Tag Archive for: union county library

NEMiss.News Main Street's Trick or Treat Trail


In Downtown New Albany

Halloween got an early start in New Albany yesterday evening. While Halloween (a contraction of “All Hallows Eve”) isn’t really until Monday, October 31st, more than a thousand children and adults kicked it off early.

NEMiss.News Brady Shettles controls traffic

NAFD’s Brady Shettles demonstrates his artistic traffic control moves.


The Thursday evening party stretched from New Albany City Hall all the way south along the Tanglefoot Trail to the Winston County Library. “Trick or Treat Trail” is sponsored by New Albany Main Street and its Community Partners.

NEMiss.News Dorothy & Toto

Dorothy & Toto have special admirers.

Children and a good many adults dressed up in a variety of costumes and enjoyed “Trick or Treating” downtown and along the trail.

The New Albany Fire Department (NAFD) joined the festivities. Almost every parking space in and near downtown was occupied, some more than once as people came and went. Motor vehicle traffic at Bankhead Street and Railroad Avenue was heavy, so NAFD Fireman Brady Shettles pitched in and directed traffic at the intersection.

NEMiss.News The Mad Hatter Whiteside

The Trick or Treat trail was Mad Hatter Whiteside’s cup of tea.

Fire Chief Mark Whiteside wore a stylish “Mad Hatter” costume, complete with wig and appropriate theatrical make-up. Children enjoyed having their photograph taken with the Chief.


At the Union County Heritage Museum

A few blocks north of downtown, and interpretative art installation, “Articulating Yoknapatawpha: an Exhibit of Kinetic Art,2” opened at the Union County Heritage Museum. Architect Spence Kellum’s exhibit of mobiles drew several dozen art lovers for the reception and costume party. Visitors were encouraged to attend the opening dressed as a favorite literary character.

NEMiss.News Blood Money

“Blood Money” by Spence Kellum represents William Faulkner’s manual typewriter and is designed for display in the Faulkner Garden.

The museum’s Stephen Bennett got into both the literary and the Halloween spirit for the Kellum exhibit opening. Bennett wore a ghost costume, which referenced the “ghosts” in William Faulkner’s short story, A Rose for Emily.

There were, of course, no actual ghosts in Faulkner’s story, but many consider it a “Gothic horror story.” Bennett’s “ghost” certainly added a bit of haunting humor to the occasion.

NEMiss.News Stephen Bennett's ghost

Stephen Bennett as a Faulkner story “ghost” in A Rose for Emily.

The museum had further celebrated Kellum’s exhibit with a day of free classes on the making of mobiles.

A trip to the Union County Heritage Museum in the next two days will reward visitors with two excellent exhibits. Bill Steber’s ‘Spirit in the Soil: Objects and Evocations of the Mississippi Blues’ will also be hanging through November.

More about the Bill Steber Exhibit.

NEMiss.News Spoke 'N Word Weekend


06/13/22 – New Albany’s Main Street is excited to announce its June festival, Spoke ‘N Word Weekend. The Best Southern Small Town will have two days of community fun. This is the third year for Spoke ‘N Word which includes a bicycle ride, storytelling activities, and free live music, and is a project that is partially funded by a grant through Visit Mississippi.

Thursday, June 23rd will be an evening for locals and visitors to Unwine’d and SHOP the BLOCK in historic downtown New Albany. From 5-8pm W. Bankhead Street will be closed from The Tanglefoot Plaza to Barkley Travel for safe pedestrian travel. This is an opportunity to shop local and give local as over 25 Main Street retailers welcome shoppers in for after hours shopping. Each of these store owners will donate 10% of all sales to The Boys and Girls Club of New Albany. There will be food trucks, live music from Monty J & Element, and children’s games and storytelling at Cooper Park. Shoppers interested in participating in sampling sips of wine while enjoying after hours shopping can do so by purchasing a ticket on newalbanymainstreet.com or calling the Main Street office 662-534-3438.

“Our Boys and Girls Club offers incredible leadership, career development, educational, and recreational opportunities to the children in our community, after school and throughout the summer”, said Main Street staffer Tracy Vainisi, adding, “Donations offer the club extra support and we are hoping to rally the community to help them by shopping from 5-8pm on Thursday the 23rd.”

Saturday June 25th starts at 7:30am with Pedaling for Hope bicycle ride, an awareness and fundraising event for Main Street and Tupelo’s Regional Rehab Center. Anyone wishing to sign up can go to raceroster.com and search Pedaling for Hope on the Tanglefoot Trail. A kids fun ride is included as well as an afterparty with music from Cherry Creek and lunch from El Agave Mexican Grill, Game Tyme, and Manning’s BBQ, and storytelling activities at the Union County Library.

Later that afternoon, at 4pm, The Union County Courthouse will be host to the annual Sam Mosley Freedom Fest. Local bands The Dukes, Inspirational Hour with the Johnsons, Senseless, and Southern Soul and Company will share their stories through music and set the mood for an evening of community fun. Food trucks, family activities, and fireworks will round out the festive vibe.

For more information about Unwine’d and Shop the Block, Pedaling for Hope, or Sam Mosley Freedom Fest contact Tracy at visitnewalbany@gmail.com or Billye Jean at 662-534-3438 with questions.

Full size map as printable PDF: Unwine’d

The Union County Library offered an unusual way to beat the heat and humidity Saturday: a foam party.

A Madison, Miss.-based company, Bubble Foam Pop, came to the library with equipment to produce large amounts of white foam.

The foam is non-staining, hypoallergenic, biodegradable and non-toxic, but not particularly tasty, and evaporates quickly once a person gets it on himself or herself.

Young library visitors were hesitant to enter the foam at first, but quickly began playing in it. Before long, adults joined in as well.

The foam maker, Dorian LaChance, visits libraries, schools and special events throughout the Southeast with the foam and also presenting magic shows, but this was his first visit here.

Judging by the crowd response, he likely will be invited back.


Anyone who has used the Tanglefoot Trail or visited the Union County Library recently likely could not help but notice the work going on around the trail welcome center.

Some of the area with native plants is being replaced by an expansion of the terrace area, along with included landscaping.

Some of the plants will remain but curbs and steps have been added to improve appearance of the area.

The larger terrace area is actually a part of the original design for the welcome center.

The area has been extensively for library activities as well as trail-related functions.


Terry Vanderventer, “The Snake Dude,” has spent the past 45 years trying to overcome generations of myths and misinformation about reptiles.

A sometime visitor to the Union County Library over the years, he was back Saturday to share his love of snakes with an overflow crowd of kids and parents at the library.

Vaderventer says he usually tries to localize his program, talking about snakes native to the area, or at least region.

“Mississippi has 56 types of snakes,” he told the group. “Only six are venomous.”

No snakes are aggressive here, he said, and even snakes such as rattlesnakes contribute to the environment (they eat other snakes and rodents, for instance).

Rather than being slimy, snakes are dry and cool to the touch. If frightened, some do omit an odor to try to repel predators, but that does not usually happen otherwise.

“No snakes are aggressive,” he emphasized.

Most will not react at all if you walk by them and the idea of a snake chasing someone is a myth. Vanderventer said tales are often handed down of Grandpa or somebody being chased by a snake, but blue racers do not chase people and hoop snakes definitely do not turn into a hoop shape and roll after someone.

“Because a snake is coming toward you does not mean it is chasing you,” he said. “The snake is most likely looking for someplace safe, like a hole, and you may be between the snake and the hole.”

Snakes do not smell in the usual sense, but “catch” aromas out of the air with their forked tongues.

Snakes first shed their skins when they are a week old and then about four times a year after that.

Snake eggs, unlike chicken eggs, are “soft and squeezy,” he said. A baby snake is in the shell two months and as the snake grows, the egg gets bigger.

Because the snake has no other way to get out of the shell, snakes are born with one long, sharp tooth called an egg tooth. They use it to break a hole in the shell and eventually the tooth falls out.

Some snakes do bite when cornered or attacked. “There are 150 venomous bites a year,” in Mississippi, he said. “There have been zero deaths in the past 75 years.”

And, he added, most bites come when someone is trying to kill the snake, and alcohol is involved in 50 percent of bites.

Vanderventer’s primary message is to simply respect snakes, and do not attack them.

“With any snake, take two steps back and no Mississippi snake can hurt you,” he said.

Vanderventer discovered his passion for snakes when he was four years old, and he credited the library for helping with that. He has travelled the world, even catching anacondas in the Amazon, but said the library can provide a good substitute for the actual travel.

Vanderventer introduced his audience to several of his snakes during the program.

First was Bob the corn snake, who is good at catching rodents and can be seen in this area.

Next came a king snake.

“They live in the barn and each rats and mice and stuff and they like turtle eggs,” he said. “Mostly, they eat other snakes (although cotton mouths eat more snakes than they do). They coil around them and squeeze them.”

“You should thank him for protecting your neighborhood,” he said.

Another snake he displayed that should be familiar to many area residents was the gray rat snake. Most people around here would probably call it a chicken snake for its love of chicken eggs.

Next was a blue racer.

Despite the name “racer,” he said it, or other snakes, have a top speed of four miles per hour. “They have no feet,” he said, obviously. And he reiterated that “snakes never chase people.”

Snakes have several protection measures, he said.

First, nearly all have some sort of camouflage appearance. Some, as noted previously, can produce a bad smell. Then, of course, some rattle.

But TV and movies have given a false image of rattlesnakes. For one thing, a snake that rattles is likely to become a dead snake.

“I have found 2,000 rattlesnakes and only 18 have rattled before I saw them,” he said. Two hundred of those were in Mississippi and only one of those rattled.

“I have never had a snake strike at me,” he said.

The next reptile he showed was a less common hog-nosed snake. “Some people call them puff adders,” he said. That’s because when frightened the snake spreads its neck and rises up. “It will strike but it can’t bite you,” he said. “It will just bump you with its nose.”

And if the hog-nosed snake cannot escape, it will go belly up, twitch, appear to bleed, twitch its tail and, to all appearances, be dead. However, if you go hide behind a tree and watch you will see that the snake is very elaborately faking it.

“You don’t see these snakes any more,” he said. “Fire ants. Fire ants destroy their eggs.”

The last snake he showed was an indigo snake.

Once native to Mississippi, none has been found here since November 1938. That’s because the type of forest they need was cut down in south Mississippi. “Sixteen hundred acres with no roads is required for an indigo snake,” Vanderventer said. His came from an Arizona preserve.

His is about six feet long but they used to grow to about 10 feet he said. Although impressive in size, he said they are gentle and don’t bite.

Vanderventer was named Conservation Educator of the Year, has worked with motion pictures and acted as a guide to the Amazon for several years. He now has the Living Reptile Museum and is the herpetology field associate with the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

The Snake Dude will only be back at the library here one more time. He is retiring next year but has committed to one more summer program in New Albany.

That makes his message more critical, to treat snakes with the respect they deserve rather than fear or aggression.

About 125 bicyclists of all ages participated in Pedaling for Hope early Saturday.

The event is held each year to raise money for the Regional Rehab Center in Tupelo and the New Albany Main Street Association.

The rehab center provides a variety of rehabilitation services to children and adults from areas including Union County. They do so at no cost to patients and insurance is not billed.

Participants were able to choose from three different distance courses: 25, 50 and 100 km.

Upon their return, they were able to enjoy Mexican food and drink at the Tanglefoot Trail welcome center.

A feature at the same time was professional storyteller Anne McKee of Meridian, who told youngsters about the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes who lived in this area and other parts of the state.

The events were part of the three-day FreedomFest celebration organized by the New Albany Community Development Office.

This year’s FreedomFest concluded three days of activities Saturday with music by Southern Soul and Sam Mosley and the Muscle Shoals Horns.

Although the crowd size varied, estimates were 300 at least at a time. People were coming and going throughout the evening.

The kids area drew plenty of participation with its Nerf gun battles and a variety of food trucks usually had lines of attendees waiting to order.

A barbecue contest was held earlier in the day with winners to be announced. In the morning, about 125 people participated in Pedaling for Hope to raise money for the Regional Rehab Center and New Albany Main Street. A storyteller presented a program on Choctaw and Chickasaw nations at the Union County Library.

Friday evening, the Magnolia Civic Center presented scenes from Shakespeare interspersed with music on the Riverview Stage.


New Albany’s three-day FreedomFest began Thursday with a downtown event, follows Friday with Shakespeare and music, and concludes with trail riding, barbecue, more music and fireworks Saturday.

The New Albany Community Development staff has put together the program, designating June 24-26 as the “Spoke ‘n Word” weekend.

“The mission of the Spoke ‘n Word Weekend started as a storytelling and bike riding event,” Director Billye Jean Stroud said. “It has blossomed into a variety of unique activities that occur over the entire weekend.”

Thursday offered a past popular event, Unwine’d & Walk downtown and around New Albany. The adult event combines strolling, shopping and wine tasting.

The Friday event will be something new: “Shakespeare in the Park (Along the River).”

Players will present some of the more familiar snippets of Shakespeare’s work interspersed with music and explanation. It will begin at 7 p.m. on the Riverview Stage in the Park Along the River.

Saturday begins with Pedaling for Hope on the Tanglefoot Trail, a fundraiser for the Regional Rehab Center in Tupelo and New Albany Main Street.

They will have 25-mile, 50-mile, and 100-kilometer options. There will be water and sports drink along the course and a service vehicle will follow behind. After the ride, they will enjoy food, music and door prizes.

For More information call the Regional Rehab Center at 662-842-1891 or New Albany Main Street Association at 662-534-3438. You can register online at raceroster.com.

Also Saturday, the Union County Library will feature professional storyteller Anne McKee at 10 a.m. Afterward, bikes may be checked out free as usual.

There will be a free Kid Zone with children’s activities all day as well.

A sound system will play music throughout the day for those who want to use the park.

An event that is being brought back from several years ago is the Smoke on the Water cook-off. Cooks may enter in the categories of Boston butt, chicken, pork ribs or barbecue sauce. Judging will be on appearance, taste or flavor, tenderness and texture. Entries may be sauced or un-sauced. Cash prizes will be given.

The climax of the weekend will be a concert followed by fireworks.

Live music will begin at 7 p.m. with Southern Soul and Co. comprising native New Albanians and playing soulful hits of the ’60s, ‘70s and ’80s.

Grammy-nominated local musician Sam Mosley with the Mosley and Johnson Band and Muscle Shoals Horns will be the featured act.

Fireworks on the riverbank will conclude the weekend at 10 p.m.

Up-to-date information will be posted on I Love New Albany and New Albany Main Street social media pages. If you have any questions, contact the Community Development and Main Street office by calling 662-534-3438 or emailing visitnewalbany.com.

“These events are designed to bring locals out to enjoy their community and draw visitors from the region for overnight stays,” Stroud said. “Our desire is to see folks from near and far enjoying all that New Albany has to offer.”



7 p.m. – Shakespeare in the Park (Along the River) on the Riverview Stage


8 a.m. – Pedaling for Hope first ride with others following at 30-minute intervals between trailhead and welcome center.

10 a.m. – Storyteller Anne McKee at the Union County Library

Noon – Lunch for Pedaling for Hope riders at trail welcome center and library

4:30 p.m. – Turn-in time for Smoke on the Water barbecuing contest at the Park Along the River

7 p.m. – Southern Soul on the Riverview Stage

8:30 p.m. – Sam Mosley and the Muscle Shoals Horns on the Riverview Stage

10 p.m. – Fireworks on the riverbank in Tallahatchie Trails

All day – Bike check-outs at the library, free Kid Zone at the Park Along the River and music at the Park Along the River

A crowd showed up for the ribbon-cutting at the Tanglefoot Trail Welcome Center and Autism Acceptance walk despite a threat of rain Saturday.

Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud said she was pleased with the attendance, especially considering the weather.

The formal opening, in conjunction with the seasonal opening of the trail itself, comes three years after work on the welcome center began. It is still not open on a regular basis.

In addition to the ribbon-cutting, King Therapies Behavioral Solutions and the New Albany Community Development Office sponsored an autism acceptance walk to help mark the annual autism awareness month. A group of about 75, many of them wearing blue autism awareness shirts and accompanying those with autism, walked down the trail after the ribbon-cutting.

The Union County Library, next to the welcome center, provided coffee and other snacks and had activities available for kids. Lemonade and cookies were offered in the welcome center, where visitors could purchase Tanglefoot Trail T-shirts, which come in two styles.

Saturday was Celebrate Trails Day, started by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in 2013. It is on the fourth Saturday each April and encourages people throughout the country to get outside and enjoy the nation’s trail systems.

Work on the trail began in earnest in 2012 and plans called for welcome centers in New Albany, Pontotoc and Houston. At a then-estimated cost of $350,000 each, funding was not available.

There was still interest in having a welcome center here with several potential locations discussed including using an office just off the trailhead plaza and building one in the library parking lot.

Aldermen finally approved a plan in 2018 but funding was still a problem.

The low bid by Roberts Construction of Ripley was $218,000. However, most of the cost was to come from an MDOC grant originally intended for an access road to the trail pavilion between Camp and the South Central intersection. Aldermen initially rejected the grant for the road but later asked to use it for the welcome center.

The amount was cut to $125,000 – only about half the cost – because of the scope of the project had changed.

Mayor Tim Kent was able to get $40,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission but that would leave the project about $70,000 short. The alternative then was to borrow $70,000 and pay it back using tourism tax money. That’s how the million-dollar tennis complex is being paid for.

The welcome center has essentially been empty and closed the past couple of years, except for some large informational panels on the walls providing information about the history of the railroad and trail.

People are using the sheltered outdoor area often and the exterior restrooms are open during trail hours. However, there is no tourism information inside, other souvenirs for sale or anyone to welcome visitors and tell them about eating, shopping and lodging opportunities, as well as other tourism attractions.

Private citizens are hoping to organize a group to support the welcome center with staffing and raise money to purchase the fixtures needed inside.

New Albany residents will have the opportunity to attend a full day of events Saturday with two ribbon-cuttings, a walk, library program and car show.

Several of the events will be tied to the official season opening of Tanglefoot Trail while the car drive-in will be later in the day.

Hosted on the fourth Saturday of April and started by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in 2013, Celebrate Trails Day is an annual spring celebration of America’s trails. The celebration encourages people throughout the country to get outside and enjoy the nation’s trail systems.

New Albany is home to the northern trailhead of the Tanglefoot Trail, Mississippi’s longest Rails-to-Trails conversion that preserves an abandoned railroad corridor, which was built in 1871. The Tanglefoot Trail is a 43.6-mile-long, 10-foot-wide paved route for bicyclists and pedestrians. In 2019, the trail was inducted into the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Rail-Trail Hall of Fame.

Saturday, April 24, from 9 a.m. – noon, New Albany’s office of Community Development staff and volunteers will be sharing cookies and lemonade at the recently built Welcome Center at the Tanglefoot Trailhead, located next to the Union County Library at 219 King Street. T-shirts will be available for purchase, and anyone with a library card can borrow a bike from the Union County Library. A 9:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting will officially open the Tanglefoot Trail Trailhead for the season.

At 10 a.m., King Therapies Behavioral Solutions, with its new home located just off of the trail, Union County Library, and New Albany Main Street will host an Autism Acceptance Walk. This short, sweet walk will begin at the Trailhead Welcome Center and all are invited. The goal of this collaboration is to celebrate differences and become more inclusive of individuals with autism. Following the walk, the library staff will have crafts and stories for walk participants to enjoy.

Billye Jean Stroud, director of Community Development and Main Street, said, “The Community Development and Main Street board members encourage me and my staff to coordinate family friendly events and this weekend will be a great way to kick off spending time outdoors.”

At 1 p.m., there will be a ribbon-cutting at the New Albany Dog Park located next to the BNA Bank Tennis Complex at 505 Tallahatchie Trail. Families and their socialized dogs are welcome to come for this informal ceremony and group picture.

To close out a busy day, Pharoahs Mississippi Car Club will be set up in the lower library parking lot. Their Cruise-In will begin at 4 p.m. and, weather permitting, will be there until 8 p.m. The car show is free for spectators to attend, and there is a registration fee for people to enter their vehicles in the show. It is not required to be a member of the Pharaohs to put a car in the show, but it is preferable if cars in the show are eligible for an antique tag.

Stroud added, “In addition to great dining and shopping, outdoor spaces, and friendly people there will be lots to do in the Best Southern Small Town on Saturday, April 24, and we hope to see many of our community members and visitors out enjoying!”

For more information about any of the April 24 activities, contact New Albany’s office of Community Development at 662-534-3438 or email visitnewalbany@gmail.com.


Magician Bentley Burns performed at the Jennie Stephens Smith Library this past week for the clients of New Haven Center for Special Needs Adults.

Burns will be back at the library presenting a new performance Saturday, May 1.

New Albany Main Street and The Union County Library are planning an Easter parade and egg hunt as a family fun event for the whole community.

The events will be Saturday, March 27, with the parade lineup at 9 a.m. and a start time of 9:30. The egg hunt will be at 10. The hunt and parade start will be at the Union County Courthouse. The parade theme will be “A Country Easter Parade.”

Organizers are welcoming floats, bicycles, tractors, pageant winners, homecoming courts, horses, wagons, and “whatever else inspires you to welcome spring to the Best Southern Small Town!”

Applications will be taken until Tuesday, March 24, along with a $5 entry fee. Details for parade participants will be shared once the application is complete and $5 fee is paid.

Online applications are available by clicking HERE. Paper applications are available at the Union County Library and Main Street office.

You can pay with cash or check (made out to NA Main Street) at the Main Street office or the library. Or pay online at newalbanymainstreet.com/online-store/Easter-Parade-Fee-p304456977. There is a $1 SQUARE use fee.

Organizers stress that this is a fun, family friendly parade.

Call the library or Main Street for more details if needed.