StarkVegas -- A&M-MSU -- in the eye of Magnolia State's pigskin hurricane
I grew up in Mississippi -- 35 miles from Starkville, 75 miles from Oxford (and a few years behind noted makeup artist Billy B.; his sister and I were in the same class) -- and this weekend’s on-campus games are big. How big? Alabama-Ole Miss and Texas A&M-Mississippi State on the same day (!) -- games which feature four of the top 12 teams in the country -- may be the biggest thing to hit the Magnolia State since Camille in 1969.
Road trippin’ to Starkville is so much more than rolling in on Highway 82. There’s plenty to see and do in Mississippi before you get to Davis Wade Stadium -- like bow at the final resting place of William Faulkner, take in pregame at The Grove in Oxford, try to get your sign on GameDay, say hello to Wright Thompson …
However, it’s StarkVegas in the Road Trip spotlight. One of the three pillars of the Golden Triangle -- Columbus, Starkville and West Point -- the city of Starkville is home to about 24,000 people. The university has more than 20,000 students.
From the north, be sure to make the pilgrimage through Tupelo and pay homage to Elvis Presley’s birthplace at 306 Elvis Presley Dr. The King of Rock and Roll was born in Tupelo on Jan. 8, 1935, in a two-room house built for $180 by his father, grandfather and uncle.
Elvis Presley birthplace
For the drive south, take the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway. (Obey the speed limit; don’t say we didn’t warn you …) The Trace won’t take you directly from Tupelo to Starkville -- you’ll have to jump on Highway 82 outside Eupora -- but it’s a nice respite from the everyday highways and byways.
Fans motoring north should check out the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame at 1152 Lakeland Dr. in Jackson, the state’s capital. As the Hall’s website points out: What other state can boast the leading scorer and receiver in NFL history (Jerry Rice), the leading passer in NFL history (Brett Favre), the second leading rusher (Walter Payton) and the patriarch of the first family of football (Archie Manning)?
Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame
If you’re traveling from the east, stop at the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center at 300 Main St. in Columbus. This is the first home of the acclaimed writer, who penned two Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire. Columbus also is home to Mississippi University for Women -- chartered in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in America -- and among "The W" alums is acclaimed author Eudora Welty.
Tennessee Williams Welcome Center
From the west, there’s no question the Delta Blues Museum is a must-see destination. Located at 1 Blues Alley in Clarksdale, the museum does justice to anyone who has ever wanted to feel the energy of The Crossroads of Highways 61 and 49. Maybe you can figure out where blues legend Robert Johnson is buried:
• in an unmarked grave at the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church near Morgan City;
• in an unmarked grave at the Payne Chapel near Quito;
• under a pecan tree in the cemetery of the Little Zion Church, north of Greenwood.
Delta Blues Museum
Once you're in Starkville there is one place -- not the only place, but the one place -- you must pull up a chair to the grazin' trough: The Little Dooey. (I'm looking at you, Kaylee Hartung.) It's quaint. It's legendary. It's everything you've heard, and more than you can imagine. No matter what, find a parking spot at 100 Fellowship St. and enjoy some of the best barbeque (
try devour the fried ribs) on earth.
Top off your meal with some ice cream from the MAFES Sales Store, a unit of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, at 925 Stone Blvd. in the shadows of Davis Wade Stadium. (While it's also known as the Cheese Store, don't be confused; MAFES' ice cream is top-notch.)
Mama, I’m coming home …