Country Music Exhibit Expected to Draw Thousands

By: Rachel Alig Email
By: Rachel Alig Email

Anticipation continues to build around the Sparkle & Twang Exhibit: Marty Stuart's American Musical Odyssey.

"I think that we can easily expect 15,000 or more," said Lauderdale County tourism director, Suzy Johnson.

That's how many people are expected to visit the MSU Riley Center to see the country music memorabilia while it's on display July 10 to Sept. 18.

"We thought that this was a really important opportunity for us to help bring an exhibit here that showcases our musical heritage," said Penny Kemp, marketing director for the MSU Riley Center. "Obviously, we present a lot of shows in our theater that allow people to enjoy music of all genres. I think it is equally important to showcase our musical history as Mississippians and as Meridianites."

The Sparkle & Twang Exhibit will be in Meridian for a total of two months. That's two months that local businesses, including hotels and restaurants, may expect thousands of people to be in town to visit the exhibit.

The collection includes items like a sweater belonging to Elvis Presley, a Patsy Cline dress, unpublished photos of legends like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, and handwritten lyrics.

"We're hoping that it will have a tremendous impact on our community," said Johnson. "And we are doing a number of activities that are in conjunction with the event. So, the goal is to bring them in to see the exhibit and get them to stay to see some of our other activities. And, of course, while they are here we want them to see some of our normal attractions as well."

And it's not just local community members the exhibit will likely attract. Kemp and other Riley Center officials are expecting people from all over.

"We're thrilled to host it here and have people not only from across the state, but across the region, come see the exhibit," Kemp said.

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