Thursday, January 6, 2011


A new year means a new legislative session, and Mississippi tourism is taking center stage as state legislators continue to hear the message of tourism’s tremendous impact and benefits for the state.

During an annual legislative luncheon hosted this week by the Mississippi Tourism Association, the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division unveiled its new branding platform, including a new logo, new advertising campaign and completely revamped website to be launched in the coming weeks. The tagline – “Find Your True South” – is the centerpiece of the new brand.

In a presentation by Mary Beth Wilkerson, MDA Tourism director, legislators were reminded that tourism in Mississippi is a $5.5 billion business and that more than 19 million visitors traveled to the state last fiscal year. The industry also generated more than 78,000 jobs and is the fifth largest private-sector employer in the state.

MDA Tourism Director Mary Beth Wilkerson

Wilkerson with Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and MTA Board Members

The new brand draws on Mississippi’s reputation as the most southern state in the nation and the mother of southern culture. Whether in the area of music, literature, sports, food or gaming, Mississippi epitomizes the best of what’s southern.


January has been designated as Culinary Month in Mississippi. All month long communities around the state will be highlighting and celebrating notable restaurants, unique specialty items, take-home recipes and other local good eats. The state’s Welcome Centers will also join the action with displays, menus, samples and other information to help you satisfy your appetite while visiting the state.

No matter where you are in Mississippi, authentic restaurants are nearby. Whether you are sampling fresh seafood from famous local spots like Mary Mahoney’s in Biloxi, Cajun cooking at the Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg, fine dining at Nick’s in Jackson, world-famous steaks at Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, real Southern barbeque at Little Dooey’s in Starkville or irresistible fried catfish at Taylor Grocery near Oxford, there’s something delicious here for every tastebud!

Surf and Turf, Mary Mahoney's in Biloxi

Chefs and Recipes
A Robert St. John cookbook
Mississippi is the proud birthplace or home of many past and present celebrities: actors, athletes, artists and, yes, chefs, too. Chef and humorist Robert St. John is not only a restaurant owner, he writes food columns and cookbooks that are quickly becoming some of the most popular gifts around.

Chef John Currence of Oxford was awarded the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef South in 2009. Other notable Mississippi chefs include Cat Cora, the only female “Iron Chef” in that franchise’s history, and Martha Hall Foose, another popular chef and storyteller. These and other well-known chefs, along with lots of soon-to-be-famous ones, can be found all across Mississippi.

Cooking Products and Specialty Food Items
Mississippi is home to Viking Range Corporation. What started as a small operation is now a household name in cooking appliances, accessories and cooking schools. Based in Greenwood, Viking continues to grow and flourish with its headquarters and cooking school there, as well as a new cooking school in Ridgeland near the capital city of Jackson.

Jubilations Cheesecakes, based in Columbus, offers nearly endless flavors of cheesecakes that you can order online or over the phone. The Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory in Yazoo City is another favorite for holidays or anytime guests are gathered to celebrate any occasion, big or small.

Sweet treats, Jubilations Cheesecakes in Columbus

The Indianola Pecan House in the Delta celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with pecans fixed however you like them. And remember, that’s pronounced “puh-kan,” not “pee-kan.”
Pecan Pralines

To learn more and to view our online Culinary Trail with features an interactive map, go to

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Today, the Mississippi Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission unveiled its new website – – during an event held at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss.

Mississippi State University worked with the commission to develop the website along with a logo. The university has also volunteered office space to house an executive director for the commission.

The commission’s mission is the recognition of the enduring legacy of the Mississippi experience in the American Civil War through public education, community participation and civic discussion thus expanding historical perspectives, contemporary relevance and economic opportunity.
Pictured from left to right: Mary Beth Wilkerson, MDA Tourism director; State Senator Lydia Chassaniol, chair of the Senate Tourism Committee; Bill Seratt, chairman of the Mississippi Sesquicentennial Commission; and Sarah McCullough, Culture & Heritage program manager for MDA Tourism.

Stay tuned for news and updates about activities planned around the state between 2011 and 2015. And visit for details.

Monday, November 29, 2010


A diverse crowd including blues artists, tourism officials and community members converged on the site of Bradfordville Blues Club in Tallahassee, Florida, for the unveiling of the newest marker on the Mississippi Blues Trailer on November 20.

Yes, the location was northern Florida, not Mississippi. Why? The musical ties between Florida and Mississippi run deep. North Florida’s urban clubs and rural roadhouses, including clubs that have operated at the historic Bradfordville location, have played an important role in the history of the Gulf Coast “chitlin circuit” for touring African American blues, jazz and R&B musicians. Mississippi-born artists B. B. King, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker and many more have performed and recorded in Florida while some Floridians, including bluesman Benny Latimore, recorded at studios in Mississippi as well.

Also, Florida has long provided work for traveling musicians with its many entertainment centers. Seasonal jobs in agriculture and other fields also drew itinerant bluesmen from Mississippi and other states. Several Mississippi musicians have recorded in Florida: John Lee Hooker and his cousin Earl Hooker, Ike Turner, Johnny O’Neal and Little Sammy Davis. Floridians who recorded in Mississippi include Pensacola bandleader Wally Mercer and Homestead native Tommy Tate, a vocalist/songwriter/drummer at Malaco Records in Jackson, where Miami’s Benny Latimore made many records. The interchange has also been saluted in songs such as “Mississippi Mud” by Ray Charles and “Deep Down in Florida” by Muddy “Mississippi” Waters.

The Bradfordville Blues Club marker is the 119th marker and the eighth marker dedicated outside of the state. Other out-of-state markers are located in Chicago; Memphis; Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Ferriday, Louisiana; Helena, Arkansas; Rockland, Maine; and Grafton, Wisconsin.

For more information about the Mississippi Blues Trail, visit or

(Photos courtesy of Larry Coltharp of Tallahassee, Florida)

Friday, November 19, 2010

More Than a Dozen of the Nation’s Top Radio Hosts and Bloggers Converge on Gulf Coast for Visit MS Coast Talk Radio Row Event

Mississippi Tourism Director Mary Beth Wilkerson being
interviewed by Alan Nathan on "Battle Line with
Alan Nathan" on the Main Street Radio Network
during Gulf Coast Radio Row.

(GULFPORT-BILOXI, MS) – A cutting-edge digital media campaign combining the intensity of some of America’s most influential radio hosts and bloggers will develop excitement and enthusiasm throughout the country this week as they travel to the Biloxi-Gulfport, MS area to interview Mississippians for a Visit Mississippi Coast Talk Radio Row Event.
At the largest radio and social media event in the history of Mississippi, more than a dozen of the nation’s top national and regional talk radio hosts and bloggers are traveling to the Biloxi-Gulfport area. They will be broadcasting live to millions of listeners and readers from the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center on the Gulf Coast on Thursday, Nov. 18 and Friday, Nov. 19, 2010. 

MS Tourism with radio celeb Lars Larson
“As part of the Visit MS Coast multi-platform ‘Wish You Were Here’ marketing and public relations campaign, we have invited radio talk show hosts from key markets to broadcast live from the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center on the Gulf Coast on Thursday, November 18 and Friday, November 19,” Mary Beth Wilkerson, director of Tourism for the Mississippi Development Authority.
The talk radio and blogger row is hosted by the Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The hosts and bloggers will help tell the story of how the Mississippi Gulf Coast is back after the Deepwater Spill, andfishing, golfing, hunting, crafts, restaurants, real estate, seafood and other industries are on the rebound and tourism and convention areas back in business.
Beaming hundreds of hours of radio coverage and dozens of online stories across the country on Gulf recovery;radio outlets include nationally syndicated programs: The Lars Larson Show; Doug Stephan's Good Day; Kate Delaney’s America Tonight; Battleline with Alan Nathan; and Talk Radio News’ Ellen Ratner and Lovisa Frost. Regional shows include: WGSO’s Jeff Crouere’s Ringside Politics with in New Orleans, LA; The Martha Zoller Show, heard statewide in Georgia; The Scott Hennen Show on AM1100 WZFG in Fargo, ND; WVVE in Panama City’s Angie Rose and Shawn Wild; Steve Bowers’ Daybreak on WNWS in Jackson, TN; George Russell’s The George Russell Experience from WSMN in Nashua, NH. Bloggers and online commentators and reporters include: Ed Morrissey from; Kerry Picket from The Washington Times; and Rob Port from the in North Dakota.

Hosts and bloggers will talk to business leaders, everyday people, workers, government, and community leaders. These great Mississippians will highlight the inspiring stories of the state emerging better and stronger than ever. More information, contact Sandy Bynum at 769.798.5178.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Washington County Welcome Center

The Washington County Welcome Center recently received a major facelift. But not only is the exterior more aesthetically pleasing, the interior now offers a comprehensive look at life in the Mississippi Delta with the Museum of Attractions and Tours, which officially opened today on the second level of the Welcome Center. Activities are planned all day to celebrate the grand opening. The new museum offers a great starting point for any visitor’s journey through the Mississippi Delta.

Exhibits tell the story of the Mississippi Delta with unique artifacts and memorabilia. One of Mississippi Slim’s colorful stage costumes adorns the exhibit area highlighting the Delta as the birthplace of blues music. (The man himself will entertain visitors this evening at a special edition of Business After Hours hosted at the Welcome Center.) Kermit the Frog welcomes guests with a smile and a wave reminding visitors that the Delta is home to creative geniuses like Muppets’ creator Jim Henson.

Other items like cotton bales, plows and other farm equipment recall the region’s glory as one of the state’s most active agricultural centers and tout the emergence of agritourism in the area. A myriad of photographs from yesteryear offer a glimpse into the Delta’s past and reminds visitors how the region has grown.

The Welcome Center facility is just as interesting as the museum itself. The building is a replica of a nineteenth century steamboat originally built for the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans. The replica was taken apart and brought back to Greenville to serve as a tourist center in 1985. It now sits in 18 inches of water for an authentic look.

All aboard at the Washington County Welcome Center for a voyage through Mississippi Delta history!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Locust Grove Berry Farm - Jackson

Locust Grove Berry Farm, in Jackson, is a pick-your-own place for the freshest seasonal fruit. It is a beautiful piece of property, calm and quiet.

You'll see the sign from the road:Blackberries and blueberries are ripe for the picking in June, figs in July and Muscadines in August and September. (FYI, These pictures were taken in July.)

Lovely deep-colored figs below.
One view of the muscadine vines. The muscadine is a wild grape with a sweet, mild flavor used to make jelly, juice and wine. Some muscadines stay green while others deepen to a purple color when ripe.

A look at the muscadine vines that stretch across the field.

Get a closer look underneath the vines where the large muscadines are ripening under the mottled summer sunlight.

Locust Grove Berry Farm also has a field full of sunflowers. They looked like the July sun had gotten the best of them, though.

Except for this one: Locust Grove Berry Farm
2651 W. County Line Rd.
Jackson, Mississippi

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dockery Plantation - Cleveland, Mississippi

What blues lover isn't familiar with this image?
Dockery Plantation is considered one of the main locations of Blues music activity as a result of resident musicians like Charley Patton, whose music could be heard from the porch of the commissary, during picnics on the grounds and at local dances in the area.

Patton’s music influenced other Dockery contemporaries like partner Willie Brown and Son House who, in turn, taught their craft to Robert Johnson. Also influenced were musicians Tommy Johnson (no relation to Robert Johnson – Tommy is said to be the one who truly sold his soul to the devil), “Pops” Staples and a young Howlin’ Wolf. During its heyday, Dockery Plantation was a 10,000-acre cotton plantation that supported over 2,000 workers. Because of its enormous size, it had its own railroad depot, commissary, post office, school, doctor, churches and even monetary currency called "Brozine" (may be spelled incorrectly). Tenants could not only use that currency on the plantation but also in Cleveland and nearby Ruleville.

It was here that development was made necessary for the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad Line which ran from the Dockery Plantation west to Boyle where it connected to the famous Yellow Dog rail system at Rosedale. Charley Patton’s song “Pea Vine Blues” (now spelled “Peavine”) was based on this railroad, named as such because this branch had a meandering route.

We arrived at Dockery right at sunset. With the shorter days of autumn, the sun set relatively fast on us.
There was a pervasive feeling that we weren't alone. Part of the reason, too, was that we had been telling ghost stories in the car on our drive up. It spooked me a little when the door to the building below began to creak open with the breeze.
Below are the remains of the old commissary that have since burned and been covered with Kudzu - as most things in this area that stay in one place too long!

Kudzu, the creeping plant often referred to as “the vine that ate the South” because it covers the countryside and everything else in its path.

Kudzu is plant of Japanese origins brought to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the Great Depression, the plant made its way south by way of the Soil Conservation services who suggested kudzu would be an effective way to control and prevent erosion. Farmers were even given incentives to plant fields of it and hundreds of Civilian Conservation Corps. men were commissioned to do the same. In Japan, kudzu grows at a normal pace like any other plant but the South’s warm climate acts like a catalyst, or rather, a monster dose of Miracle-Gro.

The vines can grow as much as a foot per day during the sweltering summer months and like a grasping demon it covers power poles, trees, buildings and most anything else that doesn’t move out of its way. It became a problem as it covered forests preventing trees from getting the proper sunlight they need to survive.

It was declared a weed in 1972.

Over the years, researchers discovered that most herbicides don’t even make a dent to prevent kudzu’s growth, and a couple even actually helped it grow further.

Only one thing can truly keep kudzu at bay: goats.

Resourceful Southerners make the most of a nuisance producing jars of kudzu jelly from the sweet smelling blooms and baskets and furniture from the rubbery vines. A bent and worn old oak tree on the backside of one of the buildings.

If you would like to post these or any pictures you see on this blog, please contact: akline {at} visitmississippi (dot) org

Monday, November 9, 2009

Heathman Plantation

Heathman Plantation is located at the intersection of Highway 82 and Heathman Road. The old commissary building is still standing and in good condition.

Once comprising some 8,000 acres, it was originally known as Dogwood Ridge Plantation. In 1871 James Martin Heathman purchased the property and renamed it Heathman Plantation.

As you can tell, it was right as the sun began to set and the colors in the sky were beautiful.

This spot went into our film location files.

If you would like to post these or any pictures you see on this blog, please contact: akline {at} visitmississippi (dot) org