Mississippi River Country Rolls Out Red Carpet to Canadians

Marie Staff of Louisiana and Lyn Pilch, Managing Director, Mississippi River Country
Marie Stagg of Louisiana and Lyn Pilch, Managing Director, Mississippi River Country

States as diverse as Illinois, Tennessee and Louisiana joined up to host a Mississippi River Country-themed dinner for travel media in Toronto. A new tourism initiative, Mississippi River Country unites the 10 states that border the river, which has been called the backbone of America.

At 3,800 km long, the Mississippi is renowned as a fount of literature, music, folklore and food: and what food! The menu featured Louisiana seafood gumbo, venison filet (representing Minnesota) and Arkansas cornmeal fried catfish.

That’s a long river! And a lot going on all the way from North to South. Open Jaw learned just a few facts that will pique the interests of Canadian travellers:

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Tennessee is more than just country music: clients can get their fill of jazz, blues and rock’n’roll – Elvis Presley’s home Graceland in Memphis is a must-see for fans of The King. But if country music is their thing, definitely a visit to Dollywood (named for singer Dolly Parton) should be on clients’ travel wish list.

Doug Bourgeois demonstrating just how big the fish are in Louisiana!
Doug Bourgeois, Secretary of Tourism for the State of Louisiana, demonstrating just how big the fish are in Louisiana!

Doug Bourgeois, Secretary of Tourism for the State of Louisiana, says that the state is full of picturesque small communities and there is a big program to revitalize “Main Streets”. He recommends that snowbirds enroute to Texas take the time to the sample the new Gas Station Eats Trail for such authentic, casual treats as meat pies and local sausage.

Toronto’s Joanne Scalamogna of Access Marketing which organized the event
Toronto’s Joanne Scalamogna of Access Marketing which organized the event

Arkansas (“The Natural State”) has 52 state parks and is a haven for kayakers, canoers or just folks who like the view of the Mississippi from a party barge. And yes there is a Walmart Museum in Bentonville! “We are a hidden jewel and would love see more Canadians!” Arkansan Kim Williams told Open Jaw.

And of course clients can get up close and personal with the Mississippi River on a host of day trips or longer cruises. New to the market is Viking, with 8 and 15 day Mississippi River cruises; while clients can experience life on an iconic paddle wheeler thanks to American Queen Steamboat Company’s 8 and 15 day cruises; and American Cruise Lines has 3 week itineraries for clients who want to experience the full Mississippi.

Find out more at mississippirivercountry.com.

Kim Williams, Director Arkansas's Great River Road, is proud to call Arkansas a “state of contrasts”.
Kim Williams, Director Arkansas’s Great River Road, is proud to call Arkansas a “state of contrasts”.

Martha Chapman

Columnist

An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions series as well as special seasonal series. She can often be seen On The Town covering industry events. Known to all in the biz, Martha has worked her entire career in travel, beginning as a teenaged hotel receptionist in Bermuda.

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