The Gulf Coast region is the most popular resort area in the state and is the site of notable historic attractions. One of them, the Old Spanish Fort, at Pascagoula, is said to be the oldest existing building in the lower Mississippi Valley. Built in 1718 as a carpenter’s or blacksmith’s shack, it and an associated museum adjoin a cemetery containing the graves of early settlers. Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, stands near Biloxi.
The Natchez area is the center of antebellum architecture in Mississippi. Many of the mansions and their beautiful gardens are open to visitors. Additional places of interest are found in and around Jackson and Vicksburg.
In Jackson are the Governor’s Mansion, completed in 1842, and the former state capitol, which dates from the 1830s. The capitol building, seat of the state legislature until 1903, now houses the Mississippi State Historical Museum. Places to visit at Vicksburg include the Old Courthouse Museum, which contains mementos of the Confederacy; and the Cairo, a restored Civil War gunboat, which contains various historical artifacts from that era. The casinos in Mississippi are all located, as required by law, on naturally navigable waterways aboard permanently moored vessels. There are concentrations of resort casinos along the Gulf Coast and at several sites on the Mississippi River. The one exception is the casino not under state control located on the Choctaw reservation in Neshoba County.
The annual Biloxi Shrimp Festival, one of the most popular annual events in Mississippi, includes the crowning of a queen and the blessing of the shrimp fleet in June. Earlier in the year, Mardi Gras is celebrated at Pascagoula and Natchez. In March and April is the month-long Natchez Spring Pilgrimage, which includes pageants and tours of the antebellum mansions and their gardens. Similar pilgrimages are also held in spring at Aberdeen, Port Gibson, Vicksburg, Holly Springs, and Columbus and in cities along the Gulf Coast. Confederate Memorial Day is celebrated throughout the state in April. The Mississippi Arts Festival is also hld in April, in Jackson, featuring a wide variety of performing artists. In May the Jubilee Jam Art and Music Festival is held in Jackson. In midsummer at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, townspeople move into cabins on the fairgrounds for a week; state politicians traditionally open their campaigns there. Around Labor Day some 200 hot-air balloons lift off during the Mississippi Sky Parade in Jackson, which includes an air show and balloon races. The Mississippi Fair and Dairy Show is held at Meridian the first week in October; and the Mississippi State Fair, in October at Jackson. "Mississippi" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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