The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

‘It always feels alive’: Starkville wins Best Small Town in the South

Kate Myers

Starkville has been named the 2024 Best Small Town in the South by USA Today.

The award was given after a four-week voting process that required a nomination from a panel of travel writers and editors from USA Today. Starkville went up against 20 towns with a population of less than 25,000. 

Paige Hunt, the director of tourism at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, said she was delighted that Starkville was given this accolade.

“We are thrilled that USA Today and its readers are getting to know what we have always known—that Starkville is the best town in the South,” Hunt said. “We are thrilled with this recognition and we look forward to welcoming visitors so they can experience our vibrant, thriving destination for themselves.”

Mississippi State University’s own Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library was recognized in the listing, as USA Today called it a “treasure trove of artifacts and correspondence.” Anne Marshall, the executive director of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, said she was elated to have the library recognized as an asset to the community.

“We’re also really excited that the library got to be a part of the criteria that USA Today was looking at,” Marshall said. “…We just get a lot of community support for this place, and I think it’s just a real point of pride.”

Kate Myers

Residents Jackie and Tom Simpson moved to Starkville from Belize at the beginning of the year. When they were searching for towns after returning to the United States, they noticed that their choices were limited.

“We literally looked through probably a hundred small towns all in the Southeast of the U.S.,” Jackie said. “So many of them were off the list right away because so many of their shops had closed down. They were just depressed because to the lockdown.”

When they found Starkville, the Simpsons said they were surprised about how lively the town was despite not being near a major interstate or airport.

“So, here, you have Starkville that is very vibrant because of the college,” Jackie Simpson said. “And it’s very nice just because of nice people and good food.”

Molee Weatherly, a Starkville native, said that she was not surprised when Starkville finally won Best Small Town in the South.

“It always feels alive,” Weatherly said. “Like something’s going on here. There’s just so much activity. A lot of small towns in Mississippi always feel kind of depressed. It doesn’t feel that way here. You know, it’s the energy about the town. It’s always changing…You have different people coming from out of town coming in so every weekend for sports, we have something so special. There’s always a different energy and they’re so happy to be here. So that happiness is contagious.”

About the Contributor
Kate Myers
Kate Myers, News Editor
Kate Myers is a freshman communication major. She currently serves as the News Editor. [email protected]
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