JACKSON -- Tourism officials are reminding Mississippians of the abundance of local festivals and fairs to enjoy across the state.
"Enjoying great food, music and hospitality in the beautiful outdoors is a vital part of the Mississippi story and something we enjoy sharing with visitors. Throughout the summer, communities host festivals and fairs that showcase the authentic sights and sounds of our state's culture and invite residents and visitors to embrace that culture for themselves," Malcolm White, director of Visit Mississippi, said in a news release.
Tourism officials highlight some of the events:
n 65th annual Choctaw Indian Fair in Philadelphia, July 9-12
The four-day event includes tribal arts, crafts, dances, food and the action of World Championship Stickball.
n 27th annual Slugburger Festival in Corinth, July 10-12.
Slugburgers, a local delicacy, aren't made of slugs as the name implies. The secret recipe includes meat and a breading extender. The patty is deep fried and garnished with pickle, mustard and onion.
The event is sponsored by Main Street Corinth. The festival features a slugburger-eating contest, carnival rides, food vendors and musical performances, including a Slug Idol competition.
n 36th annual Mississippi Watermelon Festival in Mize, July 18-19.
Since 1978, the Mississippi Watermelon Festival in Mize has celebrated the delicious, ripe, world-famous Smith County watermelons.
n Natchez Food and Wine Festival, July 25-27
The Natchez Food and Wine Festival hosts in some of the region's most prominent chefs and restaurants for a weekend of food, wine and entertainment.
n Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, July 25-Aug. 1.
"Mississippi's Giant House Party" began in 1889. The fair fosters political, agricultural and social exchanges of knowledge and ideas. It is home of the state's only licensed horse track since 1922 and the nation's largest campground fair.
n 26th annual Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival in Clarksdale, Aug. 8-10
The first Sunflower River Blues Festival took place in 1988 and was funded primarily by Clarksdale's downtown merchants. Since then, one of the largest blues and gospel festivals in Mississippi has grown every year. Celebrated for its authenticity and focus on Mississippi's musical heritage, the event features entertainment by local and nationally known blues and gospel artists.
n Jackson Rhythm & Blues Festival, Aug. 15-16
On multiple stages at the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum, this inaugural event will be headlined by American Idol winner Fantasia and Ziggy Marley and will feature over 30 of R&B artists from across the Southeast, including Bell Biv Devoe, Chrisette Michele, Estelle, Dorothy Moore, Curtis Salgado and Boney James.