Festivals in Vicksburg, MS

By Jeannie Naujeck on April 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm EST
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Whether by foot, bike, boat or flight, outdoor enthusiasts can find plenty to do in Warren County, and Vicksburg boasts a year-round calendar of sporting activities for participants and spectators alike.

Each fall, the Mighty Mississippi provides the backdrop for Over the River Run, a five-mile run and racewalk across the Old Mississippi River Bridge. Now more than 20 years old, the race is becoming increasingly popular each year, attracting more than 600 runners and walkers in 2009.

The event is one of the state’s largest and attracts numerous sponsors, including Ameristar Casino, the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, Good Samaritan Physical Therapy, Velocity Sports Performance, and Central Mississippi Medical Center.

“It takes not only a village but a city to organize the race," says Annette Kirklin, executive director of the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, which puts on the event with the help of 165 volunteers.

“The event was paid for before the first entry came in,” Kirklin said. “The community really comes together around it.”

Vicksburg also hosts the 10K and 5K Run Thru History race on the first Saturday in March. The race, which celebrated its 31st year in 2009, begins in the historic Vicksburg National Military Park and attracts more than 1,000 runners each year.

A different kind of sport is the annual Guns of Vicksburg Sporting Clay Shoot held in August. The shoot is sanctioned by the National Sporting Clay Association.

In 2009, the shoot moved to Tara Wildlife, an 18,000-acre private wildlife preserve at Eagle Lake, which also has lodging for out-of-town guests, about 30 minutes north of Vicksburg.

Financial advisor Wayne Pratt prefers to relax by paddling along the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and he reports seeing blue herons, huge turtles, pelicans, pairs of nesting bald eagles and alligators around beautiful Lake Centennial, one mile west of the Vicksburg waterfront.

“You can put in at the riverfront, and within 15 to 20 minutes you can work your way into the riverbed, and it’s like you’re in the Everglades,” he says.

Pratt organizes the annual spring BluzCruz Marathon, a 22-mile canoe and kayak race along the Mississippi River. BluzCruz started out with a just handful of paddlers and now brings in about 60, hailing from as far as Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

The event is held each spring during Riverfest, the annual April festival that features an arts and crafts show, diverse food booths and live music from headliners like country singers Aaron Tippin and Andy Griggs.

Townspeople gather around the waterfront to welcome in the athletes.

"Paddling is a great release," Pratt says. "There is so much to see around Vicksburg."

 

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