Be a Tourist in Your Own Community - Part IV
Over the past few months the Hancock County Tourism Bureau has been highlighting our communities and some of the unique activities for visitors and also locals. This month we feature Hancock County.
Hancock County is approximately 553 square miles (not including Stennis Space Center). The county line runs from Bayou Cadet to the Bay St. Louis Bridge up to Pearl River County line to the Louisiana state line.
It’s home to the cities of Bay St. Louis (the county seat), Diamondhead and Waveland, as well as the communities of Kiln, Pearlington, Clermont Harbor, Lakeshore and Napoleon.
Stennis Space Center
Stennis Space Center (SSC) facility covers 13,800 acres with an acoustical buffer zone of over 124,000 acres. It’s a unique scientific, governmental and corporate “city,” home to more than 40 organizations relating to the aerospace industry - with NASA being the largest. The Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) alone employees more than 1,000 civilian, military and contract personnel researching marine geosciences, oceanography and underwater acoustics.
Establishment of SSC began in 1961 when NASA needed a place to test the Apollo rocket engines that were used in the race to the moon. More than 700 families were relocated in order to give the facility an enormous 125,000 acre acoustical buffer. Fabled rocket scientist Wernher von Braun often quipped "I don't know yet what method we will use to get to the Moon, but I do know that we have to go through Mississippi to get there!"
Today, Stennis Space Center is testing the RS-26 rocket engines that will help power manned missions to Mars and beyond.
INFINITY Science Center
At the INFINITY Science Center, one can explore earth, space and oceans. This muli-million-dollar science/visitor center thrills visitors with exhibits that range from a surrealistic gigantic Saturn rocket booster outside the building to an Immersion theatre that lets visitors experience that thrill of space travel.
On the grounds of INFINITY the 1,400 feet of Biome Boardwalk; this manmade boardwalk leads through the Stennis acoustic buffer zone. According to the INFINITY website:
Guests can now meander their way along our 1,400 feet of Biome Boardwalk to explore four diverse habitats found in this region - Bayhead Swamps, Lowland Pines, Pitcher Plant bogs and an Upland Savannah. Interpretive signage educates visitors on the flora and fauna found in and around the boardwalk, including otters, Great Blue Herons, a variety of snakes, carnivorous plants, and even alligators! Two observation decks offer ideal wildlife viewing opportunities, or simply a place to relax and take in nature.
Visitors can also catch the Tram Tours (6-mile) along the Possum Walk Trail. The Possum Walk Trail (part of the 100-mile Heritage Trail) is a trail that marks the history of the predominately African-American Possum Walk community and other towns that existed in the area before the establishment of SSC.
For more information, go to the INFINITY website.
The Hancock County Fair
The 2016 Hancock County Fair harkens back to a time when families gathered from across the county once a year for a chance to experience sights, rides, food and games. While the world has changed, the thrill of the fair has not.
The Hancock County Fair puts a spin on the food offerings by showcasing local restaurants, who serve up favorite dishes. Traditional fair food – funnel cakes, candy apples, and cotton candy – will be available too.
Games on the fair midway let folks test their skills and strength, while amusement rides promise to thrill both kids and adults – if they dare. Livestock exhibits give city folk a chance to gander at cows, pigs and exotic chickens, while an authentic rodeo keeps excitement high.
Live music this year by headliners Joe Diffie and John Anderson, includes a sizzling line-up with Category 6, Trent Ladner and Ross Grisham.
For more information on this event go to the fair website.
For more information on these locations come to the Hancock Visitors Center at 1928 Depot Way, Bay St. Louis or visit the website.
How many of these activities have you experienced in your community?