By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
Alysse Thomas is event coordinator for Paper City Development. But she has a hand in other organizations driving activities in Vicksburg.
Thomas provided a February program for the Vicksburg Rotary Club, explaining her many roles in the area. A 2007 Vicksburg High School graduate, she earned her bachelor’s degree in hospitality from Michigan State University, and spent several years in business in Florida. She eventually sold her business and moved back to the area.
Upon her return, she said she drove around town “initially thinking this is the same little town I grew up in.” She then looked more closely and realized it wasn’t the same, that some exciting things were happening.
She eventually joined the Paper City team and has become more and more involved in the community.
Thomas, who describes herself as “wearing multiple hats around town,” provided some information about tentative upcoming events for the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce, the Vicksburg Farmers Market, and Paper City Development.
After several quiet years, the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce is up and running, holding mixers for the members and driving events to attract visitors to downtown Vicksburg. Thomas said the group has really worked to build relationships with the leaders of the Village, which benefits everyone. The Chamber has advocated for the Social District, allowing visitors and patrons to purchase alcoholic beverages at local bars and restaurants and enjoy the revitalized space in downtown, including Oswalt Park. Since the Social District’s inception, the Chamber has advocated for and achieved longer hours and a slightly larger district space. Among other activities, the Chamber planned the Feb. 11 IceBurg Festival, and is pairing with Gilbert and Ivy and the Distant Whistle for book club meetings.
Thomas also has helped coordinate events for the Vicksburg Farmers Market. Last year’s market event in downtown Vicksburg was well-attended and well-received. Thomas said residents can look forward to once-a-month downtown farmers market events in 2023.
Planning events for Paper City is Thomas’ “day job,” and one that keeps her busy. She helps host events for the Prairie Ronde Residency artists. While these events have initially been limited in size, that will change. Thomas helps with the live music events as well as the visual art shows and open houses.
The community can look forward to another Mill Family Reunion in 2023. Thomas said, “these events have been very popular and continue to grow.” The tours are meaningful for families and “often very emotional.” She is also involved with the nature walks for children and youth. She explained that the inspiration for the programming was her own enjoyment of the Mill’s 80 acres. “It is just beautiful and I just thought kids need to see this.” The Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center has helped plan and staff activities for children, and that involvement will continue. The Mill’s partnership with area schools is another area Thomas supports.
Thomas fielded questions from the audience, then added, “Vicksburg is a little village that will. And we are!”
Alysse Thomas, event coordinator, wears many hats
By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe