Pair driven to promote Vicksburg and its history

Published 9:36 am Monday, October 10, 2016

Michael Logue and Corey Rickrode want to make Vicksburg the state’s premier tourist destination one dot at a time.

The men are the driving force behind the Historic Vicksburg Advisory Council, an organization of representatives from the city’s tourism and historic boards and commissions dedicated to promoting and turning Vicksburg’s history into an industry for the city.

A California native, Rickrode moved to Vicksburg in 2015 with his wife Patricia, and the couple bought the Baer House, an 1870s mansion on Grove Street as an inn and bed and breakfast.

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“One of the reasons we came out to the city of Vicksburg was because of the history of the town,” he said. “After being here a year, we realized there was very little or none, as far as promotion of the history of the town to anything, and certainly not to create tourism.

“We also had our guests who had things they wanted to do and see, and we’d find out about things three or four weeks later.”

That led to the dots.

“The dots were those separate groups all through town who had their own little cliques, and didn’t reach out for support or for encouragement, and I noticed there were a number of them,” he said.

He helped restart the Bed and Breakfast Association of Vicksburg, and was named the group’s president. His first presentation “was the dots presentation about how all these dots were in the community and none of them talked to each other, and how do we put all the dots together.

“The idea was, for Vicksburg to be a tourist town, it needs to be promote the history of this town. It’s one of the most historic towns in the United States, and we do nothing to promote it. We’re more interested in promoting the outlet mall than promoting the history of the town, which will draw more tourism.”

Logue, he said, compared the dot concept to pixels in a digital photo. “There’s a lot of pixels out there, but when they all come together, they make a beautiful picture.”

“My family has been here since 1813,” said Logue, president of the Vicksburg Guides Association, which provides guided tours of the city and the Vicksburg National Military Park. “I’m the old crowd, he’s the new crowd. And I told our first meeting, ‘I tend to really listen when new people come with investment and vision, and I go back to 40 years ago.’

“A man came here from Kansas. There was no soccer program in the state of Mississippi, and he and his family became the coaches and referees, and now we have 18,000 kids playing soccer in Mississippi. That’s the kind of new vision that comes into a town, and you need to pay attention to someone like Corey.”

He volunteered his services to Rickrode.

“I told him basically, ‘Everybody knows me or knows of me. Let me send an email out to folks and see if they’re interested in doing that,’” Logue said.

He said everyone responded they interested in meeting.

“So all the dots wanted to do this,” he said. “We involved not only the businesses, and the museums, but also the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, several of our dots are board members and staff members of the VCVB. Mayor George Flaggs Jr. is also involved.”

“So everybody says, ‘Hey. This is something we really need to do; to get together once a month and talk about where we’re going, where are our priorities, who’s doing what and how can all of us help that one person who has something that’s challenging them right now.”

The organization meets monthly to discuss events going on around town and how to promote them.

“We’re throwing our organization behind everyone of them. How can we help promote, give people ideas, turn out (and help); just anything,” he said.

“To me, the excitement factor has been just overwhelming,” Rickrode said. “Some of the successes of HVAC already has been the re-launching of the Civil War Roundtable, which has been quiet for 50 years, and with the restarting of the bed and breakfast association, the creation of what hopefully will be an event for many years to come, pilgrimage.

“It’s this support of the community and other large organizations, or even small organizations; just people who want to promote history.

“We came out (to Vicksburg), we bought the inn and as far as I can tell, right now, there is only one sign in the city that mentions the Civil War, and it sits in front of Adolph Rose’s store.”

He found it interesting, he said, there is not more promotion of Vicksburg’s as a historic town, “Probably the most historic town in the United States.”

“Scholars now say that Vicksburg was the most important thing that happened in the Civil War,” Logue said.

“And no one promotes it,” Rickrode said. “Our tourist promotion should be focused on bringing people to town.

“The fourth of July was a prime example. The most important day in the history of the United States, with the surrender of Pemberton and Grant coming in. The park was empty, there was nothing going on other than the fireworks. The fireworks were very nice, but I was just disappointed to be in a historic town and you just let it pass by like it didn’t exist.”

Logue said the council reminds people “there’s money on the ground lying there for us to pick up if we’ll just work a little harder and a little smarter and be more cohesive and let each other know what we are doing; make the most of what limited resources we have.”

At the council’s last meeting, Rickrode said, “ 290 different things going on that none of the other groups knew what was going on. That’s the disconnect. We need to all reach out so all the individuals on the list can step up to the plate and ask what can we do to help to help you promote your event.”

Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce executive director and council member Jane Flowers said some of her members are in the tourism business, “And I believe in supporting this community. When one hand knows what the other is doing, that’s real important.”

“Corey has taken such an interest in thinking of some new things we can do and reviving some of the old things we’ve done; I’m all for it. We have to take charge of these things. If you know it, you can talk about. Now the guides can tell people about it and get them to stay the night, because things are going on.”

“It’s a group effort,” Rickrode said. “If we promote tourism, tourism will promote jobs in this town, and everyone’s going to do well.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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