JACKSON – Film festivals, theatrical performances and historical reenactments will mark Mississippi’s bicentennial in communities across the state, legislative leadership announced today. Lawmakers opened the first day of the legislative session with a reception celebrating the 200th year of statehood.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn hosted the reception to highlight community events, many of which are supported by a grant program created last year by the Legislature. Mississippi became the nation’s 20th state on Dec. 10, 1817.

“Bicentennial celebrations are an opportunity to showcase our small towns and their cultural contributions to visitors from around the world,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “Our state is home to sports giants, literary legends and never-before-achieved scientific breakthroughs. We need to stop apologizing and start bragging about Mississippi’s many great accomplishments.”

The Legislature set aside $500,000 for communities to recognize the bicentennial. Grants of up to $10,000 are available from the Mississippi Humanities Council in partnership with Visit Mississippi, the tourism division of the Mississippi Development Authority.

“As a native Mississippian, whose family goes back at least four generations in the State, being able to take part in and celebrate Mississippi’s 200th anniversary is a real honor,” Speaker Gunn said. “I have chosen to live here and raise my family here. We, as Mississippians, are so proud of our state, and these events showcase that pride.”

Several events are planned, including:

· A staged reenactment of French explorer Pierre LeMoyne Sieur d’Iberville’s landing the 1699 in D’Iberville;

· A three-day literary and cinema festival in Natchez showing the state’s history and culture;

· Educational program through the Mississippi Heritage Trust spotlighting historic sites in the state;

· A South Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration at Centennial Plaza in Gulfport, featuring, video, music, art, military exhibits and other cultural highlights.

Communities may submit applications for the grant program now through Nov. 1, 2017, or until grant funds are expended. Eligible programs must relate to Mississippi history, contemporary culture and the celebration of the state’s bicentennial. Categories include, but are not limited to, People and Story, History and Culture, Music and Food, Industry and Entrepreneurship and Outdoors and Recreation.

For more information, including grant guidelines and how to apply, please visit

To follow the latest news on bicentennial celebrations or to submit a related event, visit