Vicksburg to host ‘Back Stage Pass’

Published 12:02 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Event planners from around the state will be flocking to Vicksburg at the end of January.

A collaboration between the Mississippi Main Street Association, Visit Mississippi, the Mississippi Arts Commission and local sponsors, Back Stage Pass 2017, an annual conference to “prepare event coordinators to plan and implement memorable events in Mississippi’s hometowns,” will be held in the Red Carpet City Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, according to a press release.

This year’s theme, “A Nod to the Past and a Vision for the Future,” hints the special importance of this year’s event, as 2017 is Mississippi’s 200th anniversary as a state.

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“With it being the bicentennial and Vicksburg being so historic, it’s the perfect place for 2017, though we didn’t necessarily plan it that way,” Jeannie Waller Zieren, director of training and information for the Mississippi Main Street Association, said, noting in surveys for previous events Vicksburg was listed as a place attendees would like a future conference to be held.

Though Zieren said the majority of the approximately 200 attendees expected at the event, which will mostly be held at the Vicksburg Convention Center, will be associated with city government and professional event planning, the conference is open to anyone interested in planning an event in Mississippi.

“Different cities around the state see different numbers, but we’ll see 150 and hopefully close to 200 people attend,” she said of the event, now in its sixth year. “We work really hard to create a totally new conference each year. It’s one of those things that you can go to every year and learn something new.”

Though the conference will have staple sessions, like its intro to festivals and events session, Zieren said parts of the conference will focus on bicentennial event planning as well.

Mary Margaret Miller, Visit Mississippi’s creative economy and culture bureau manager, said, “We hope that our sessions will inspire attendees to recognize the state’s deep, complex and sometimes volatile history. Moreover, we intend for attendees to come away with a vision of what our communities will look like in the next 200 years. We are optimistic about the future of our state, and we know that creative placemaking, entrepreneurship and events are at the root of its success.”

Zieren added event sessions will feature mostly speakers from Mississippi.

“We’re heavily Mississippi influenced,” she said. “We rely heavily on Mississippi experts.”

In addition to conference sessions, Back Stage Pass 2017 will feature a Mississippi Artists Showcase and an opportunity for businesses or artists to exhibit wares or services that could be booked for an event.

Attendees who visit all exhibitors will be entered to win a free concert by a Mississippi roster artist.

The event, Zieren said, aims to boost local economies and Mississippi’s creative economy.

“We talk to you about how to include your merchants at your event. We look at how an event can attract money that stays in the local economy,” she said.

Registration for the event opened last week with a pass for the event costing $100. For more information on how to register call 601-944-0113.