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Opening Ceremony Moves to May 31, 2019

State Games Announces Opening Ceremony Move

Having grown to nearly 6,000 participating athletes since it began 28 years ago, the State Games of Mississippi is moving its spectacular Opening Ceremony to May 31, 2019.

The change in date is a significant move. Since the inception of the games, the Opening Ceremony has always been held mid-June in Meridian in conjunction with the two-day youth soccer tournament, which attracts more than 130 teams, families and friends.

“When we started the games way back in 1991, we only had one weekend of sports and naturally, the Opening Ceremony was on the Friday before everything began,” said Hardy Graham Jr., president of the State Games Board of Directors. “Now we have sporting events in May and June, so it seemed natural to move the Opening Ceremony closer to the beginning of the games.”

The Opening Ceremony move to May 31 also meant rescheduling the popular Youth Soccer Tournament, now set for June 1-2 in Meridian.

“For many families from across Mississippi, the Opening Ceremony and the Youth Soccer Tournament are highlights of the summer. There is nothing so exciting as seeing the teams participate in the Parade of Athletes before they get into competition,” Graham said.

The Olympic-style Opening Ceremony held each year in Meridian is attended by more than 10,000 people and features the Parade of Athletes, the lighting of the State Games cauldron by the Rush Athletes of the Year and is capped off by a breathtaking firework show.

The Youth Soccer Tournament is such a highly anticipated part of the State Games that hotels within a 60-mile radius of Meridian are completely booked.

“We want to remind participants who have already made their reservations in the Meridian area to call their hotel and change the dates to May 31, June 1 and 2,” Graham said. “Area hotels have been informed of the change of date and are ready to move the reservations.”

With nearly 6,000 athletes competing, the State Games of Mississippi is the premier amateur sporting even in Mississippi. Last year the games featured 42 sports held throughout the state.

The State Games of Mississippi keeps its entry fees low primarily through the generous donations of sponsors, including Founding Gold Sponsors: Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Rush Hospital; and Gold Sponsors: BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians/Pearl River Resort, Meridian-Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau/Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, Paul & Sherry Broadhead Foundation, Structural Steel, WTOK-TV, The Meridian Star and WMDN/WGBC-TV (The Meridian Family of Stations).

For more information on the Games, call 800-482-0205 or visit the State Games of Mississippi website at