It’ll be 2016 before you know it, which means it’s the perfect time to start making plans for the upcoming year. From annual fairs and festivals to some of the state’s top attractions, here are 16 things everyone in Mississippi must do in the new year.
1. Attend the Neshoba County Fair.
Also known as “Mississippi’s Giant House Party,” the Neshoba County Fair attracts thousands of people from all across the country every year – and for good reason. The week-long fair is made up of a ton of activities that include everything from rides to political speeches, but the best part is the fact that there are on-site cabins, basically creating an amazing summer camp atmosphere for people of all ages.
2. Celebrate a Natchez milestone.
Whether you’ve never been or have been planning a return trip, 2016 is the year to visit Natchez as the city is set to commemorate its tricentennial. Celebratory events will be held throughout the year and will include unique festivals, historical reenactments, athletic competitions, musical tributes, parades, powwows, music and arts, and annual events with tricentennial themes.
3. Attend the Slugburger Festival.
What better way to pay tribute to Corinth’s local culinary delight than with a three-day celebration? In addition to all the slugburgers one’s heart could desire, attendees can enjoy live entertainment, arts and crafts, and carnival rides.
4. Take a Pilgrimage Tour in Natchez.
Offered twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, Natchez’s Pilgrimage Tours take visitors through the best historic homes the city has to offer.
5. Be one of the many fans in the stands at the Egg Bowl.
Ever since 1901, the MSU and Ole Miss football teams have been meeting on the field once a year for the game of all games. By 1927, the tradition of passing ownership of the coveted Golden Egg Trophy to the game’s winner began. Between the sportsmanship and the tradition, this is one event that should be on the bucket lists of all Mississippi football fans.
6. Sail away to Ship Island.
Just a short boat ride from the Gulf Coast, Ship Island is a tropical paradise, complete with gorgeous white beaches and beautiful blue water. The perfect way to spend a hot afternoon, a trip to Ship Island should be on everyone’s summer to-do list.
7. Peruse the Canton Flea Market.
Known throughout the south as “The Flea Market,” this Canton event attracts up to1,000 craftsmen and vendors from all across the country and has even been ranked amongst the “Top Twenty Events in the Southeast.” And since it’s held twice a year (the second Thursday in May and October), you’ll have two chances to check out the nationally renowned flea market for yourself in 2016.
8. Spend a week Cruisin’ the Coast.
Every October, thousands of people head to the Gulf Coast for a week-long celebration known as Cruisin’ the Coast. A car enthusiast’s dream come true, the event attracts people from all over the country, Canada, and even Sweden. Aside from the thousands of antique, classic, and hot rod vehicles that take part in the festival, Cruisin’ the Coast also includes a ton of vendors and live musical performances.
9. Experience the Mississippi State Fair.
Held in Jackson every October, the Mississippi State Fair is not only a local tradition but the perfect way to kick off the fall season. The family-friendly event consists of a variety of food vendors, midway rides, livestock competitions and exhibits, musical entertainment featuring top name performers, and much more.
10. Tour the Vicksburg National Military Park.
One of the state’s top attractions, the Vicksburg National Military is definitely worthy of at least one trip in 2016. The popular military park includes over 1,000 historic monuments and markers, several miles of reconstructed trenches and earthworks, a tour road, antebellum home, emplaced cannon, a restored Union gunboat, and the Vicksburg National Cemetery, which is second in size only to Arlington.
11. Head to space.
As an official NASA visitor center, Pearlington’s Infinity Space Center offers an educational experience like no other, making it a 2016 must-do. The science museum provides guests with a “quality, fun, and fascinating learning experience,” which includes a behind-the-scenes tour of Stennis Space Center, live presentations, digital movies, and starting in 2016, tram tours down the Possum Walk Trail.
12. Visit the (Little) Grand Canyon.
Referred to as “Mississippi’s Little Grand Canyon,” Red Bluff is a geologic formation that has been created by the natural erosion of the nearby Pearl River. The amazing sight has become an extremely popular tourist attraction, and should definitely be explored sooner rather than later as the formation continues to erode and evolve.
13. Travel the Natchez Trace.
This well-known trail, also known as the “Old Trace,” extends 450 miles, and leads visitors on a historical stroll along the same path that had been traversed for thousands of years by traders, missionaries, early settlers, and Indians. Not a fan of walking? Drive the Natchez Trace Parkway and take in the breathtaking scenery from the comfort of your car.
14. Fall for Dunn’s Falls.
Home to the tallest waterfall in the state (65’ to be exact), a visit to Enterprise’s Dunn’s Falls Water Park should definitely be on residents’ to-do lists for the upcoming year. Aside from numerous amenities and activities such as a picnic area complete with barbecue grills, cabins, hiking, and swimming, the water park also offers tours of the on-site grist mill, which was once powered by the waterfall.
15. Spend the day at Columbus' Market Street Festival.
For well over 10 years, the Market Street Festival has been included in the Southeast Tourism Society’s list of top events in the state. Attracting about 40,000 people on an annual basis, the two-day festival features more than 200 arts, crafts, and food vendors, musical entertainment, and numerous activities for the entire family.
16. Get your head in the clouds.
If you’re looking to try something completely new in 2016, you’ll definitely want to mark your calendar for this year’s Great Mississippi River Balloon Race. Taking place over the course of a weekend in October, the annual Natchez event includes hot air balloon races, carnival rides, live entertainment, great food from local chefs, and more.
These are just a few of the awesome events and attractions that Mississippi has to offer. What are some other things residents should be sure to do in 2016? Have you done any of the things listed above? Tell us in the comments section below.