Discover Meridian, MS's Entertainment District

By Jessica Mozo on January 25, 2012 at 3:53 pm EST
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Meridian has long been a destination for entertainment, thanks to its grand historical Temple Theater, the Mississippi State University Riley Center, the Meridian Symphony Orchestra and community theater groups such as the Meridian Little Theatre. But in 2010, local and state leaders made it official by declaring in Meridian the state’s first designated entertainment district.

The designation came after state legislature passed the Mississippi Entertainment District Act, which allows cities to designate areas as entertainment districts with tax incentives to encourage growth in entertainment-related businesses. Other entertainment-rich cities such as Tupelo are expected to follow suit.

MSU Riley Center

The designation came as no surprise to residents of Meridian and the surrounding area who have been enjoying local entertainment for decades. The MSU Riley Center, for example, offers a monthly roster of performing arts events that run the gamut from jazz and country music to pop and R&B.

Not only do patrons enjoy world-renowned performers at the Riley Center, they also revel in stunning architecture. The downtown building is a fully restored 1889 grand opera house that seats 950 people. It is owned by Mississippi State University and is also used for conferences and educational shows for area students.

Temple Theater

Downtown Meridian’s Temple Theater also packs the house with a variety of events, from musicals such as The Sound of Music to performances by the South Mississippi Ballet Theatre. The first Friday of each month, Temple Theater hosts The Sucarnochee Revue, a live taping of a radio program featuring local, regional and national musical talent. It is hosted by award-winning singer/songwriter Jacky Jack White and is aired by roughly 60 radio stations around the world.

Mississippi Country Music Trail

Some of Mississippi’s most famous native sons and daughters are celebrated at local tourism attractions such as the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center, the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Museum, and Mississippi Country Music Trail markers honoring Jimmie Rodgers, Elsie McWilliams and Moe Bandy.

Rodgers’ marker is located at Oak Grove Baptist Church Cemetery. Born in Meridian in 1897, he is widely recognized as the “Father of Country Music,” and a Mississippi Blues Trail marker honoring Rodgers is also located in Meridian.

McWilliams’ marker is located on the lawn of the Lauderdale Courthouse. A Meridian housewife, mother and Sunday school music teacher, McWilliams was the first woman to have a successful country songwriting career, contributing music and lyrics for 39 songs performed by Rodgers.

Discover more on the arts in Meridian, MS.

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It's staggering the quality entertainment the [MSU Riley Center] has brought to Meridian. We are fortunate to experience this here without having to travel to larger markets. Instead, we benefit from tourists coming to us.

Wink Glover, longtime Meridianite