Photo courtesy Corinth Area CVB
Mississippi is full of colors, and not all of them are “blues.”
Although the state is known for the soulful music that began in its Delta region, Mississippi enjoys a wide range of artistic traditions. Locals pride themselves in their music, painting, sculpture, theater, writing and other art forms.
For visitors, a helping of the arts makes a great addition to any Mississippi tour menu. Consider taking in some of these sites in Clarksdale, Jackson and Corinth on your group’s next trip through the area.
You know it as the birthplace of the blues, but Coahoma County was also the birthplace of playwright Tennessee Williams, who spent his early childhood in the area.
“He would have just celebrated his 100th birthday in 2011,” said Kappi Allen, director of Clarksdale/Coahoma County Tourism. “He lived here as a young child with his mother and sister and grandparents.
“He gained a lot of exposure, and learned about the people, the places and the magic of the Mississippi Delta. A lot of the character names in his plays came from actual people in the Delta.”
Groups can take a historical tour of downtown Clarksdale, where they’ll see the places where Williams lived and played as a child, as well as some of the places that inspired scenes in his plays. A church library in town has a historical exhibit about Williams’ life, and a festival celebrates his work every October with dramatic readings and “porch plays” on the porches of historic homes.
“We invite school students from all over the state to come and compete in monologues and scenes of his work,” Allen said. “We have porch plays in the historic district put on by actors and actresses that live in that historic area. It’s just magical.”
Other events highlight the area’s blues music heritage; they include the Juke Joint Festival in April, Sunflower River Blues Festival in August and the Hambone Festival in October.
Art lovers will find beauty and design in all sorts of interesting places on a visit to Corinth. In addition to an art gallery that features sculpture, painting, jewelry and crafts created by local artists, Corinth highlights art at historic sites such as the Civil War Interpretive Center and the Corinth Contraband Camp.
“The contraband camp was home to many slaves who fled the lower South during the Civil War,” said Kristy White, director of Corinth Area Tourism. “Today, there are actually some bronze statues depicting life for these contraband, or runaway slaves, in the park. They show people like a washerwoman, a teacher and an African-American soldier.”
The Civil War Interpretive Center also has a number of bronze sculptures in addition to an outdoor fountain courtyard, which interprets 100 years of American history through art.
For a unique regional arts experience, groups should plan to visit the Green Market, which takes place the first weekend of each month from April through October.
“There are an average of 50 vendors, and everything they have is hand made within a 100-mile radius of Corinth,” White said. “We have some local potters that give demonstrations and local musicians that come and play. The locally made arts and crafts in the market are really second to none.”
A special version of the market, called the Red Green Market, takes place during December and features Christmas-themed items such as pottery, lawn ornaments and jewelry.