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APRIL 2018 // FREE

‘Tis the season of festivals, new beginnings, and adventure! Venture South as Mississippi becomes the stage for the International Ballet Competition. The region prepares for an abundance of outdoor festivals.

Meridian becomes the home of a new state-of-the-art museum dedicated to Mississippi artists.

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I Publisher

Jason Niblett

By Anna Griffing

Production Manager & Graphic Design

Anna Griffing

Contributing Photographers If you’re anything like my bloodhound Boomer, then this time of year might not be your favorite. Everyone is out there celebrating spring while you’re driving the struggle bus trying to keep your allergies under control with ineffectual medicine and some prayer. It’s difficult to appreciate the beauty in springtime when the pollen invades your senses and slowly chokes you to death, and the constant eye irritation makes you puffy and teary-eyed against your will. Eventually, the invading pollen will make you kind of even look like Boomer (pictured right) and going outside just doesn’t seem worth it. Luckily for us, God gave us azaleas. Azaleas are a southern staple. This time of year, you pretty much can’t go anywere without seeing them all over the place. They come in a variety of beautiful pinks and purples, and even in different sizes. And they grow to massive, monstrous creatures that will take over the world.

I’ve seen people who have seven azalea bushes in their yard. Where’s their house? I don’t know, because the azaleas ate it. My azalea bush is almost as tall as my house–even after having pruned it. I watched as one person tried to pull clippings from their shrub (from on top of a ladder, because azaleas are huge) and briefly feared for their life.v If they fell in, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to save them. All joking aside, despite the suffering that spring brings those with allergies (Sorry, Jason!) you can’t deny that the scenery makes it even the tiniest bit worth it.

Anna Griffing is the graphic designer and production manager of Venture South Magazine. She may be reached at

City & Counties Featured Jason Niblett

Contributing Writers Jill Deakle Engitshun Magee Nkrumah Frazier Anna Griffing Chloe Lott


Kevin Dearmon Jill Deakle

Debra Jefcoat

Venture South Magazine is published monthly by Venture South Media LLC. Laurel, Mississippi Pine Belt: 601-909-0990 Meridian: 601-453-1377 Gulf Coast: 228-207-1606 North Mississippi: 662-830-8333 email:

© All rights reserved. Contents of this magazine may not be reproduced in any manner without written consent from the publisher. Venture South Media LLC/Venture South Magazine cannot be held liable for errors and omissions. Copies are available at locations throughout south Mississippi.

Jackson, Mississippi is the only American location in which the Internation Ballet Competition takes place, an honor which comes only once every four years. Cover design by Anna Griffing

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THE ‘MAX’ IN MISSISSIPPI’S PRIDE 12 A stunning new museum featuring Mississippi legends is unveiled.







The March of Dimes raises money and awareness for children born with complications.

The South gears up for crawfish season by organizing all manner of festivals, boils, and cook-offs.

Downtown Collins prepares for its 29th annual Okatoma Festival.


Jackson becomes the stage for the International Ballet Competition, returning after four years.


Holly Springs is a picturesque, historical 38 weekend destination.


Plan your next adventure! Q 9

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The ‘MAX’ in Mississippi’s Pride

Story by Jason Niblett Artist renderings provided by the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience

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The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience will be housed in a 59,000 sq. ft. new, modern building in downtown Meridian, Mississippi. Q 13


THINGS TO KNOW Grand Opening: April 28

Hours of Operation: Tuesdays – Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Closed Mondays Closed New Years Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving Day, & Christmas Day Admission: $14 for adults (18–64) $12 for students (with ID), Seniors (65+), & active military $8, youth (6–17) Free for children 5 & under Free for members $8 for groups of 10 or more

If there’s one thing most people would agree upon it’s that our state is the home of legends, From the sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico to the flat, rich soil of the Delta, there are stories and people that can make others from any part of the world gasp in amazement. That’s Mississippi? Absolutely. Although there are some fantastic museums in Mississippi already, it’s a new attraction in Meridian that’s sure to amaze visitors with a high-tech, unique approach to teaching about these legends. “What I think is really special is it’s a tribute to really phenomenal talent coming from Mississippi,” explained Director of Marketing Paula Chance. “The beauty is all of this is in one place now.” With a grand opening planned for April 28, Chance said the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience in Downtown Meridian was not developed to compete against other museums and facilities, but to enhance them. “A lot of artists have their own museums,” she said. “It’s sort of a gateway to explore the rest of Mississippi.” Guests will experience Mississippi greats such as B. B. King from the Delta, Walter Anderson from the Gulf Coast, and more than 250 other Mississippians. There will be a Hall of Fame gallery and intriguing exhibitions, including a section designed as a church featuring gospel music. Sure there will be artifacts and historic items, but there will be plenty of interactive aspects throughout the huge facility. Guests will also find a recording studio, art studios, and rotating galleries.

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Getting there: From I-20/59: Take Exit 153 (22nd Ave.) toward downtown Meridian. Turn right onto Front Street immediately after crossing the 22nd Avenue bridge. The MAX is on the right.



Parking: Street parking is available downtown & in parking lots along Front Street.

The MAX Store: The MAX Store is open during museum hours and carries a variety of items unique to the museum’s exhibits. Refreshments: The MAX does not have a restaurant or café, but snacks and beverages can be purchased in the gift shop. Food and beverages may be brought to the museum for consumption in designated areas only on a first-come, first-serve basis. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted. Guided Tours: Guided tours are available by reservation. Q 15



TALENT COMING FROM MISSISSIPPI. 16, Above: The MAX amphitheater is a space suitable for outdoor concerts and other events.

16, Below: Visitors to the Juke Joint gallery will be immersed in the sights and sounds of a Mississippi music club. Many Mississippi music legends got their start in local music clubs and this gallery will allow guests the opportunity to experience these performances. 17: People are influenced by their personal lives and their time at home. In the living room gallery, guests will learn about quilters, stitchery artists and writers that have used their home life as inspiration in their arts.

DOS & DONT’S Photography is permitted throughout the museum.

No flash photography permitted. Some changing exhibits may not permit photography.

All children under the age of 16 must be supervised. Shoes and shirts are required.

Household pets are not allowed.

Service dogs, emotional support dogs, and therapy dogs are allowed. Accessibility: A limited number of wheelchairs are available.

A quiet room is available for youth and adults with sensory or autistic sensitivity to sound or light. Assisted listening devices are provided for the hearing impaired. All restrooms are equipped with an accessible stall.

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Exhibits and galleries will also focus on what influenced the artists, such as Mississippi’s land, churches, people and places, communities, and the home. “It’s about Mississippian’s influencing the world,” she said. “It’s not your usual museum. We are not a ‘collecting’ museum. It’s not just about artifacts, but really about high-tech interactions. It’s a great destination for every age.” Another exciting feature of The MAX is its very unique educational program. Early plans call for a two week program for high school students to attend sessions in art or music. These students would leave with a portfolio. “We have a strong education department,” Chance said. “Some is still under development.” Opening week is scheduled for April 27 through May 5, but some events are private, including a celebration gala. For more information, visit Top: From the coastline to the red hills to Delta flatlands, artists continually find inspiration in the land.

The Church represents more than religious faith. It is a rich source of inspiration, and often the first place where an artist’s creativity is expressed in a public setting.

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Middle: The people gallery will allow visitors to explore artist communities around Mississippi and create their own cultural trail guides which will assist in planning cultural tours throughout Mississippi. Bottom: Explore the many ways Mississippians have influenced creativity around the world, and in every area of the arts. Q 19



RAISING AWARENESS Story by Jason Niblett Photographs submitted by Caitlyn Broome

Five minutes. That’s all that stood between a precious baby boy and his terrified mother from dying. Only 300 ticks of the secondhand stood between a celebration of a new life and planning funerals. Five minutes was enough, thanks to a mother’s intuition, an expert medical team, research from the March of Dimes, and some Heavenly intervention. Up until the faithful day, Caitlyn Broome’s pregnancy was normal. She was still working, and all of her checkups were good. “My pregnancy was very healthy the entire time until the day everything happened,” the Pascagoula resident explained. Broome explained that she knew something wasn’t quite right on the day of Asher’s birth. She was at work. She said she noticed her stomach becoming very hard with a lot of pressure below belly button. She called her OB/GYN, and then talked with her mother. She went home and got into a fetal position in extreme pain. She

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finally decided to go to the emergency room at Singing River Hospital and met Dr. Tyler Sexton. “We were only there eight minutes before they figured out what was happening,” she said. “They couldn’t find a heartbeat and performed an emergency C-Section. I arrived there and the baby was out in 20 minutes. Five more minutes and neither me nor Asher would be here. I went to the hospital, and I’m so glad I did.” The baby arrived at only 27 weeks, weighing less than five pounds. He suffered from sepsis and a brain bleed and spent his first weeks fighting for life in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). Asher would be transferred to the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital, in nearby Mobile. He had seizures and possible brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. Then, his mother explained that he received an overdose of medicine and was in a coma for three weeks. One day, he opened his eyes. “It was wonderful,” his mother said. “All that relief, all that worry went away. As soon as I saw his eyes, a lot of weight was off my shoulders.” Just recently, Asher celebrated his first birthday. “He’s good,” the mother said. “He’s perfectly happy and a wonderful baby.” She and her husband, Robby, along with baby Asher, were asked to be this year’s March of Dimes March for Babies Ambassador Family. Since March of Dimes research and the medical teams at Singing River Hospital and USA had helped save their baby’s life, they enthusiastically agreed. “I feel it’s important for others to know our story,” she said. “Other mothers and doctors should know what to look for. They’re wonderful. Bridget (Turan, March of Q 21

Dimes development manager) and I talk every single day. They’re amazing, and they help a lot.” Tyler Sexton, M.D., Chair of Pediatrics at Singing River Hospital, serves as the South Mississippi March for Babies chair. He was a premature infant born with cerebral palsy and is a champion for babies born with complications and the critically important work of the March of Dimes in treating them. Recently featured on ABC News 20/20, Dr. Sexton was one of a handful of physicians across the country who inspired the hit television series “The Good Doctor.” “Breakthroughs in research and treatment for newborns are changing everything we know about premature births, birth defects and congenital conditions,” Dr. Sexton said. “March of Dimes accelerates our progress and I’m proud to partner with them this year to support the cause. I believe that a spirit is more important than a broken body and fighting for that spirit is what it’s all about.” This year’s March for Babies is scheduled for April 21 at Point Cadet in Biloxi. On-site registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the three-mile walk kicking off at 9 a.m. Support-

ers can sign up today at southmississippi. Start a team with one’s company, family or friends. Supporters can also donate directly because every baby deserves the best possible start. “The March for Babies community bands together to fight for the health of all moms and babies,” Turan said. “We raise funds and awareness so that we can solve even the toughest problems. Every March for Babies participant is a leader who has the power to make a huge difference for families.” Venture South Magazine is proud to be a sponsor of this year’s March for Babies event. Other sponsors include national supports KMart, Famous Footwear, Macy’s, HCA, Cigna, Pampers and regional sponsor Publix Super Markets, Inc. In our community, March for Babies is sponsored by Ingalls Shipyard, Singing River Health System, Keesler Federal Credit Union, Garden Park Medical Center, Memorial Women & Children Services, Chemours, Gulf Coast Women Magazine, WLOX TV and Venture South Magazine.


the MAX

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IT’S MUDBUG SEASON Story by Jill Deakle

A lot of people look forward to the coming of spring because of warming weather and blooming flowers. In Mississippi, there is another reason to look forward to the spring: crawfish season. South Mississippi particularly is fond of crawfish events. For more than two decades, the Crawfish Music Festival has been held in Biloxi at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. This year’s festival takes place April 19 - 22. The festival features hot boiling crawfish for purchase by the plate; crawfish cook-off where teams faceoff to win cash and trophies; food vendors that specialize in Cajun and crawfish dishes; midway rides for the whole family; and a fantastic line-up of musical entertainment. More than 55,000 people are expected to attend. “The Crawfish Music Festival is only one weekend this year,” said Kendra Simpson, director of marketing and entertainment at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center. “Admission is free on Thursday, April 19, and unlimited ride armbands can be purchased in advance at a discount price. We also have weekend passes and ticket packages that include the unlimited ride armbands and/or boiled crawfish.” Quality Poultry and Seafood is a Biloxibased company that has been in operation since the 1950s. In addition to providing poultry and seafood to businesses all over South Mississippi, they have a seafood market that features a cafe and crawfish boils for coastal casinos, along with special events all over the coast and north to areas like Hattiesburg. According to Business Manager Jim Gunkel, they

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have been cooking crawfish for the event for approximately seven years. “It’s a good event for us and the community,” said Gunkel. “There is a lot of good local talent that performs and actually gets their careers started here. “All our crawfish is sold by the plate with corn and potatoes. We also have a four inch link of sausage that people can purchase for a small extra charge.” The Crawfish Cook-off is on Saturday, April 21, and gives crawfish boilers the chance to win prizes with winners chosen by both the judges and the people. Those in attendance at the festival can purchase a ticket to taste the results from the competition from 1 until 4 p.m. and vote in the people’s choice category. “We usually have 25 to 30 teams competing in the cook-off,” said Simpson. “We also have 10 to 15 food vendors on hand that have unique crawfish dishes like crawfish beignets.” Q 25

Besides hot, boiled crawfish, the musical entertainment is a huge draw to the festival. “Our headline entertainment is phenomenal this year with Old Dominion, Jamey Johnson, Cody Jinks, and Jon Pardi,” said Simpson. Johnson and Jinks are the two biggest acts people are excited to see, according to Simpson. Johnson, an Alabama native, is known for his Top 10 country hit, “In Color,” along with songs “The Dollar” and “High Cost of Living.” He has been nominated for Grammy Awards and won awards from the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music. Johnson has also co-written songs for Trace Adkins, George Strait, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard, and others. Jinks began his career in a thrash metal band before returning to his country roots. His 2016 album, I’m Not the Devil, reached Number 4 on the Billboard Country Album charts. Tickets are available at the coliseum’s box office, online at, or charge-by-phone at (800) 745-3000. For more information, including the complete musical line-up and schedule of events, visit www.

APRIL 7: C & R’S ANNUAL CRAWFISH COOK-OFF. C & R’s Bar, Waveland. 10 am.-4:30 pm Benefit for Hope Haven of Hancock County. Teams face off for cash prizes. $25 adults; $10 kids 9-12; 8 and under free. For more info, call 228-231-1018 after 4pm.

CRAWFISH, CORVETTES, AND CAMARROS FESTIVAL Fitz Casino, Tunica. 12-6 pm. Free outdoor festival featuring crawfish, bbq, other food, kids’ activities, music, vendors, and very cool cars.

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APRIL 8: OUTLAWS FOR PAWS CRAWFISH BOIL Keg & Barrel, 1315 Hardy Street, Hattiesburg. 12-6 pm Benefit for Southern Pines Animal Shelter. Crawfish, cornhole, raffles, live music, and beverages. APRIL 10: OLE MISS CHAPTER OF DUCKS UNLIMITED CRAWFISH BOIL. Rooster’s Blues House, Oxford. 6-9 pm. The event will consist of a crawfish boil, cold beverages, raffles, & auction. $10 students; $20 non-students. Call (601) 896 - 4059 for more info.

APRIL 14 PINCHIN TAILS FOR AUTISM CRAWFISH BOIL Gardiner Park, Laurel. 11 am. Food, craft vendors, kid activities, and live music all supporting Center Ridge Outpost

APRIL 21: DOWNTOWN CRAWFISH JAM MUSIC FESTIVAL. Walthall Park, Hattiesburg. 11 am-5:30 pm Live musical performances by local and regional All-Girl bands, as well as all-you-can-eat: crawfish, burger, hot dogs, Coke products and cold beer.

APRIL 28: ATO CRAWFISH BOIL ATO House, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg. Enjoy all-you-can-eat crawfish, music, and raffles. Benefits Tired Dog Rescue in Gulfport. MSU DEPARTMENT OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE CRAWFISH BOIL Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum, Starkville. 5:30 p.m. For more information, email


All you can eat crawfish, silent auction, raffles, and more. For more info, call 601-264-3323 MAY 5: CRAWFISH FESTIVAL Little Black Creek Campground and Park, Purvis. 9am-9pm Arts and Craft Vendors, Food Vendors, Fire Work Show, Bass Tournament, Live Music and lots of boiled crawfish. FOREST COUNTRY CLUB CRAWFISH TOURNAMENT & BOIL Forest Country Club, Forest. 7:30 p.m.Crawfish Golf Tournament begins at 8:00 am with crawfish boil at 7:30 pm followed by

entertainment at 8 pm. For more info, call (601) 613-5615. MAY 12: DOWNTOWN LUCEDALE SECOND SATURDAY Main Street, Lucedale. May’s Second Saturday will feature a cruise-in and crawfish boil! Q 27


If you are from Covington County or any of the surrounding area, you know the first Saturday in May is Okatoma Fest in Downtown Collins. This year marks the 29th year for the festival that welcomes approximately 10,000 to 12,000 people each year. “Okatoma Festival began in 1990 under Mississippi Economic Council’s (MEC) Look Around Mississippi program to promote pride and communities in the state,” said Covington County Chamber of Commerce Director Marie Shoemake. “(Covington County native) Gerald McRaney (Simon and Simon, Major Dad, Promised Land, and This is Us) came home for the first Okatoma Festival. A record breaking crowd turned out from all around. “Gerald spoke praise for his hometown and Mississippi, and it made us all proud. The Okatoma Festival received recognition from MEC, and the festival continued to grow. After three-years, MEC went another direction, but the festival was now a cornerstone event in Covington County.” The event features vendors from all over Mississippi and surrounding states selling food, arts, crafts, retail items, and more. There are kids’ activities, rides, rubber duck race, health fair, car show, quilt exhibit, and a children’s art exhibit. Throughout the day, there is entertainment on two stages. The day kicks off with a 5k run/walk and one mile fun run followed by the annual parade. “Approximately 130 people participate in the 5-K run/ walk and children’s fun run,” said Shoemake. “The run is put on by the Mississippi Track Club. Winning participants are awarded trophies, medals and a festival run shirt.” The parade begins at 10 a.m. and features floats from local schools and churches; city and county officials; school bands; and local beauty queens. Many well-known names with ties to Covington County and Mississippi have served as Grand Marshals for the parade including Gerald McCraney and his wife, Delta Burke; Steve “Air” McNair; Jerry Clower; Tom Lester; and Walt Grayson.

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Later, the real fun starts. The vendors are open; the food starts cooking; and entertainment begins! “There are 24 food booths,” said Shoemake. “Only two vendors can sell the same product, so we have a variety of food: hamburgers, funnel cakes, crawfish, chicken and fish plates, fried corn, Mexican nachos, lemonade, Cokes, ice cream, and more.” More than 200 vendors offer a variety of crafts and goods including wood crafters, pottery, handmade baskets, jewelry, t-shirts, face painting, air-brush items, bath/ spa products, children’s clothes, handmade toys, birdhouses, painted furniture, books, and just about anything one could fancy. Ashley Welch is the owner of The Punky Rooster, an online clothing store for women and children. She has

been a vendor at Okatoma Festival for the past two years. “I only sell children’s clothing at Okatoma Festival. My favorite thing is the downtown location. I also love meeting new customers and catching up with those that have been my customer for a long time,” the vendor said. This will be the first year to be a vendor at Okatoma Festival for Ann Whitehurst of Ridgeland. Whitehurst is the owner of Ann’s Earrings, and she will be selling handmade jewelry. She will be sharing a booth with her friend, Pam Elder, of Shreveport. Elder sells homemade soap. “I’ve made jewelry for 10 years,” said Whitehurst. “Pam has been making soap for about 15 years. We’ve done festivals in Louisiana and Mississippi. I will have jewelry made from beads and polymer clay pieces, including necklaces and bracelets. Pam’s soap smells really great, and it is good



for people who have allergies. She has stores in Shreveport that sell it, as well as selling it at festivals.” Besides the vendors, the different exhibits and entertainment also helps attract people to the huge event, according to Shoemake. “The car show brings in car enthusiasts to exhibit their prize vehicles. The homemakers bring in quilters and sell tickets for their prize festival quilt. Each organization draws in people and each musical act has a following,” she said. This year’s main event in entertainment features Nashville singer/songwriter Travis Clark, a Covington County native. Clark is known for his songs “Love Me Back” and “Live at Five,” and he has opened for well-known singers Glen Campbell and Tim McGraw. He will perform from 5 until 7 p.m. The 6550’s Band, Mississippi Flush Blues Band, JCJC “OnStage” Show Choir, and others will also be performing throughout the day. Shannon Bridges of Collins has been attending the Okatoma Festival for many years with her family. “The parade that morning is always a highlight,” said Bridges. “Food is always a must with me and my girls! T.K.’s Chicken-On-A-Stick with their homemade curly fries is a ‘gotta have it’ and, of course, funnel cake! I’ve never been disappointed in the vendors. I’ve bought many Moth-

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er’s Day gifts there over the years. Overall, it’s a great day for the whole family!” The Okatoma Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 5, from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. in Downtown Collins with most activities surrounding the Covington County Courthouse. There is no admission fee. For more information, visit or call (601) 765-6012. Q 31

MISSISSIPPI’S TURN TO Story by Jann Tuten | Photographs submitted by the USA International Ballet Competition


It is more than a polished performance on stage. It’s a ballet of emotions, where balance is more than an exceedingly well-practiced art, but, also the nitty gritty of everyday life. Sacrifice, repetitive long hours to the point of exhaustion, sleep or the lack thereof, attempting to eat right to maintain ones health and, sometimes, living away from home. It is fatigue and blistered toes to build calluses. It is homesickness. It is tears of joy, celebration, and sometimes loneliness. It is a culmination of years, time and an exhilarating, but grueling determination. Couple this with the composition of parents, who sacrifice their money and time to help their child fulfill a dream of noted talent. And, for the participants, it is the honor and thrill of a lifetime to have been chosen to participate in the greatest Olympics on stage.

It is the

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International Ballet Competition. The International Ballet Competition (IBC) rotates yearly between four locations: Varna, Bulgaria; Moscow, Russia; Tokyo, Japan; and Jackson, Mississippi. “Of these four distinct locations, it is Jackson’s competition that dancers from all over the world vie to be a part of, “said Jenny Thomas, head of the box office and on staff for three years. In the entire western hemisphere, how did Jackson become, not only the one place in the United States to host this competition, but, also, home to the International Ballet Competition? It all began with an invitation. In 1975, the Jackson Ballet Guild invited Thaila Mara, a renowned ballet teacher and educator, to move from New York to develop a professional ballet company and school for the State of Mississippi. She accepted the invitation and came with a passion to further accelerate the development of the arts in the South. Mara envisioned Jackson hosting the first International Ballet Competition and set forth to make that dream a reality. She introduced the idea to city leaders and convinced them to secure the USA IBC for the City of Jackson. In 1978, Mississippi Ballet International, Inc. was created, and, in 1979, it produced the first International Ballet Competition in the United States. In 1982, the United States Congress passed a joint resolution designating Jackson as the official home of the International Ballet Competition. And that is where the public’s invitation begins. 



But first, let’s look behind the scenes. Let’s look at the dancers. What do their lives entail? What is their motivation? What are some dos and don’ts? Since the International Ballet Competition only accepts pre-professionals, ages 14 to 28, the dancers begin learning the basics at an early age. With the love of ballet deep in their souls, hours upon hours of practice are endured.

Their motivation is derived from their love of this beautiful art. For them, the aches, the ouches and hard work pale to the thrill that dancing brings. Sherron Polk Wigington, former professional dancer with the New Jersey Ballet Company, studied in New York with The Joffrey Ballet while attending high school in New Jersey. “I’d catch the Amtrak after school, and I’d do my homework while traveling to practice. It would be 11 p.m. before I got home. If I still had homework, I’d finish it before going to bed. I was exhausted, but I didn’t mind, because I was doing what I loved to do.” Do ankles or knees get taped to add support or protect strained muscles? “No,” Wigington said. “It restricts your flexibility. Also, we were not allowed to run, because it developed the shin Q 35

muscles. Those are not the muscles you need to build. The calf or outer muscles are the ones that support you.” One must be obsessed with details. Meticulously. It is vital to learn to do things right, because everything depends upon accuracy: the footwork, the arm work, the body movements. Timing and fluidness are everything, particularly when paired with a partner. The next time you watch ice dancing or “Dancing with the Stars”, look at the importance of precision and the ebb and flow of movement. Listen to the judges critiques. This is a dancer’s life as they strive toward perfection. Becoming a professional ballet dancer is a commitment made at a very early age. It is a marriage of love, determination and resiliency. The comrade spirit that is built with fellow dancers is like a coin: two-sided. Best of friends on one side; best of competitors on the other. Both are vital in a dancer’s life. “Best friends will blow on your toes that are bleeding with pain,” Wigington said. On stage, they are your competitors. Each one is brought together because of their love of ballet and the dream of getting the best role toward becoming a professional dancer. This one coin with its two sides makes for a better dancer and the camaraderie of friendships. This summer will mark the 11th year the International Ballet Competition has been held in Jackson. The brightest and best from all over the world will come to compete for scholarships, company contracts, medals and cash prizes. “It is on par with the Olympics, “ Thomas said. “Three hundred applicants have applied, but only 100 will be awarded the honor of competing.”  The competitors are chosen by the Selection Committee of the USA IBC based on their application, and the video they’ve submitted. The selection committee is comprised of successful artistic leaders: dancers, directors, instructors and choreographers. 


Once accepted, the dancers are judged individually by an international jury of 11 members from various locations across the globe to insure fairness. Competitors are judged on a 10-point system on artistry, technical skill and musicality. Each juror votes individually for each competitor in each round. There are three rounds of choreographed competition. Round I is Classical Dance, which must be performed with an orchestra. Round II is Contemporary Dance, limited to

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THINGS TO KNOW Gertrude C. Ford Foundation Opening Ceremony Sunday, June 10 @ 7:30 p.m.

Round I – Classical Monday, June 11 Session I @ 2 pm | Session 2 @ 7:30 pm Tuesday, June 12 | Session 3 @ 2 pm | Session 4 @ 7:30 pm Wednesday, June 13 | Session 5 @ 2 pm | Session 6 @ 7:30 pm Thursday, June 14 | Session 7 @ 2 pm | Session 8 @ 7:30 pm Round II – Contemporary Saturday, June 16 | Session 1 @ 7:30 pm Sunday, June 17 | Session 2 @ 2pm | Session 3 @ 7:30 pm Round III – Classical & Contemporary Tuesday, June 19 – Session 1 @ 7:30 pm Wednesday, June 20 – Session 2 @ 7:30 pm Thursday, June 21 – Session 3 @ 7:30 pm

four minutes. It can be performed with approved recorded music. Round III is the finals, and includes both classical and contemporary. All competitions are held before a public audience. When planning a Venture South in June, be sure to attend the International Ballet Competition. It is exciting to see dancers from all over the world competing for coveted opportunities and awards. The competition begins on the evening of June 10 with the Gertrude G. Ford Foundation opening ceremony. This ceremony honors Robert Joffrey with performances by dancers of the Joffrey Ballet. This world renowned dancer chaired Jackson’s first USA IBC in 1979 and two other times, as well. He passed away in 1998. The Joffrey dancers will be accompanied by the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra with two grand pianos on stage. It will be a fusion of two elegant forms of art!

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Awards Gala Friday, June 22@ 7:30 p.m. Entergy Grand Prix Ball Friday, June 22 @ 9:30 p.m.

Encore Gala Saturday, June 23@ 7:30 p.m.

All dance competitions are held in Thalia Mara Hall, named in honor of our honorary citizen, Thalia Mara. Thalia Mara Hall is located in the Mississippi Museum of Art Building, 380 Lamar St, Jackson, Miss. 39201. Tickets are also available for the dance school and for the competitive classes observations and will run concurrent with the competitions.

Dance school classes are June 11 - 22 from 9:00 am - 4:15 pm. These classes are located on the Belhaven University campus (1500 Peachtree St) at the Bitsy Irby Dance Center. Competitive classes are June 11 - 18 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm. These classes are held at the JacksonConvention Complex, located at 105 East Pascagoula St.

Package tickets went on sale to members of the International Ballet Association on January 16, 2018, and to the public on February 12, 2018. Individual ticket sales will begin on March 19, 2018. Groups of 10 or more are eligible for discounts by advance reservation. Tickets may be bought on line at or by calling the box office at 601.973-9249. Q 37


Story by Jill Deakle | Photographs submitted by Robin McNeill

In the very northern center of the state of Mississippi, near the Tennessee border, sits Holly Springs, a town that’s home to between 7,000 and 8,000 people. Holly Springs officially became a town in 1836 after being settled by European Americans, although Chickasaw Indians had occupied the area for many years prior. Holly Springs has earned its own important place in Mississippi history in more than one area. During the Civil War, Holly Springs played a significant role for both the North and the South. Because of its loca-

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tion on the Mississippi Central Railroad, Union General and future President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant used Holly Springs as his supply base for the capture of Vicksburg. Confederate General Earl Van Dorn led a raid of the area in December 1862, destroying the Union’s supplies. Holly Springs has been a leader in both the state and nation when it comes to higher education. It’s home to the oldest university in Mississippi, the former University of Holly Springs, which was opened 1838-1839. The building, Chalmers Institute, is still there today and on the

National Register of Historic Places. Holly Springs is also the home to Rust College, one of the oldest historically African-American colleges in the United States. Rust College was established in 1866 by the Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was named to President Barack Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2014, the highest honor a university or college can receive for civic and volunteer work in the community. Other notable historical events in the history of Holly Springs includes losing 2,000 people to the yellow fever epidemic in 1878; Hiriam Rhodes Revels, a minister from Holly Springs, being the first African-American elected to the U.S. Congress in 1870; and catastrophic damage in December 2015 from a tornado that also killed two people. Today, Holly Springs is home to 60 antebellum homes and churches in the historic districts. Like many small towns and cities in the Magnolia State, its downtown is experiencing resurgence. Q 39

“We have a combination of businesses in Downtown Holly Springs,” said Christy Owens with the Holly Springs Main Street Chamber. “We have retail including clothing, gift items, bridal registry, flowers, party rentals, and antiques. We also have a coffee shop, restaurant/bar, attorneys, banks, Realtors, etc. Of course, there is our beautiful courthouse. There is upper floor living, too. Tourism has grown, and there is a continued interest in our community.” With so many historic homes overflowing with Old South charm, Holly Springs has become a destination for weddings, weekend getaways, and tours. One notable home is Airliewood, the home used as General Grant’s headquarters during the Civil War. The home underwent a massive renovation, and it is now known for its extravagant pink-stuccoed walls, embellishments, arched windows and cast iron fence. Crump Place, one of the oldest homes in Holly Springs, was built by one of the town’s founding fathers in 1837. It

was the childhood home to powerful Memphis Mayor E.H. “Boss” Crump in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It is a single-story, flanking-gable frame house. The

front view features a five-bay inset gallery with entrance portico, and the back features a prominent gallery porch. Montrose is a historic restoration project of the Holly Springs Garden Club that was built in 1858. The home has classic Greek Revival architecture with cast iron Corinthian columns. It is featured on the Garden Club’s Tour of Homes annually, which helps raise money for its renovation. Holly Springs has unique outdoor recreation spots, too. Strawberry Plains Audubon Center came to life when sisters Ruth Finley and Margaret Finley Shackelford entrusted their home and property to The National Audubon Society. The center includes 15 miles of hiking trails, the antebellum Davis home, native gardens and wildflowers, native plant nursery, restored forests and grasslands, and much more. It offers educational opportunities such as lectures, field classes, and learning events.

Chewalla Lake Recreation Area is another outdoor recreation spot in Holly Springs that attracts visitors. It has a 260-acre lake, which is popular with fishermen and swimmers in the warmer months. In addition, it has campsites, swimming beach, playground children, picnic pavilion, fishing docks, and more. For more information about Holly Springs, go to or, or call (662) 252-2943.


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I APRIL 4-7 Annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Spring Pilgrimage The event features elegant homes, gardens, and historic landmarks along the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Pascagoula to Diamondhead. Experience the treasures in the coastal communities! Hosted by Gulf Coast Council of Garden Clubs. April 4, 9 a.m. - Noon, Biloxi April 4, 1 – 4 p.m., Long Beach April 5, 9 a.m.-Noon, Diamondhead April 5, 1 – 4 p.m., Gulfport April 6, 9 a.m. – Noon, Ocean Springs April 6, 1- 4 p.m., Gautier April 7, 2018, 9-Noon, Pascagoula April 7, 1-4 p.m., Moss Point Free, but donations appreciated

APRIL 5-14 78th Annual Columbus Spring Pilgrimage

Enjoy this award-winning event that has been widely recognized as one of the best and most authentic home tours in the South. Carriage rides, tours, and so much more invite visitors to one of Mississippi’s most beautiful cities. Having evolved from a tour of homes in its infancy to today’s delightfully diverse 10-day celebration, the annual, highly-anticipated event showcases historical architecture, Southern culture, tantalizing food and fun. Various locations, Columbus Various schedule and admission fees

APRIL 6 Zoo Brew 2018

Enjoy sipping craft beer while taking a stroll around the Jackson Zoo. Visit with the diverse animal collection, enjoy live music, food from a variety of local restaurants, home brew competition from Raise Your Pints, and the Wing Eating Competition and more! Brewers from around the

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state showcase up to 100 different craft beers! Zoo Brew also features signature cocktails from Cathead Vodka and Fondren Public! Admission: $20 for the designated driver $40 general admission & $70 for VIP tickets 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

APRIL 7 Hubfest

Hubfest is one of south Mississippi’s premier arts and music festivals. Enjoy four stages of live music; more than 250 arts, crafts and food vendors; and a large children’s area. More than 30,000 people attended during the 2017 event, so pets are not allowed. Downtown Hattiesburg | Free admission

York Times and heard about on Sirius-XM Radio. It is like no other event in the world. Think they’re exaggerating? What other event has blues veterans, juke joints, monkeys riding dogs, racing pigs and visitors from all around the globe? Although Saturday is the main day of fun, there are other events related to the festival other days, too! Various locations, Clarksdale | Various schedule.

APRIL 14-15 & 21-22 Kidfest!

Four fun-filled days promise to deliver more fun and flexibility than ever before with new attractions and the return of some crowd favorites! KidFest! will feature a variety of shows, interactive activities and many other attractions which are all included in the price of admission. Freedom Ridge Park 235 West School Street, Ridgeland Admission: $12, includes all activities (under 2, free)

APRIL 7-8 Annual Art in the Pass

An annual festival featuring fine arts, crafts, music, food and more this spring in a beautiful setting overlooking the sparkling waters of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. More than 100 artists from 15 states will participate in the two-day juried festival that showcases works in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, pottery, & more. Free admission

APRIL 14 The Juke Joint Festival

The Juke Joint Festival is “half blues festival, half small-town fair and all about the Delta.” It celebrates the past and living history by presenting more than 100 blues acts, including many Mississippi and Southern greats in their 60s, 70s, 80s or even 90s! This is the real-deal Mississippi blues festival that you’ve read about in the New Q 43

APRIL 16-18 Garden Clubs of Mississippi 89th Annual Convention The 89th Annual Garden Clubs of Mississippi Convention visits The City Beautiful where participants and guests will enjoy visits to museums, an “Our Hometown” tour, design banquet, and other festivities and sessions. Various locations, Laurel Various admission and schedule times

APRIL 19-21 Tupelo Film Festival

In 2010, the Tupelo Film Festival was recognized by as number five in the top ten small film festivals in the country. The festival has grown over the years and for 10 years organizers partnered with the historic Lyric Theatre in Downtown Tupelo where the festival was held, but transitioned to the Malco Theatre (Tupelo Commons) in 2011. The Mississippi High School Film Competition became a part of the film festival in 2014. The festival continues to work diligently each year providing filmmakers and audiences a unique experience in which one can embrace, and feel embraced, by the true southern hospitality of Tupelo and Mississippi. Malco Tupelo Commons Cinema, Tupelo Admission info & schedule coming soon

APRIL 20-21 26th Annual Tunica Rivergate Festival

Visitors can head down to Rivergate Park located in quaint downtown Tunica to enjoy live music, arts & crafts, BBQ and of course, crawfish! Each year Crawfish Alley serves up more than 12,000 pounds of hot fresh mudbugs as people keep coming back for their fill of this local delicacy. Take the whole family; rain or shine it’s sure to be a good time! Downtown Tunica

APRIL 20-21 Riverfest

Welcome to Riverfest and Vicksburg, the Red Carpet City of the South! Enjoy blocks and blocks of river artisans, foods of the world and lively regional music. Shop wonderful retailers, enjoy the newly renovated downtown, and take in the great sights and sounds that make Vicksburg a national attraction. But save

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something for sundown, when the bluffs start to jump and the revelers begin to pound the bricks! The 31st annual RiverFest will feature the Arts and Crafts Show as well as live entertainment from 6 p.m. to midnight nightly. Gates for nightly events will open at 6 p.m. The Riverfest Arts & Crafts Festival is an annual event, offering handmade arts & crafts, food booths, and entertainment, including street performers, live bands, kids’ games. Downtown Vicksburg Free admission, Saturday daytime Admission fee for nighttime entertainment

APRIL 20-21 Southaven 39th Annual Springfest

Great entertainment; an extraordinary carnival midway including a variety of kiddie, major, and spectacular rides; games; great concessions and more. In addition, Springfest will once again host the State of Mississippi Barbecue Championship sanctioned by Memphis Barbecue Network and KCBS and will include a Youth Cooking Competition. Wristband Nights are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Live entertainment Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28. Snowden Grove Park, Southaven Various admission & schedule

APRIL 27-28 Double Decker Arts Festival

Originally inspired by the Double Decker bus that Oxford imported from England in 1994, the festival showcases Oxford as a town that supports the arts and has grown to be one of the champion events in the region. Double Decker started with the bed of an old pickup truck serving as the stage for music, and only hosted a handful art and food vendors. Today, the event is entered around the historic Courthouse Square, and boasts a crowd of more than 60,000 people. Now in a two-day format, Double Decker will kick-off on Friday evening with Thacker Mountain Radio hosting a live broadcast complete with music. Saturday is an all-day affair featuring nearly 200 art and food vendors while a generous mix of both local and touring musicians take to the stage. Downtown Oxford | Various schedule

APRIL 28 McComb Music & Heritage Festival The McComb Music & Heritage Festival is a fun-filled, two-day event taking place at various venues around downtown McComb, including the Palace Theater, St. Andrew’s Mission, the State Theater, Pike County Little Theater, Big Daddy’s Blues Club & Cultural Exchange, and more locations. For this one weekend, downtown McComb will turn into the premier Arts & Entertainment District in Southwest Mississippi. Friday night, the festival begins with a special dining experience at St. Andrew’s Mission. Enjoy a multi-course French dinner prepared by Chef Clay Russell, followed by dancing to French Jazz. There will be a limited amount of tickets for this event. Downtown McComb, various locations Admission and schedule varies.


May 4-6

Tara Wildlife Spring Birding Weekend, Vicksburg

May 5

Jerry Cower Festival, Yazoo City Okatoma Festival, Downtown Collins 2018 Annual Music Awards, Southaven

May 11

Picnic in the Park, Ridgeland

May 12

Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, McComb

May 17-19

Jimmy Rigers Music Festival, Meridian

May 18-19

Springfest, Batesville

May 25

8th Annual St. Clare Seafood Festival, Waveland Q 45


CLUES ACROSS 1. Volcanic craters 6. Makes nervous 10. Long strip of cloth 14. Expressions of surprise 15. Perception 17. 2016 World Series runner-up 19. Former Communist power 20. Consume 21. Abyss 22. Regulator gene 23. Card game 24. Women (French) 26. State capital 29. Nursemaid 31. Surface opening 32. Second sight 34. Beloved Mexican dish 35. Discounts 37. Ceremonial staff 38. Support with difficulty 39. Reluctant to share information 40. Song 41. Relating to songbirds 43. Conductance units 45. Breezed through 46. Supervises flying 47. Chemical ring 49. Swiss river 50. Not happy 53. Surgery (slang) 57. Let go 58. Take effect 59. __ and greet 60. Male offspring 61. Notes

Enjoy these games & puzzles as you go on your next adventure.


Rearrange the letters to spell something pertaining to birds. Answer: Bridle


CLUES DOWN 1. Vertebrate oncogenes 2. Troubles 3. Imitator 4. Increase motor speed

WORD BANK Adagio Allegro Alto Bass Beat Cadence Canon

Chord Chorus Clef Contralto Duet Encore Ensemble Falsetto

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Harmony Key Major Minor Modulation Music Octave Pitch

Reprise Rhythm Scale Singing Solo Speed Staff Symbols

5. Midway between south and southeast 6. Sir __ Newton 7. Penny 8. Ultimate 9. Gummed labels 10. Quiet and dull 11. Cuckooes 12. Dishonest scheme 13. Adult female chicken 16. Breathe in 18. Pieces of land 22. Of I 23. Type of footwear 24. Heavy clubs 25. Conductance unit 27. Approaches 28. Fungi cells 29. Devoured 30. Type of shark 31. Work steady at one’s trade 33. Vegetable 35. Sound-mindedness 36. Matured 37. Chinese communist revolutionary 39. Large insect 42. Transportation tickets book 43. Female horse 44. Expresses surprise 46. Saudi Arabian king 47. Unleavened bread 48. Christmas 49. Deity of monotheistic cult 50. Flowering plant genus 51. Hairstyle 52. Radio personality Rick 53. Something you chew 54. The 17th letter of the Greek alphabet 55. __ Basinger, actress 56. Midway between north and northeast

Tempo Tenor Tuning Vibrato Vocals Q 47

Venture South Magazine - April 2018  

In this edition, Spring has arrived, and so has festival season across Mississippi. Plus, the International Ballet Competition returns to Ja...

Venture South Magazine - April 2018  

In this edition, Spring has arrived, and so has festival season across Mississippi. Plus, the International Ballet Competition returns to Ja...