Meeting on county tourism held in Poplarville

Published 7:27 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Local Poplarville and Picayune business leaders met in Poplarville Tuesday to discuss tourism in both cities as well as in the county.

Poplarville Alderman Shirley Wiltshire said she worked with Poplarville tourism several years ago, and she would like to see tourism promoted within the cities and county.

Picayune Main Street Manager Reba Beebe said there are grants available to promote tourism, but the grants are available only to regional committees, not to individual cities and towns.

“If we had countywide, or regional, tourism, we could apply for those grants,” Beebe said. Beebe said she would like to see a countywide committee formed in order to be eligible for the tourism grants that are available.

Some of the better known tourist attractions within the county that were mentioned included King’s Arrow Ranch and golf course at Hillsdale, the mud bog in Poplarville, “First Friday” in Picayune between June and September, the Blueberry Jubilee in Poplarville held annually on the second Saturday of June, and the Picayune Street Fair held biannually in April and November.

John Braswell, Associate Extension Professor of the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, said tours of the laboratories and grounds of the station could be arranged. The Poplarville station performs all fruit research for the Southeastern United States, and is one of only two or three stations doing fruit research in the U.S., Braswell said. The new federal building, which combines federal and Mississippi State University workers, is one of only four or five buildings like it in the country, Braswell said.

Another lesser known tourist site mentioned is the museum located on the Pearl River Community College Campus. The museum, which is in the south wing of Hancock Hall, features history of the college as well as the county. PRCC was the first community college in the state, is the sixteenth oldest in the nation, and was the first junior college in the nation to include a military curriculum, making it a significant part of the county’s history.

Beebe also mentioned the Picayune Farmer’s Market, which opens Friday, Aug. 3, at Jack Read Park. The market will feature produce from local growers, and will be held on Tuesdays and Fridays each week.

Another tourist attraction would be the soda fountain in the back of Pearl River Drugstore in Poplarville, which is the only soda fountain left in the area. “You can get soda and ice cream. It’s a step back in time,” said Wiltshire.

Debra Smith, of the Poplarville School District, said a lot of people enjoy Canal Street in Picayune because of the ease with which one can park and walk to the many shops along the street.

Linda Hanberry, of the Picayune Chamber of Commerce, said she would like to work with the Poplarville Chamber of Commerce to promote tourism within the two cities and within the county.

“Our county has so much to offer,” Beebe said.

“South Mississippi is on a roll, and I think we (Pearl River County) can add to it,” said Bettye Applewhite, of Apples, Ltd.