Event was a success, Cleveland reaps benefits and accolades
By Jack Criss
The Bolivar Bullet
The much-anticipated, four-day Music Tourism Conference brought approximately 200 people to Cleveland last week, according to event chairs Sean Johnson, Tricia Walker, and Becky Nowell, and was a unqualified success. Thirteen different countries and 14 states were represented at the Conference for several presentations, Delta-area tours and panel discussions related to music tourism. The Conference goes around the world every year and Cleveland was fortunate to host the event in 2023.
“Greenville native and country music star Steve Azar served as the moderator on Wednesday, the first full day of the conference,” said Nowell. “And, Tricia Walker served as the moderator on Thursday. Each of these moderators performed a Mississippi song for the delegates. And, the delegates were treated to southern hospitality and meals throughout their time here.”
Live music performances were held at the opening reception on Tuesday night, and a reception was held at Dockery Farms on Wednesday night. The closing reception was held Thursday night at Grammy Museum MS.
“The highlight performance was Mississippi’s own country music trio, Chapel Hart, and their performance on the lawn of the Museum for the closing reception,” said Nowell. “Their show was open to the public and was attended by over 1000 people. It was a great atmosphere with people on the lawn and the porch of the museum with plenty of food trucks on-site. And, Chapel Hart put on an incredible show.”
A new Country Music Trail Marker that will be permanently located at Grammy Museum was unveiled at the closing ceremony with Craig Ray of Visit MS and Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons doing the honors.
“This conference took a lot of planning and support from many people in the Cleveland community and was a collaborative effort by them all,” said Nowell. “This event would not have been possible without the hosts, partners, and sponsors.”
The event was hosted by Visit MS, City of Cleveland, Visit Cleveland, Craig Ray, (Director of Visit MS), Mayor Billy Nowell, and the Board of Alderman.
“We also want to thank our Partners for this convention,” said Nowell. “Delta State University, Deep Roots, Big Front Porch Productions, Grammy Museum Mississippi, B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, Dockery Farms, Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, and Mississippi Delta Tourism Association. There were also our great sponsors for this convention: Cannon Motors, Clark Beverage Group, Visit Clarksdale, Delta Magazine, Nehi Bottling Company, Mitchell Distributing, and Whole Cellars Package Store. And, we can’t forget the over 60 volunteers that also helped make the event possible.”
Nowell went on to thank Delta State University for partnering on this event to provide professional technical support, including sound, videography and photography, as well as the Cleveland Police Department and Delta State University Police Department partnering to provide security for the event at Grammy Museum.
“It was a great week, a great event,” said fellow chair and Director of Tourism, Sean Johnson. “It was also smooth sailing due to the work of the team here in Cleveland we had on the ground. I heard repeatedly from many of the attendees that it was, by far, the best of these music conferences they had ever been to. We had people here from Austria, Iceland, Spain, South America–literally all over the world and the entire United States. The economic impact was tremendous for Cleveland as the host city but, just as importantly, the great music and activities put this city in an incredibly positive light. It will also serve as a magnet for other, similar type events to be held here in the future.”