If anyone knows how to put on a festival, it’s Ridgeland. Whether it’s food, fitness, art or music, the city, known for its assortment of amenities, offers something for everyone.
“Events in Ridgeland run the gamut,” said Mary Straton Smith, director of communication at the Ridgeland Tourism Commission. “It’s great to get people out and about enjoying fine art and fine food and wine, but we also like the idea of people enjoying the beautiful outdoor elements in Ridgeland, like our multi-purpose trails, the Ross Barnett Reservoir and the Natchez Trace Parkway.”
While the city plays host to a variety of events year- round, it is perhaps most known for its “Art, Wine and Wheels” weekend. The signature festival combines the Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival with the Santé Wine Festival, as well as the Ridgeland “OBO” Tandem Rally all in one jam-packed weekend.
These events have come together to create one unique national and international weekend in the city of Ridgeland,” said Patty Dunn, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Mississippi Chapter. “Winemakers travel here from across the globe, attracting Mississippians and others from around the region to spend the weekend in Ridgeland and experience fine art and fine wine.”
Patty says that since 2006, Santé South has quadrupled in attendance, as well as in its proceeds, which benefit the Alzheimer’s Association Mississippi Chapter. This will be Santé South’s third year to call Ridgeland home.
“Santé South affords a rare opportunity for the wine enthusiast to speak directly with the winemaker,” said Patty. “The event features more than 120 exceptional wines and fine food samplings from more than 20 top Mississippi restaurants.”
At the same time wine connoisseurs are descending on the Renaissance at Colony Park, where Santé South takes place, they can also pour over rows and rows of some of America’s finest artwork. Artists from all over the country show off their paintings, photography, prints, sculptures, jewelry and more, at the Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival.
And the trifecta wouldn’t be complete without the newly included Ridgeland “OBO” Tandem Rally. “OBO” stands for “One Behind the Other.” The weekend is all about discovering Ridgeland and all that it has to offer by promoting the area’s top cycling routes, specifically the Natchez Trace Parkway. The “Art, Wine and Wheels” Weekend takes place April 2-3, 2016.
Events like these not only provide a fun environment for event-goers, they generate a great deal of income for the city. According to the Tourism Commission, Ridgeland hotels, restaurants and retail outlets all see a significant boost in sales and traffic during events. “It’s great to get locals and visitors alike into our businesses, not only to contribute to the local economy, but to see for themselves all that Ridgeland has to offer,” said Mary.
So what’s next on the agenda for Ridgeland tourism? The Commission says they are currently focusing on growing what they already have in place.
“Ridgeland has a lot of momentum these days and is evolving in its offerings,” said Mary. “We’re always looking for ways to improve and grow the events we currently have on our calendar to make them even more appealing.”
If you can’t make it to the “Art, Wine and Wheels” weekend, no need to fret; there are plenty of opportunities to experience all the greatness Ridgeland has to offer. Music fans should check out the Soulshine Blues and Groove Festival or the Township Jazz Festival or both. Athletes can take part in the Natchez Trace Century Ride or the Heatwave Classic Triathlon. And those with a taste for culture can observe or roll up their sleeves and participate in the Dragon Boat Regatta or cruise by the EuroFest Auto and Motorcycle Show. And the list goes on.
To stay up-to-date with events happening all year- round, check out visitridgeland.com. Plus you never know when a brand new event could be in the works. “Community and economic developers believe in our city and its potential to keep growing and expanding what we have to offer,” said Mary. “We will continue our tourism marketing and promotions efforts to keep attracting more and more visitors to Ridgeland!”