You have a group member who has walked the Great Wall of China and observed the talented basket weavers of South Africa, but hasn’t been to the museum down the street.
However, Adelaide Fletcher, the recently retired director of Planters Partners at Planters Bank in Indianola, Mississippi, is a major fan of finding fun in her backyard, and she pulled off a mystery trip when group members gathered in the bank only to discover their destination was their own hometown.
Indianola, at first glance a seemingly common dot on the map, is anything but common. Like so many of our unpretentious hometowns, there are must-see jewels in Indianola, and Fletcher, a lifelong resident, knows them all.
“The star attraction on the trip was the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center,” said Fletcher. “B.B., perhaps the biggest ambassador of the blues, was born nearby and made his living on a local plantation. The museum has been a huge success, attracting tens of thousands of people from around the world.”
Like Fletcher, we’re encouraging groups to discover Americana gems. Though surveys consistently tell travel planners that Americans want to have authentic experiences when they travel to foreign countries, from having dinner with a local family in Tuscany to helping a Japanese noodle-maker, we sometimes overlook those experiences in the USA.
Singing the Blues in Mississippi
Admittedly, it’s pretty hard to compete with a place as cool as the B.B. King Museum, where individuals are encouraged to play a little blues of their own in a guitar studio that makes wannabee musicians drool. But first, visitors start their journey in a theater, being introduced to the rich cultural and musical heritage of the Mississippi Delta and the life of B.B. King. From there, galleries immerse guests in the early-20th-century challenges in the Delta for King and other African-Americans, as well as King’s journey to Memphis, where he became a star on Beale Street.
Finally, after learning about King’s rising success in the 1960s on the Chitlin’ Circuit in the South and then around the world, visitors discover his role in civil rights and his work with the underprivileged.
Waving the Flag in Wisconsin
Patriots will think that a flagpole in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is pretty cool. Earlier this year, Acuity, a property and casualty insurer whose headquarters is in Sheboygan, erected a 400-foot pole on its campus that is the tallest in North America and that is touted as the world’s tallest symbol of freedom. A 60-by-120-foot American flag flies on the pole year-round.
“A veterans memorial with benches and all the names of every Sheboygan County veteran killed in the line of duty is at the base of the pole,” said Paul Miller, communications manager at Acuity.
One of the most visible landmarks on the Interstate 43 corridor and a symbol of gratitude to this country and those who defend it, the pole has also been praised as an engineering marvel and was a headliner in Civil Engineering, the magazine of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
“This was not our first attempt to build the country’s tallest flagpole. The others proved they could not endure in our sometimes harsh weather conditions. It was an engineering feat just to combat the swing,” said Miller.