popular on the menu.” The most requested menu items are stuffed snapper, sisters-of-thesea au gratin, veal Antonio and flounder imperial. “I would bring all of those to a restaurant fight,” Mahoney said. “Our flounder imperial is coming up in the menu pecking order real quick. It has no bones and is stuffed with crab meat and no breading.” The restaurant celebrated its 50th anniversary last May. Mary Mahoney and her brother Andrew Cvitanovich opened the business in 1964. Bobby Mahoney and his sister Eileen Ezelle operate the restaurant now and also have children involved. “They’ll keep it going another 50 years,” he said.

F

sy of Mary M Photos courte

ahoney’s

THE COOKIN G: Flounder st uffed with crab Imperial is a po mea pular dish at M ary Mahoney’s t .

Open Mondays-Saturdays 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Closed Sundays; U.S. 90 and Rue Magnolia, Biloxi; 228-374-0163; www.marymahoneys.com.

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

Stuff you may not know about the...

7 Our fifth annual

Best Golf Courses in Mississippi Tour the courses, pages 22-32

Frank Brown / The Mississippi Business Journal

Do you know who won the PGA Tour event last year? P.32 20 www.msbusiness.com

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Which state park has ‘Hidden Gem’? P.28

Which club has one of the nation’s top 19th holes with a view of the course? P.32

Which course is ‘Little Augusta’, because it is similar to the Masters course? P.26 ’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions

Spring 2015

Which scenic casino course is also open to the public? P.24 www.msbusiness.com

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BEST OVERALL EXPERIENCE

Old Waverly Golf Club West Point

Photos courtesy of MDA

One of nation’s best, too By BECKY GILLETTE mbj@msbusiness.com The Old Waverly Golf Club is consistently ranked as not just one of the very best golf clubs in Mississippi, but one of the top 100 golf courses in the U.S. Old Waverly has been described as “a place like no other in Mississippi.” The course is always immaculate, and visitors enjoy beautiful views along with top-notch golf. The impressive clubhouse that towers over the golf course had as its inspiration an antebellum mansion built on the banks of the Tombigbee River called Waverley, which was named for the main character and title of Sir Walter Scott’s first novel published in 1814. Old Waverly has been named to Golfweek’s Top 100 Courses and Golf Digest’s Top 100 courses. It has been listed as Golf Digest’s top course in Mississippi for many years. Major tournaments Old Waverly has hosted through the years include the men’s and women’s SEC Championship, Southern Golf Association Women’s and Junior Championships, the 2006 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, and the 1999 U. S. Women’s Open.

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This year Old Waverly will be hosting the 109th Southern Amateur Championship, one of the largest amateur events in the world. “Players from all over the world will be competing,” said Chris Jester, director of golf, Old Waverly Golf Club. “The tournament dates are July 15-18. Many of the best golf clubs in the South have hosted the Southern Am. Many of its champions have gone on to very successful careers in professional golf.” It isn’t just the pros who get special treatment at Old Waverly. “Our goal, day-in and day-out, is to provide our members and guests with a world-class golf experience,” Jester said. Fans of Old Waverly say it is a course you can play every day and not get tired of it. And at this golf club, Southern hospitality is a way of life. Old Waverly is known for its talented culinary staff who tempt the palate with many creative renditions of unique Southern cuisine. There are also luxury accommodations available at the seven and four-bedroom cottages on the shores of Lake Waverly, villas and condos. The accommodations get rave reviews for panoramic views of the lake and golf course. Old Waverly is well regarded for hav-

Spring 2015

Old Waverly Golf Club Year opened: 1988 Designers: Jerry Pate and Bob Cupp Dues: Call 662-494-6463 Greens fees: With member, week days $88; weekends $98 Yardage: 7,088 yards from back tee Par: 72

ing one of the best teaching programs in the state. The Teaching Center offers private instruction, clinics, schools, and customized packages.

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2

WHERE THE PROS PLAY

Country Club of Jackson Jackson

Photos by Frank Brown / The Mississippi Business Journal

Nick Taylor launches his approach shot to the 18th green during the final round of his victory in the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship at Country Club of Jackson.

CCJ offers more than just great golf By BECKY GILLETTE mbj@msbusiness.com If anyone hasn’t played the Country Club of Jackson’s course since its total renovation in 2008, then they really don’t know golf at the CCJ. General Manager Patrick Joyce said the facilities are both excellent and expansive, with 27 holes of completely re-designed golf and a 10-acre practice facility. “Night and day would be a good comparison when talking about our golf course pre and post renovation,” Joyce said. “The best aspect of the course is that it’s a course for all skill levels, as there are multiple tees on each hole which affect not only distance, but difficulty. The CCJ is also home to very active golf associations (Men’s Golf Association, Ladies Golf Association, Junior Golf Association and Senior Men’s Golf Association), and each keep an active golf calendar.” Since 2014, the PGA Tour event Sanderson Farms Championship has been held at CCJ. The tournament’s primary beneficiary is the Friends of Children’s Hospital. Sanderson Farms made a three-year commitment to hold the event at the CCJ through 2016 while increasing the purse from $3 million to $4 million. “It was a great honor to be named the host site for the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship,” Joyce said. “There are 44 state-side PGA

Country Club of Jackson Year opened: 1914 Designer: Dick Wilson (1914), John Fought (2008 redesign) Dues: Multiple formats; call for information Greens fees: $55 weekdays; $95 weekends,

plus cart Yardage: 7305 yards (back tees); 5,110 (front tees) Par: 72

Tour events, and only 18 are at private clubs. To have the CCJ numbered amongst the 18 was the crowning achievement and ultimate validation for our golf course and overall facilities. Mr. Sanderson and his team from Sanderson Farms, Steve Jent and his team from Century Club Charities, and our team here at CCJ all worked exceptionally well together for a successful 2014 tournament.” Joyce said to be a part of an event that raised over $1,000,000 for Blair Batson Children’s Hospital in its first year at the CCJ speaks volumes for everyone’s hard work. Jason Prendergast, head golf pro at CCJ, said following the Sanderson Farms PGA Championship, there were many comments regarding the quality of the greens as being some of the best the golfers have ever played. “Stanley Reedy, our golf course superintendent, has 30 plus years of experience in the South, and he and his team do a phenomenal job,” Prendergast said.

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3

MOST SCENIC COURSE

Dancing Rabbit Golf Club Philadelphia

Courtesy of MDA

2 courses double the fun — and beauty By BECKY GILLETTE mbj@msbusiness.com You not only get two golf courses in one location at the Dancing Rabbit Golf Course at Pearl River Resorts, you get two courses that have completely different looks. “When golfers come here, they are playing two courses that complement each other with different shots and looks,” said Mark A. Powell, director of golf, Dancing Rabbit Golf Course, Philadelphia. “If you go to many areas of the state, the courses are all similar. The Azaleas Golf Course cuts through creeks and valleys. The Oaks Course plays more up in the hills. It has more elevation change, open fields and rock formations.” There are about two miles of springfed creeks and streams woven between the Bermuda and Zosia fairways and gently rolling hills and valleys. Visitors enjoy the fact that there is so much to do within walking distance or, even easier, by riding in a golf cart. There are three hotels, two casinos and a resort with live entertainment every night. There are also a number of other amenities such as great restaurants, a fitness center and the Geyser Falls

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Dancing Rabbit Golf Club Year opened: Azaleas: 1997; Oaks: 1999 Designers: Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate Dues: None (public course) Greens fees: $60-$150 Yardage: Azaleas: 7,128 yards; Oaks: 7,076 yards Par: Both Par 72

Courtesy of Pearl River Resorts

Water Theme Park. “A lot of golfers like to stay in the clubhouse because it is so convenient,” Powell said. “There are golfers who come year after year because of that. They frequently remark about our great service and amenities.” Dancing Rabbit was created renowned golf course designer Tom Fazio and PGA great Jerry Pate. Powell said each of the 36 golf holes bears the indelible mark of the designers, while still retaining the character and grandeur of the Southern woodlands from which they were carved. Dancing Rabbit offers specials that can make it even more affordable to

Spring 2015

play, including doing GroupOn in the Jackson market and other local promotions. Room\golf combinations are reasonably priced. Owned and operated by the Mississippi Bank of Choctaw Indians, Dancing Rabbit has been named to a number of top golf club lists including being ranked No. 32 by Golf Magazine for the Top 100 Courses You can Play. Golfweek Magazine has named it to the Top 100 Best Resort Courses, and it has been named by Golf Magazine as The Augusta You Can Play. Readers of Mississippi Magazine chose it as the Best Course in the State.

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4

BEST PUBLIC COURSE

Shell Landing Golf Club Gautier

Shell Landing Golf Club Photo courtesy of Shell Landing

Enjoyment is paramount By BECKY GILLETTE mbj@msbusiness.com Shell Landing Golf Club provides a superior golfing experience that has led to it being consistently named one of the Top 10 golf courses in the state. Golf Digest has ranked Shell Landing seventh in the state, and Golfweek’s Best Courses lists it as No. 8. The overwhelming response from golfers after finishing a game at Shell Landing is that the course is fun to play, the staff appreciates you, and the course is awesome. “Shell Landing is unique in the fact that we are the only course south of U.S. 90 and have mostly marsh and wetland views surrounding the layout,” said Alan Walker, head professional/tournament sales, Shell Landing Golf Club. “The course is fair with ample room off the tee, but not to say it can’t be difficult. The green complexes are large and undulating, making for a variety of shot making requirements. Rolling fairways and great green complexes make for a challenge.” Another plus is that Shell Landing

is locally owned and operated, with at least one of its principal owners there almost daily. Walker said that makes customer feedback an integral part of their decision making. They work hard to give visitors a great experience. “We sincerely believe that if you enjoy your day with us, you will tell others,” Walker said. “That is what has happened and allowed us to grow.” Shell Landing has the feel of a national park and, in fact, is located not far away from the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Davis Bayou Headquarters. There are great opportunities for bird watching, and enjoying the meandering bayou views. At the right time of year, you might even see an alligator. “We have the best layout on the coast, the condition of the course is awesome, and we have price points that are fair,” Walker said. “Our daily golf rate includes unlimited golf, range, and a complimentary lunch. That has proven to be very popular. Customers appreciate the added value. ” Shell Landing has a staff that

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

includes three PGA professionals with a combined 76 years of experience. There facility includes a firstclass practice facility. A package deal is offered for play at the nearby Hickory Hills Country Club, where water comes into play on 10 holes. Hickory Hills provides special pricing to guests of the IP Casino, Resort & Spa, Biloxi. www.msbusiness.com

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5

BEST COUNTRY CLUB

Hattiesburg Country Club Hattiesburg

Photos courtesy of Hattiesburg Country Club

‘Little Augusta’ nears 100th anniversary By BECKY GILLETTE mbj@msbusiness.com The Hattiesburg County Club golf course is sometimes referred to as Little Augusta because of its rolling hills and classic country club layout. One of the oldest golf courses in the state, it initially opened in 1919 and hence is headed towards its 100th anniversary. The HCC takes pride in always keeping the course in good shape; the condition of it is always excellent. “Also, it is a good layout for the low handicapper and the high handicapper,” said David Allen, head golf pro at HCC. “The low handicapper from the back tees is going to get a challenge, but a high handicapper is not going to get beat up. It is going to be very fair for the high handicap player. People often talk about the playability of our golf course.” Allen said they place a high priority on taking care of customers. “Customer service is always a big point with us,” Allen said. The initial golf course was in downtown Hattiesburg, but it was moved to the present location in the 1950s after the clubhouse burned down. The golf course was redesigned by Max Maxwell

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Hattiesburg Country Club Year opened: 1919 Designer: Redesigned by Max Maxwell in 1999 Dues: $398 per month Greens fees: $60-$85 Yardage: 7,177 yards Par: 72

in 1999. “Ever since the redesign, it challenges you,” said Jason Berkey, assistant golf pro. “This course demands a lot of different shots. The greens are very contoured out from the tips. We have towering pine trees lining the fairways on every hole. We have a really pretty lake out there, too. Holes 3 and 13 bump up against a lake.” From 1968 to 1993, the HCC hosted the PGA Tour’s Magnolia Classic. The event was held in April during the same week as The Masters, and as a result, some of the biggest names in professional golf participated. Some were players who were just starting out in their careers or had not qualified for

Spring 2015

The Masters. Some of the more notable Magnolia Classic champions include Nick Faldo, Craig Stadler, Roger Maltbie, Russ Cochran, Jim Gallagher Jr., and the late Payne Stewart, who won his first Tour event at the HCC in 1982. Today the HCC hosts a large number of amateur events, and is a top destination for a lot of the collegiate players in the region. HCC has a golf practice facility with a king-sized driving range, a practice chipping green, and a practice putting green. The club also has a wealth of offerings besides golf with eight tennis courts, a swimming pool, a fitness center and an outstanding restaurant run by award winning chef Mark Jackson.

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6

BEST CASINO Fallen Oak Saucier COURSE

Courtesy of MDA

Redesign makes a top course even better By BECKY GILLETTE mbj@msbusiness.com Most of the land on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is fairly flat, so the amount of hills to be found at Fallen Oak Golf Club in Saucier might come as a bit of a surprise. The Tom Fazio-designed course is well regarded for a design that features scenic elevations changes of the type rarely seen on the Gulf Coast. Fallen Oak has received about 32 national honors for the design of the course that is located about 15 minutes north of Biloxi next to the DeSoto National Forest. The golf course was built exclusively for guests of the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi. “We built Fallen Oak to draw golf enthusiasts from all over the world,” said Fallen Oak General Manager David Stinson. “What attracts golfers here are the unique bunkering, the beautiful live oaks, and the exclusivity of playing an MGM family golf course.” The course is reopen now after closing for about four months in 2014 for an enhancement project that involved reshaping and moving some bunkers while planting and repositioning more than 15 live oak trees that are hallmark to the Fallen Oak golf experience. The changes were designed to make play easier for the average to high handicap golfer, while making it more challenging

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

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Courtesy of Fallen Oak

Spring 2015

for the good golfer. Fazio said that the strategic improvements add to the reputation of Fallen Oak as a premier golf experience that can stand against the best courses in the country. Regular infrastructure maintenance has included rebuilding and installing new sand in the course’s signature bunkers using state-of-the-art construction techniques and materials. Fallen Oak has been well received by golfers, leading to it being named one of the two best casino golf courses in the U.S. by Golfweek Magazine. It has been ranked number 26 on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play list. Fallen Oak has played host to the Champions Tour’s Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic since 2010. Past champions include Jeff Maggert, Michael Allen, Fred Couples, Tom Lehman and David Eger. Tournament Director Steve Nieman said this is one of the player’s favorite events on the Champions Tour schedule. “They look forward to playing Fallen Oak just weeks before The Masters, and they genuinely enjoy spending time on the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast and experiencing the southern hospitality we’re famous for in Mississippi,” Nieman said.

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7

BEST STATE PARK COURSE

Quail Hollow Percy Quin State Park, McComb

Courtesy of Quail Hollow

Experience that’ll ‘knock your socks off’ By BECKY GILLETTE mbj@msbusiness.com Quail Hollow Golf Course at Percy Quin State Park is sometimes referred to as a “hidden gem” even though it is located only about a mile from Interstate 55 about six miles south of McComb. The course gets a lot of accolades for its scenic beauty and peacefulness from being located in one of Mississippi’s premier state parks, which is built surrounding the 700-acre Lake Tangipahoa. “Quail Hollow has the best layout of any course in South Mississippi,” said Andrew Edgerley, superintendent and general manager, Quail Hollow Golf Course. “It offers something completely different as far as topography and the setting as opposed to other courses in the area. It is a peaceful and tranquil environment. There is a lot of wildlife. You can step away from the noise and stress of the big city and enjoy a round of golf.” It may be the most affordable course in the state. You usually won’t find a greens fee

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Quail Hollow Golf Course Year course opened: 1996 Designer: Arthur Hills Dues: Annual pass, $1,300; corporate annual pass, $1,800 for two. Greens fees: $31 Mon.-Thurs.; $37 Fri.-Sun.; $30 seniors. Yardage: Almost 6,753 yards Par: 72

with a cart for anything close to these prices. In addition to low greens fees, there are annual passes available for just a little over a $1,300 per year. “And the experience you get will knock your socks off,” said golf course employee Matt Thompson. “We get a lot of traffic from south of the state line in Louisiana. We had the greens redone a year and a half ago and they have had time to grow in. People say that this course is truly a joy to play.” The golf course goes through terrain marked by loblolly pines, magnolia trees, rolling hills and seasonal wildflowers. Nearly every tee shot has an

Spring 2015

elevated view. The mild weather of South Mississippi makes year around golf possible. In fact, golfing might be more fun in the cooler months than in the heat of the summer. During the cooler months the course is particularly popular with snowbirds who enjoy spending part of the winter in the nearby Percy Quin State Park campground. The golf course is rarely crowded. The pace is relaxed and peaceful. And the course is kept in great shape. There are also pavilions available for group events like corporate retreats or family reunions, and villas available for rental off the golf course.

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

BEST OF THE REST Compiled by Becky Gillette course is in a great location, and is known for consistency and excellent customer service combined with great food and atmosphere. The course designed by architect and PGA TOUR professional Mark McCumber is well-regarded for a layout that plays well for all skill levels. Timberton has consistently been recognized by golf's most respected publications since its opening in 1991.

Clarksdale Country Club The Annadale Golf Club Madison — Just as Jack Nicklaus is considered one of golf’s greats, The Annadale Golf Club located in Madison designed by Nicklaus has long been considered one of the state’s best golf courses and one that has definitely stood the test of time. Little has changed since the course was built in 1981 other than converting from Bentgrass greens to Bermuda. In addition to being located on a beautiful piece of land, Annadale is often recognized for its commitment to excellent customer service.

Clarksdale — Known for having some of the best greens anywhere and a great layout, the Clarksdale Country Club is considered a fun challenge on a course initially established in 1921. In addition to the 18-hole golf course, the Clarksdale Country Club has a driving range and putting greens, plus lessons and clinics for all ages and abilities of golfers. The club also has eight tennis courts, a fitness center and an Olympic size pool.

Reunion Golf & Country Club

Ole Miss Golf Course Oxford — This is one university golf course that you won’t want to miss. Lush landscaping and upscale buildings such as the clubhouse give the feel of a college campus. A golf course redesign in 2008 was named one of the “Top Five Renovations In America” by Golf Inc. Magazine. With all the athletic and cultural events surrounding Oxford, there are plenty of reasons to visit. Oxford has been named by USA Today as one of the Top Six College Towns in America.

Grand Bear Golf Course Saucier — Operated by Caesar’s, Grand Bear Golf course winds through protected coastal wetlands with the Big Biloxi River bordering one side of the property, and the Little Biloxi River along the other side. The course also includes a 6.5-acre lake. The 1,700-acre golf course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is surrounding by the DeSoto National Forest. A wide diversity of hole layouts makes the course challenging, yet enjoyable for players of all skill levels.

Madison — Reunion is one the state’s largest planned communities, and at its heart is the 18hole Reunion golf course designed by Bob Cupp. Reunion likes to point out that it is a “community,” not just a golf club, that provides Southern golf at its finest. That atmosphere extends from the golf course into the clubhouse, fitness center, tennis facilities, swimming pool and fitness center.

Tupelo Country Club

Timberton Golf Club Hattiesburg — Timberton Golf Club gets rave reviews for having it all. The well-maintained

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Spring 2015

Tupelo — The layout of the Tupelo Country Club has made it a favorite for many prestigious events over the years. It has hosted the Men’s State Amateur Championship many times. The course is set on a rolling terrain marked with towering pine and oak trees. It has been said to have perhaps the best collection of par 3’s of any course in the state. The club prides itself upon maintaining a genuine, Southern-style ambiance with a friendly and efficient staff and great food. Recent additions include a par three course and seven new Clay Hydro tennis www.msbusiness.com

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TOP PRO SHOP

Country Club of Jackson By BECKY GILLETTE mbj@msbusiness.com The Country Club of Jackson Pro Shop is not only the largest in the state covering 2,100 square feet, it is also staffed by people who can help customers figure out which products will best serve them. “We are fortunate to be well supported by our 1,100 members,” said Jason Prendergast, the head golf professional at CCJ. “But at the end of day what makes us successful is my staff. They are the ones who deliver the message that helps someone decide, for example, if they would be happy with a $55 golf shirt or would prefer a high performance golf shirt that costs $95.” Prendergast’s employees include Taylor Navin, first assistant golf professional, Ryan Cooper, assistant golf professional, and Emily Beal, merchan-

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Courtesy of CCJ

Jason Prendergast is head pro at the Country Club Jackson and runs the Pro Shop that cover 2,100 square feet. dising assistant. They strive to provide as much information as the customer wants, along with a relaxed buying environment. The large shop allows them to have an informal sitting area where golfers

Spring 2015

can enjoy watching the Golf Channel while waiting for a golf partner to show up. And it allows a wide and diverse line of merchandise including six different men’s clothing vendors. Prendergast builds his shop around “home run” vendors of balls, equipment and clothing. But he also likes to gamble on new items. “A lot of new stuff is introduced every year,” said Prendergast, who has been at the CCJ for 10 years. “It is nice to be on the front end. It’s very important to bring new items in and to change things up.” The clothing and shoe lines that are the regular best sellers every year are FootJoy and Nike. New to the pro shop this year are Peter Millar, and Dunning Golf Major brands of balls and equipment handled include Titleist, Callaway, Cobra, Taylor Made and Ping.

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GOLF MISSISSIPPI

TOP TEACHING PRO By BECKY GILLETTE mbj@msbusiness.com Golfers ranging from professionals Jim Gallagher, Jr., Brian Henninger and Jonathan Randolph to top college players like Ally McDonald and Chad Ramey and even beginning golfers have found in Old Waverly Golf Club’s V. J. Trolio an instructor who helps hone their skills and improve their game. Long recognized as one of Mississippi best golf instructors, Trolio recently was named by Golf Magazine as one of the Top 100 Instructors in America. Trolio has also been named as Golf Digest’s Best Young Teachers and Top 40 Under 40. “We have a spectacular teaching program at Old Waverly anchored by our two instructors,” said Chris Jester, director of golf, Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point. “V. J. Trolio is our full swing instructor and Tim Yelverton is a short game specialist. Tim was named by Golf Digest as one

V.J. Trolio, Old Waverly

of the Best Teachers in the State. Tim has also won the Gulf States Section Player Development Award and Junior Golf Leader Award. Both Tim and V.J. are excellent players and use their year of V.J. Trolio experience to help golfers of all levels, from beginner to the PGA Tour.” Trolio started working at the Waverly Teaching Center in 2002. Since that time two USGA SemiFinalists, two Web.com champions, a runner-up on the PGA Tour and many other of the game’s best players have found success using the technology, coaching, and instruction The Teaching Center offers, Jester said. Trolio said there is no such thing as a perfect swing — there is only a perfect swing for a particular shot. He says don’t complicate the game by swinging this way or what way a certain way without understanding what “this way”

or “that way” will do to the shot. Trolio, who wrote a book on the art of teaching junior golf, oversees the Old Waverly’s Junior Golf Cottage that provides an intensive two-, three- and four-day camps. Junior golfers stay in the cottage that sleeps eight junior golfers and two counselors. The junior golf program is designed to teach golfers “how to” rather than “what to.” “They will experience goal setting, skill building, and the transfer of that skill,” Jester said. “They will learn the difference between targeting and aiming. They will learn how to practice by objective rather than just beating on golf balls with no purpose. They will learn the importance of a routine rather than having a mind full of swing thoughts. They will learn the importance of reinforcing each shot, each practice session, and each tournament.” This year, Old Waverly will be creating camps for juniors and their own PGA Professionals. This allows young players and PGA professional to work side-by-side when scheduling allows.

Contact an event manager at

662.280.9120 4560 Venture Drive • Southaven, MS 38671

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TOP 19TH HOLE

Fallen Oak, Saucier Fallen Oak’s clubhouse continues to get rave reviews for being one of the “Top 19th Holes” among top courses in the country. In 2013, that clubhouse was voted one of the “19 Best 19th Holes in Golf” by Golf Magazine. And that same year it made a similar list on Sports Illustrated’s golf.com website which listed the bar as number six, behind Dunvegan Hotel and Lounge Bar at St. Andrew’s in Scotland. “Fallen Oak is a low-key, Old South treat,” said Sports Illustrated. The clubhouse, built to resemble an Acadian-style Southern mansion, has a sunken bar with large windows overlooking the 18th hole, which is located next to a picturesque lake and the namesake for the resort, a huge fallen live oak tree. The clubhouse houses a pro shop and locker facilities. The lounge and restaurant feature top-level dining with a panoramic view of the 18th hole. — Becky Gillette

Courtesy of Fallen Oak

Sports Illustrated named Fallen Oak one of the top 19th holes in the country.

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TUBING

Just relax

Creative Commons/Flickr

The Bogue Chitto River provides a scenic way to float downstream and enjoy Mississippi’s outdoor offerings.

Planning can increase tubing trip fun By LISA MONTI mbj@msbusiness.com

T

UBING DOWN a cool, tranquil river on a sunny day is a relaxing, satisfying way to enjoy some of Mississippi’s scenic streams, creeks and rivers, including the popular Bogue Chitto River. According to the state’s visitmississippi.org website, the river flows through the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge in southern Mississippi, cutting through forestlands known for natural beauty and prime wildlife watching. Short tubing trips down the river begin at the Bogue Chitto Water Park, where several outfitters cater to those who want to get out on the water when the weather conditions are right. The water park is in a 230-acre wildlife refuge east of McComb off Highway 98. It also offers swimming, fishing, boating, canoeing and kayaking. (boguechittowaterpark.com) Outfitters include Bogue Chitto’s Best Tube & Canoe, Bogue Chitto Choo Choo Canoe Rental and Ryals Canoe and Tube Rental, all in McComb. Others are Canoe and Trail Outpost and Sweetwater Park

and Canoe Renting in Tylertown. You can rent a familiar basicblack inner tubes or the newer models, depending on your vendor. Some tubes are accessorized with a headrest, cupholder and places to store your stuff. Even double tubes with an onboard cooler are available in some places. To make your float trip, and the ride home, comfortable, wear a hat and sunscreen or lotion and lip balm to prevent burning. Remember to reapply the products often once you’re under way. Comfortable clothing is advised, too, besides a swim suit for protection from the sun. Just don’t wear anything you don’t want soaked with river water and coated with sand. Some operators advise wearing a pair of water shoes or old tennis shoes that can take being soaked. Either will protect your feet from hidden dangers and keep you comfortable at the same time. Also, bring a towel and a change of clothes so you can dry off comfortably. A large plastic bag is useful for storing your wet clothing for the trip back home. Leave your valuables at home or store them in a locker if one is available where you rent the tube.

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Spring 2015

That will prevent lost car keys, cellphones, jewelry and eye glasses while you’re on the float trip. Another alternative against loss is storing valuables in a waterproof container made especially for the tubing environment. You can also use a plastic storage bag as a backup. Operators want to keep the environment free of trash so ask about rules for bringing a cooler and beverages. Most don’t allow glass bottles or styrofoam containers. Opt for safe, plastic containers, some of which float along on their own tubes. And don’t forget to pack lots of water among your beverages to stay hydrated. Portable snacks — things that travel well like chips and fruit — are good to have for munching along the way. For something more substantial, sandwiches or pieces of fried chicken can be packed in plastic bags. Have trash bags with you to keep everything tidy. More information about tubing Mississippi’s rivers is available from the Scenic River Development Alliance, a regional alliance that promotes events and outdoor activities in Southwest Mississippi. Call 601-684-7661 or email info@visitscenicrivers.com.

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CASINOS

Improvements you can bet on Frank Brown / The Mississippi Business Journal

Harrah’s Gulf Coast has opened the Great Lawn to host concerts and events on the beach. It is at the site of the Biloxi Grand that was destroyed by Katrina.

Gulf Coast recovers from losing streak By LISA MONTI mbj@msbusiness.com HE MISSISSIPPI Gaming Commission’s yearend report prepared for the state Legislature pointed out that a bright spot in a year of floods and competition was the fact that the Coast has had a tremendous amount of reinvestment spent on construction and renovations at nine of its 11 casinos. Adding to the momentum of the Coast market is the increase in revenue at the 11 Coast casinos which has been on the increase for the past year. In January 2015, revenue was $87.3 million, up 7 percent from the previous January. For the year 2014, Coast revenue was $1,078,635,757, up from 2013’s revenue of $1,066,855,458.

T Frank Brown / The Mississippi Business Journal

Hard Rock Casino has opened a new hotel tower.

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Frank Brown / The Mississippi Business Journal

The Golden Nugget’s renovation created a new pool area with a swim-up bar. “The gaming market has been very healthy here on the Coast,” said Duncan McKenzie, the General Manager of IP Casino Resort Spa in Biloxi. The Gaming Commission’s report showed the Coast’s strength “in large part due to the quality of casinos but also as

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CASINOS an indication of how well our tourism industry is faring. It’s been10 years since Katrina and we have made great recovery. There are great signs to point out including the building of a minor league stadium in Biloxi. I am very optimistic about the future of the tourism industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” According to the Gaming Commission report the reinvestment and renovation at the Coast properties includes a hotel tower addition under construction at Silver Slipper and the new hotel tower completed at Hard Rock. The Golden Nugget underwent a multimillion dollar transformation and Beau Rivage had VIP renovations and added new bunkers at its Fallen Oak golf course as the MGM Park minor league baseball stadium is under construction across U.S. 90 from the resort. Treasure Bay has remodeled suites and new carpet and new furniture in its common areas. Hollywood Casino added a lazy river and IP remodeled its hotel rooms as well. Harrah’s Gulf Coast added the Great Lawn beachfront venue and Island View Casino is renovating a hotel tower that was wiped out by Katrina. When it opens April 29, Island View’s new Beach Tower will add nearly 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including hospitality suites overlooking the Gulf. “The new Beach Tower will offer visitors many delicious and intriguing reasons to visit the Gulf Coast,” said Cathy Beeding Mackenzie, vice president and general counsel at Island View. “From the incredible beach club, with direct access to our beaches - a first for the Coast – to the suites showcasing floor-to-ceiling views of the Gulf of Mexico to new restaurants that continue to up the ante for foodies, the Beach Tower will feature many unique aspects, making it a ‘must-stay' resort in South Mississippi.” Said IP’s McKenzie, “People believe in this market for good reason and many things are bearing out their predictions. I’m very happy where tourism and the gaming markets are headed.”

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 Harrah’s Gulf Coast 265 Beach Blvd. 800-946-2946 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino 777 Beach Boulevard 877-877-6256 Imperial Palace 850 Bayview Avenue 800-436-3000 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 3300 W. Beach Blvd 800-817-9089

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Frank Brown / The Mississippi Business Journal

Besides VIP renovations, Beau Rivage has improved its golf course and helped attract a Minor League Baseball team to Biloxi.

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 2015

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

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BASEBALL

A Mississippi

Double Play! Shuckers join Braves as Southern League By LISA MONTI mbj@msbusiness.com

F

ANS OF BASEBALL — the stats-loving, serious fans and those equally fond of hot dogs and home runs — now have two minor league teams to root for in the state. The Mississippi Braves are the Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves and have been in Mississippi since 2005. The Shuckers are the Double-A affiliated of the Milwaukee Brewers and will begin their first season on the Coast in 2015. Both teams are part of the Southern League. The M-Braves are at home at Trustmark Park in the Jackson area and the brand new Biloxi Shuckers will take to the field at MGM Park when it opens this year. While Shuckers’ fans wait for their own ballpark experience, they can look forward to enjoying game days and many other activities at MGM Park. Details aren’t available yet but a team spokesman said, “We know we will have things and amenities for every age group and great food that will feature a taste of the Coast as well as ballpark favorites.” The city of Biloxi plans to host 10 events a year in the 6,000-seat open air stadium, including concerts and other entertainment productions. There are also plans

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for the “Game Day Experience” on opening day including a giant tailgate party to welcome the team to Biloxi. Shuckers players and coaches will be on hand to meet fans and sign autographs and there will be other baseball activities for fans of all ages to enjoy. Game day for Mississippi baseball fans is always a fun experience that families and friends can enjoy, and options run the gamut from affordable seats to luxury suites. At Trustmark Park, Braves fans who come to the ballpark with family and friends can find several levels of activities on game day, including watching all the action from inside a luxury suite. M-Braves tickets start at $6 for general admission and go up to $8 for field level, $12 for dugout level, $15 for home plate level and $20 for club level tickets. Group discounts are available. Concessions are plentiful. Yes, you can find peanuts and Cracker Jack, plus burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, nachos, fries, onion rings, pizza, cheese sticks and other ballpark fare. The Farm Bureau Grill is also open in right field for those who prefer a full service restaurant. Private picnics are an option and can be held on the stadium party decks or in the picnic pavilion at the stadium. Birthday parties and other celebrations for a minimum

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions


BASEBALL

ro Photo Courtesy of Ae Courtesy of M ississippi Brav es

Construction continues on the new home, left, for the Biloxi Shuckers. The Mississippi Braves, meanwhile, have played at Trustmark Park in Pearl since the 2005 season.

expands in state of 10 guests start at $150 and include a game ticket, food, drinks, an M-Braves cap and entry into a fun zone. Fans can host picnics and parties within Trustmark Park. The Bud Light Picnic Pavilion on the left field side is a two-level area with picnic table seating for a minimum of 100 people and up to 325. Mitchell Signs 1st and 3rd Base party decks accommodate 30 to 50 guests. For those who want to watch a game in high style with family or friends, or who want to entertain clients and colleagues, luxury suites are available for rent. Among the amenities are the services of the wait staff, flat screen TVs, food and beverages from the catering department and private seating to watch the game. Regular suites on the first and third base sides of the field rent for $600 a night and can hold up to 24. The price includes 16 tickets. The super suite for groups up to 64 is $1,500 a night and includes 40 tickets. Guests can relax on couches and love seats and watch two big screen televisions. And it doesn’t have to be a game day to meet at the park. The small conference room is available for business meetings, the grill area hosts cocktail receptions and large company gatherings such as employee picnics or even weddings are held at Trustmark Park. Full food and beverage service is available to round out various events.

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions

Spring 2015

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CONVENTIONS

COURTING CONVENTIONS

File photo / Mississippi Business Journal

Events at the Jackson Convention Complex helped the city host 219 conventions, with 2.81 million visitors and an economic impact of almost $300 million.

Just mention beaches, casinos and Elvis By LISA MONTI mbj@msbusiness.com ISSISSIPPI HOSTS millions of visitors every year who come for a leisurely vacation or to tend to business at meetings and conventions. In 2013, the state pulled in more than 21 million people, and tourism officials are working hard to bring more visitors to their part of Mississippi by touting their particular amenities and attractions. The regions of Mississippi are distinct and the attractive features of each are diverse as well. The Coast has beaches and casinos, Natchez boasts history, Jackson offers metropolitan amenities and Tupelo has Elvis. “Our unique offsite venues make Tupelo an exceptional location for meetings and conventions,” said Jan Pannell, meetings sales manager at the

M

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Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Where else can you meet among 100 classic and antique cars or kick off your convention from the front porch of the birthplace of the King of Rock ‘N Roll?” The economic impact of all those visitors is significant in any size market. Pannell said Tupelo hosted 24 conferences, conventions and meetings with 12,289 participants and saw an economic impact of $1,577,593. Jackson had 219 conventions and 2.81 million visitors who had an economic impact estimated at $298 million for the period October 2013 to September 2014. The city boasts a central geographic location, 5,000 hotel rooms, large facilities to accommodate conventions and meetings, more than 300 restaurants and attractions including museums and parks. Renee Areng, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau, said

Spring 2015

Courtesy of Mississippi Development Authority

Elvis Presley, shown in this statue “Elvis at 13,” plays a big role in attracting conventions to Tupleo.

’COME SEE US’– Tourism, Meetings & Conventions


CONVENTIONS

MISSISSIPPI

Courtesy of Gulf Coast CVB

The Gulf Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi is home to many conventions and meetings, as well as concerts and sports events. that in 2013 the Coast hosted a total of 5.5 million visitors who spent nearly $2 billion. She said specific numbers on conventions aren’t available because most CVBs only keep track of the leads and bookings it generates. The Coast CVB promotes South Mississippi as a tourism and convention destination worldwide and the staff works to attract ever-increasing numbers of leisure, convention, sports and business visitors. Areng said the Coast team goes after a mix of group business based on flow and demands “from Coast-wide based at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center to hotel specific groups. Ideally, we pursue weekday meetings and events. Off-peak season includes cool weather months and when there is more availability over the weekends.” She said the Coast CVB staff attends trade shows, subscribes to referral services including CVENT and conducts sales missions in target markets. The staff at the Jackson Convention Bureau targets associations, religious groups, sporting, equine, medical, tours

and reunions of all sizes. The JCVB offers services to make sure conventions run smoothly and successfully. The staff will work with hotels or restaurants to find available space, rates, accommodations and dates for a meeting and help line up tours, transportation or programs for spouses or children. They also will supply maps and promotional materials on area attractions, restaurants and tours to include in registration packets and can help promote events through social media and press releases. Tupelo’s Pannell said she networks with meeting planners from across the Southeast by attending conferences and conventions, participating in trade shows and making calls on decision makers for these corporate events. “We strategically target state association executives and meeting planners who will make the decision to meet in a certain destination,” Pannell said. “Tupelo is a leader in progressive thinking in the state of Mississippi. We offer visitors the chance to be inspired by this progressive community. We want to be the center of positivity for meeting planners.”

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