A statewide celebration of Mississippi’s 200th birthday will kick off in Columbus in early October.
The Trotter Convention Center will host a display of the state’s 1817 constitution and a rare 20-star United States flag. Mississippi became the 20th state in the union on Dec. 10, 1817.
The two artifacts, which are currently on display at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, will begin a tour of nine cities across Mississippi. The tour begins with a stop in Columbus on Oct. 2-3, and will conclude in April in Winona. The exhibit will also travel to New Albany, Olive Branch, Natchez, Pascagoula, Columbia, Greenwood and Amory.
Visit Columbus CEO Nancy Carpenter said she’s excited to see the display coming to Columbus and noted that it was fitting, since the city once served as the state capital. Columbus served as a temporary capital during the Civil War when Union soldiers occupied Jackson, according to the Mississippi Historical Society.
The Trotter will be open to the public 3-5 p.m. on Oct. 2 and 1-5 p.m. on Oct. 3. The flag and constitution will be displayed in the Trotter’s main level. Carpenter said refreshments will be served both days.
On Oct. 2, the display will coincide with special remarks from former U.S. Representative J.C. Watts (R-Oklahoma).
“It’s such an honor for Columbus, and I really hope that everybody will take advantage of this opportunity to come and view these important artifacts,” Carpenter said. “We’re honored not only that Columbus has been chosen just to receive the exhibit but for it to begin its tour of the state in Columbus.”
Area schools will bring students to see the flag and constitution on Oct. 4, Carpenter said. She said that more than 1,000 students were scheduled to visit the Trotter Center as of Monday afternoon, and that total could rise to around 1,500 by the time the exhibit arrives.
“We are delighted that so many Mississippians will be able to view the flag and constitution as they travel to Columbus and then across the state,” said Katie Blount, director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. “It is only through partnerships with local organizations like Visit Columbus that we are able to commemorate two hundred years of statehood in such a fashion.”
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.