Special events highlight legislative tourism committees' visit to region

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – When 10 members of the Mississippi Legislature visited Corinth and Iuka during a familiarization tour last week, several of them had never been to the farthest northeast corner of the state.
From Sen. Lydia Chassaniol of Wynona, chairwoman of the Senate Tourism Committee, to Representative Rita Martinson of Madison, chairman of the House Tourism Committee, members of the legislative delegation learned a lot about the Hill Country.
“This is my first trip to Corinth, one reason I wanted very much to come,” Chassaniol said. “I feel like since I’ve been in this position I’ve learned how important tourism is for Mississippi economic development. Visits like this help us understand what’s available in all parts of the state.”
Legislators Sen. Rita Parks of Corinth, and Reps. Nicholas Bain of Corinth and Lester “Bubba” Carpenter of Burnsville, hosted the group which included Sen. Chris Massey of Nesbit, Rep. Clara Burnett of Tunica, Rep. Alyce Clarke of Jackson, Rep. Chuck Middleton of Port Gibson, Rep. Sara Thomas of Indianola and Rep. Greg Holloway Sr. of Hazlehurst.
“We wanted to do something to highlight our region of the state,” Bain said. “Bubba and I are on the tourism committee and the chairman was very open to the idea, so we got them signed up to come here. It turned out to be a great time since October 3rd and 4th to the day were the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Corinth.”
Martinson has visited Corinth once before.
“I was born and raised in Gloster, but have lived in Madison 40 years,” she said. “I was excited that we’d be coming here.”
As their tour of Corinth began Thursday morning at the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, Bain presented Woody Harrell, retired superintendent of Shiloh National Military Park, with a plaque from the state Legislature that honors his long career of service.
“The key thing for me is the whole time I was here there was an extremely good partnership between the local, state and federal government,” Harrell said. “We just had a very positive partnership where many people were interested in preservation. For so many years I worked closely with Elbert Hilliard of Archives and History, and Rosemary Williams here in Corinth. It’s a credit to all folks willing to work collaboratively, and a tribute to them. I hope that will continue with legislators coming up. Their interest in historical tourism I think is a very good thing.”
Harrell then conducted the group’s tour of the interpretive center, sharing his extensive Civil War historical knowledge from 22 years heading Shiloh, the National Park Service unit that administers the interpretive center, and years before that at other NPS Civil War sites.
“As many times as I’ve visited the interpretive center I felt like a tourist too and heard a lot I didn’t know before,” Bain said.
The itinerary, planned by the Corinth Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and underwritten by Cook Coggin Engineers, took them to the Crossroads Museum, on a walking tour and shopping in Historic Downtown Corinth, for a slugburger at Borroum’s Drug Store with its old-fashioned soda fountain, and on a brief tour of Iuka’s Old Courthouse Museum.
“I’ve been as far north before as Oxford,” Holloway said. “This is my first time in this area and it’s beautiful country.”
“This trip is bringing focus on the nice things we have to offer tourists and citizens in the state,” Burnett added. “It’s an eye-opening thing – makes you appreciate your state.”
The day concluded with an evening of entertainment at Corinth’s premier fall event, the 22nd annual Hog Wild Barbecue Festival.
“I believe they all had a great time,” Bain said. “I was just ecstatic to have them here to show them what Corinth and Alcorn County bring to the state.”
lena.mitchell@journalinc.com