Meridian, Miss. Final numbers are still being tallied on what it seems was the largest turnout ever for the Soule' Steam Festival/Railfest earlier this month in Meridian. Tourism officials are optimistic that local holiday numbers will be just as impressive.
"You know the folks in Tuscaloosa don't have a Belk and don't have some of the shops that we have here," says Dede Mogollon, who's the Executive Director for the Lauderdale County Tourism Office. "So, some of them will drive over here to shop."
As part of an effort to promote holiday tourism, the local tourism office has purchased an ad in the latest edition of Mississippi Magazine to promote the upcoming Merry Meridian activities.
Also, the agency is utilizing its new smartphone app, which now has hundreds of subscribers.
"We're using our mobile app this year to push out alerts about what's going on.," says Mogollon.
For the year, tourism is up in Lauderdale County by more than 15%. With gas prices at their current level, that number is only expected to get better.
"You know that gas prices are the lowest that we have seen in a very long time, and we see travel spike when gas prices drop," says Mogollon. "So, it should make for a busy holiday season."
Merry Meridian activities will start Saturday, November 23rd with the Miss Merry Meridian Pageant, and the kickoff of the Trees of Christmas event the following day at Merrehope. Some other activities will take place the first weekend in December. They include: The Merry Meridian Marketplace and Christmas Parade on Saturday followed by the singing Christmas Tree Concert at Highland Baptist Church on Sunday, December, 1st.