Wiggins, MS — In recognition of National Tourism Week, the Stone County Economic Development Partnership is inviting residents to join them in celebrating the economic impact of tourism in Stone County. We have invited some of our local musicians and artists to join us on Tuesday, May 5, 11:30 – 2 p.m. at the Dizzy Dean Welcome Center on HWY 49 South to help us celebrate. Members of the Pine Hill Dulcimers will set the tone with familiar tunes. Also joining the festivities, members of the Red Creek Classic Car club along with a display from the Firehouse Museum.
In recognition of Stone County Tourism, we will be unveiling the proposed design of our new Welcome Sign, designed by Kym Garraway-Braley. Kym is a local mural artist, her handiwork is enjoyed throughout the county. We have invited members of the Stone High art department to help with painting a Welcome Canvas during the event. Members of the public are asked to join us and share their artistic skills by grabbing a paint brush and adding their creative touch to the canvas. Lunch is being prepared by the Culinary Arts students. The event is filled with the creative talent of many of our local citizens. The public is invited to join us.
Rural Tourism is increasingly viewed as a viable means to stimulate the local economy by attracting tourists in search of new, authentic experiences. Stone County is rich in natural resources including the De Soto National Forrest, one of the most important protected areas in the Gulf South, features year-round opportunities for outdoor activities including camping, canoeing, bird-watching, photography, hunting, fishing and more. Flint Creek Water Park, a 1,900 acre facility managed by Pat Harrison Waterway District, plays host to approximately 300,000 visitors each year. Additional campgrounds are scattered about the county. Opportunities to enjoy a working dairy or goat farm are among some of the favorite family activities in the area. Community volunteers, local business participation along with support from the Board of Supervisors and the City of Wiggins combine to help the Economic Development Partnership create special events designed to entice visitors throughout the year.
Visitors on the lookout for interesting places will find a unique series of murals throughout the county depicting the rich history of Stone County including timber, sports, the Red Creek watershed, and more. In 2012, the State Legislature designated Stone County as Mississippi’s Official Mural County. We will have the Emile Blackmore Stapp murals on display. “Happy” as she became known, had a fifty-year career as a philanthropist and children’s author. She founded the Go Hawks Happy Tribe – 80,000 members strong - who determined to do one act of kindness each day. She established the Library of Stone County.
According to a report recently released by the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division, indications are that travel and tourism’s visibility in Mississippi is at an all-time high. The report estimates FY 2014 economic contribution at the state and county level.* Based on figures released, Stone County has enjoyed $10.2 million in travel and tourism expenditures by visitors to our area. One hundred, thirty-five direct travel and tourism jobs, and $806,044 paid in state and local fees and taxes. “We find these numbers impressive and we want to share this good news as we state the importance of economic development in Stone County” said Ike Harbuck, Chairman of Stone County Economic Development Partnership.
We invite the citizens of Stone County to join us as we celebrate the importance of tourism, Stone County style. For more information, contact SCEDP, 601-928-5418.
*MDA/Tourism Division; Tom Van Hyning Research Program. 601-359-3297