Clingan, Fondren honored by Mississippi Main Street Association during 2022 awards luncheon
Published 2:27 pm Friday, June 17, 2022
Vicksburg’s Joyce Clingan and the Catfish Row Museum were honored Thursday at the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA)’s Annual Awards Luncheon at The South Warehouse in downtown Jackson.
Clingan, owner of Vicksburg restaurant Walnut Hills, was honored as a Main Street Hero. The Main Street Hero Award recognizes an outstanding community leader or public figure who displays an involved commitment to downtown and his or her Main Street program.
Jeannie Zieren, Director of Communication and Marketing for the Mississippi Main Street Association, commented on Clingan’s award.
“Owning and operating your own restaurant certainly can have its own set of challenges, and yet Joyce Clingan has been doing it for decades,” Zieren said. “Her world-famous restaurant in downtown Vicksburg, Walnut Hills, reflects how she views her community: comfort and true Southern hospitality. She is a team player and wants all businesses to ride the wave of success. She values the rich history of (Vicksburg’s) community and has brought to fruition the preservation organization, the Vicksburg Heritage Guild.
“Anytime an event or patron is in need, Mrs. Joyce steps right in to help,” Zieren added. “She understands the importance of Main Street. She advocated to have her street included in the Main Street taxing district; it was approved, and she’s never regretted that decision. Like the preservation she works tirelessly to keep alive, the memories of gathering around ‘the Round Table’ are just a sliver of the hard work that Joyce has put forth in the downtown Vicksburg community.”
Vicksburg Main Street Director Kim Hopkins also commented on Clingan’s award.
“Joyce Clingan has been a Main Street Hero for many years,” Hopkins said. “Her hard work, entrepreneurship, partnership and genuine personality has brought so much to downtown Vicksburg. We wouldn’t be where we are today without her.”
The Catfish Row Museum, located at 913 Washington St., received an award for the Outstanding Facade Improvement Project. This award recognizes an individual or business that has completed improvements to the facade, or exterior facing wall, of a building located within a downtown district. Accepting the award Thursday was museum Executive Director Linda Fondren.
“This building has come a long way, from wagon manufacturing to bottling 7-Up to even having famous Blues musicians perform,” Zieren said. “It makes perfect sense for it to become a multicultural heritage museum. Catfish Row Museum introduces a cultural heritage experience that showcases the unique and diverse aspects of Vicksburg from its music, history and storytelling to its vibrant food heritage, religion and visual arts. In 2016 the Mississippi legislature approved a $500,000 grant to the city of Vicksburg for the museum project. Opening in 2021, the museum gives visitors the ultimate experience of Vicksburg.”
“Catfish Row Museum is a crucial component to our downtown and preserves our local culture,” Hopkins added. “This museum has been years in the making, and it was a wonderful moment to give an award and honor it for its hard work and accomplishments.”
Hopkins also thanked Rebecca Sigh, Main Street volunteer and Manager of the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market, for working with the Vicksburg Main Street Program on the awards.
The annual awards luncheon honors Main Street directors, board members and volunteers and recognizes the most outstanding downtown development and preservation projects and events from Main Street communities in Mississippi.
“The Annual Awards Luncheon is the highlight of our year where we get to celebrate the people, projects, and initiatives that make Mississippi’s downtowns the hub of activity in their communities,” said Thomas Gregory, MMSA Executive Director. “Our local Main Street programs work hard to implement a strategic plan of work focused on downtown revitalization, and we are proud to recognize the success stories that our programs accomplished over the past year.”
In 2021, Mississippi Main Street’s Designated Communities generated 193 net new businesses, 49 business expansions to existing businesses, 603 net new jobs, 58 building rehabilitations and 241 downtown residential units. In addition, 95 public improvement projects were completed as well as 14 new construction projects in downtown business districts. More than $186 million was invested by the public and private sectors in 2021, and more than 28,452 volunteer hours were recorded.