A Stately Day in the Magnolia State

Lazy Magnolia Brewery, by Christina Perez

During the final day of the Southern Legislative Conference, our last tour was to the Lazy Magnolia Brewery, located in Kiln, Mississippi. The tour started with a delicious lunch and Christina (the only 21-year-old ambassador) got a chance to sample the hard ice tea. Before the tour guide began to lead us, we had a few minutes to play some pool.

Southern Legislative Conference, Kiln MS, Lazy Magnolia Brewery, SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors

Once again, Makayla and Ryan, the masters of all games, demonstrated their astounding prowess.

Everyone finished eating their food, meanwhile, the owner of the brewery, Mark Henderson, began by telling his story. Lazy Magnolia was an idea he had after getting a beer-making kit for Christmas one year.

Southern Legislative Conference, Kiln MS, Lazy Magnolia Brewery, SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors

His wife, Leslie, helped make his dreams a reality, and that led to him providing us with a tour today!

There was a large room which contained the fermenting tanks.

Southern Legislative Conference, Kiln MS, Lazy Magnolia Brewery, SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors

A few of the workers were preparing to run the line, then box, and ship the beer. Mark Henderson explained all the moving parts which allowed us to understand the process of beer making without the kit. Another of the more interesting artifacts in the brewery, was the recreation of Amelia Earhart’s plane that hung from the roof.

Southern Legislative Conference, Kiln MS, Lazy Magnolia Brewery, SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors

The tour ended with Al Saucier telling us stories about his book, The Broke Spoke Moonshine Book. Inside the book are many facts about moonshine. For example, the story of the first moonshine high-speed race car. He shared many of his stories that inspired him to become an author. We headed to the bus and it felt bittersweet knowing this was our last tour for the SLC, but the state dinner was next and we couldn’t wait to represent the best state in the United States.

“Meet Me at The Crossroads” State Dinner, by Makayla Mason

The final night of the Southern Legislative Conference began with a cocktail hour.

Southern Legislative Conference, State Dinner, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassador, SHSU

We mingled with different legislators and had the opportunity to take a picture with Speaker Gunn of the Mississippi House of Representatives.

Southern Legislative Conference, State Dinner, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassador, SHSU, Speaker Phillip Gunn

He informed us that he was originally a Texas man and had graduated from Baylor University in Waco.

While we mingled, we were informed that we would have the honor of representing Texas during the Parade of Flags. A few minutes before the dinner began, we met with the other representatives of the states and lined up in the order in which we joined the Union. This meant we were in the 13th position out of the 15 states that were represented.   As we marched in to “Deep in The Heart of Texas” with our flag flying high, we couldn’t help but feel our Texas pride shine through us.

We made our way to the tables. Makayla and Beatriz sat with Oklahoma Representatives, while Christina and Ryan were seated with Mississippi Representatives. After a short introduction, presentations, and invocation, Speaker Gunn invited us to enjoy our dinner. We enjoyed a fresh salad with tangy and sweet Heirloom Tomatoes and Mississippi Watermelon. For our main course, we had Filet Mignon, Spicy Garlic Gulf Shrimp, Mississippi Grits, and Vegetables. Throughout the dinner, we were entertained by Pianist Bruce Levingston…

Southern Legislative Conference, State Dinner, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassador, SHSU, Pianist Bruce Levingston

…who was praised by the New York Times for his “mastery of color and nuance.”  We were honored, because he actually gave a shout out to us for being from Texas before he played his songs.

Also on hand was American Idol runner-up La’Porsha Renae…

La'Porsha Renae, SHSU, LEAP Center, Southern Legislative Conference

…who certainly knew how to fill out a camera frame, and to belt out a tune.

An interesting dinner conversation quickly led our way to dessert where we enjoyed Mississippi Mud Pave.

While we walked away from the night, we realized how special and bitter- sweet the conclusion of the conference was. As the majority of the LEAP Ambassadors are graduating in the coming academic year and Ryan leaves for the University of Arkansas, the relation of finality hit a little too hard.  The blow was softened, however, by a nice discussion with Levingston…

Southern Legislative Conference, State Dinner, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassador, SHSU, Bruce Levingston

…and a nice goodbye to some newly-made friends.

Before the night ended, the LEAP Ambassadors threw a surprise party for Stephanie, who always goes above and beyond for every single one of us. We decided to get her a Mississippi themed cake to represent the great time we had at Biloxi, Mississippi as well as provide her with a memory she would never forget.

Everyone had a great time at the Southern Legislative Conference and it was sad that we had to go back to Texas the next day.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to news stories, having contributed more than 50 pieces in the past year. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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