When you think Mississippi, what do you think of? Most of my classmates thought of the spelling jingle we all learned in elementary school; M, I-s-s, I-s-s, I-p-p-i. I think of Mississippi as being the poster child of the southern states. Sure, Marti Gras and the Saints reside just to the west, and the Crimson Tide neighbors in the east, but Mississippi makes me think soul food, plantations and front porch sitting. You know, all things southern.
As a native west coast kid, the furthest south I’ve been is southern California on the west coast, and New Jersey on the east. So I really can’t say for myself what Mississippi and the rest of the south is all about. Some more common stereotypes surrounding the southern state are; the people are poor, the people are obese, and the people are racist. I’d heard these ideas before, but after checking out Mississippi’s travel website, visitmississippi.org, it seems as though some of these stereotypes are true to an extent but there is much more going on down there.
The website is broken down into seven sections:
1. Food and Drink – Experience real southern soul food
2. History and Heritage – See different aspects of the civil war, civil rights movement and the Mississippi Freedom Trail
3. Nature and Outdoors – Stay at one of the many state parks that span from the beaches of the gulf coast, to the pine forests throughout the north of the state. Ride bicycles on the many bike trails throughout the state.
4. Music and Art – Experience blues and country music like you’ve never heard
5. Golf – 170 courses spanning from the gulf coast to the north state line
6. Gaming and Entertainment – Stay and play at the many casino resorts throughout the state
7. Travel Professionals – Network professionally and learn about incentive programs
Of these sections, I found the most interesting aspect of Mississippi’s travel guide to be in the nature and outdoors section. The term “Agritourism” is used when explaining activities such as corn mazes, shrimping in the gulf coast and staying in a sharecropper’s shack. Mississippi is making farming and agriculture touristy, which I think is great because it is a major part of our nation’s history.
The website expands on the general southern stereotypes, but in a positive light while providing details that that move the mind from poor and backwoods, to beautiful, culture rich and fun.