Weekend activities aplenty for park, Vicksburg area

Published 11:29 am Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Independence Day holiday in Vicksburg will offer a little something for everyone — history, patriotism, fireworks and Red, White and Blues performances.

Kicking off events will be Friday’s release of “The Art of Commemoration,” a 100-page guidebook to 21 monuments in the Vicksburg National Military Park, written by Civil War historian and Clinton resident, retired Brig. Gen. Parker Hills.

“The purpose of this work is to enhance viewer appreciation of the commemorative memorials in the Vicksburg National Military Park by pointing out details in the art and architecture and by providing interpretive information,” Hills said in a prepared statement.

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Hills will present the first signed copy of the guide to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., at 10 a.m. on the steps of the Illinois Memorial and Wicker will offer remarks.

Also, Michael Madell, VNMP superintendent, will announce the details of the park’s commemorative plans to mark the 150th anniversary of the 1863 Campaign and Siege of Vicksburg. A number of special events and programs will be sponsored by and held at the park in the months ahead, notably key observances over Memorial Day weekend, May 23-27.

“The Art of Commemoration” details state memorials and monuments for battle units and noteworthy individuals on both sides of the fight. Its 50,000 copy printing was financed by a grant from the National Park Service’s Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative and a contribution from the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. It is free, and will be available at Friday’s event and later at the VCVB’s visitor information center on Clay Street or through the bureau’s website at visitvicksburg.com.

Patriotic selections will key a performance of the Vicksburg Orchestral Society Sunday at 4 p.m. at First Baptist Church.

Sponsored by the Four Seasons of the Arts, the concert will be conducted by Dr. Darcy Bishop and feature soloist Dr. Clarissa Davis.

“The Orchestral Society is made up of dedicated professionals in our own community who are so gifted in their artistry, said longtime Four Seasons head Frances Koury. “We’ve tried hard to keep a patriotic program for the Fourth of July. We’ve begun to lose the real theme of the day and need to remember it.”

Koury said the music will include selections of Americana, a sing-along and a reception with cake, ice cream and lemonade. About 400 to 500 people have attended past Independence Day concerts, she said.

One highlight will be a performance of a poem Koury wrote after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, “In Times Like These.” The poem was set to music by Dr. Jay Dean of the University of Southern Mississippi.

The city’s Red, White and Blues Fourth of July celebration will be anchored by the Willie Dixon Birthday Memorial Sunday, with the Subway Revue band playing Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Ameristar Bottleneck Blues Bar, 4116 Washington St.

This is the sixth year Dixon’s July 1 birthday has been celebrated with a concert in his hometown.

“People all over the world are interested in coming to Vicksburg to visit the place where he was born,” said Vicksburg Blues Society member Shirley Waring. “We are hoping for this to become a festival.”

The holiday would not be complete without a Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza, which will be held again this year at the Vicksburg waterfront near the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Depot on Levee Street.

Kicking off the celebration at 7 p.m., New Orleans vocalist Frank Washington will sing the national anthem, and then the R&B band Compozitionz will put on the annual Independence Day concert.

The traditional fireworks display, launched from a barge in the Yazoo Diversion Canal, will begin around 9.

The city’s Fourth of July committee raises the money to pay for the stage, stagehands, band and related expenses, while the City of Vicksburg chips in the $30,000 cost of the fireworks.