Horsin’ Around

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Off the Natchez Trace Parkway, near the Witch Dance Trail in the Tombigbee Forest sits Stinkin’ Jims Horse Park and Campground. The 86 acre property includes spots for primitive camping, eight fully-furnished cabins, bunkhouses and RV camper hook-ups. Approximately 20 miles of horse trails weave through the nearby woods and a rustic pavilion is available for events.

Since Tommy and LeAn Barnett purchased the property in 2015, they have revamped the campgound in hopes of making Houston, Miss., a camping destination. Campers and horse riders are coming for the trails and staying for the community.

“We want to bring things to Houston to help the economy,” Sims said. “When we have an organized ride with 200 to 300 people, it is impacting the community here.”

Stinkin’ Jim’s is known for its scenic views, accommodations for horses and proximity to the Natchez Trace; Manager Melisha Sims is determined to create a new claim to fame for the campground with its Southern hospitality. With help from Joanne Doss, she has renovated cabins and meeting places, cleaned up the grounds and put more events on the books. Organized trail rides and comfortable lodging is bringing people in from all over the country. Recently, they hosted a group from Ireland that stayed at Stinkin’ Jims for a few days on their way to Nashville for the solar eclipse.

The private cabins sit on their own secluded lots with horse stalls. They are outfitted with antique furniture, heirloom quilts and sitting porches. The bunk houses are ideal for groups.

“We meet people when they’re traveling the Trace and keep up with them as they ride. Meeting the people has been so interesting,” Sims said. “Just knowing we are providing a place where people can have fun, and youth can have something to do. That makes it worth it.”

Sims’ goal is for Stinkin’ Jims to be a place where Mississippians and travelers alike can have old-fashioned fun at a premier equestrian retreat. It isn’t just for horse riders, though; they host rodeos, dances with live music, potlucks and holiday events.

The rustic pavilion is the backdrop for it all. The old barn features eclectic furnishings mounted on the walls and retrofitted antique windows. It can be rented for weddings, birthdays and reunions on free weekends. Catering and florist services are available.

The next event on the calendar is the Halloween Weekend, which will start on October 27 and last all weekend. Stinkin’ Jims is capitalizing on its proximity to the Witch Dance Trail, dubbed one of the most haunted places in the state. The event will provide activities for children and campers—apple bobbing, a forest scavenger hunt, a costume contest, trick-or-treating and a hayride. The Witches of Alabama, a group of women who perform spooky skits, will make a special appearance. Similar events will are held for other holidays, like Thanksgiving, their annual New Year’s Eve blow-out and even Mardi Gras.

“We are having so much fun, but we aren’t done yet,” Sims said.

Future plans for Stinkin’ Jim’s includes paving the roads to host car shows, renovating the big green barn to host indoor weddings with heating and cooling and the addition of an arena. For now, they are content to have groups coming back, weekend after weekend, to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones.

As for the memorable name, the famous Jim was a once-young boy who lived in a house on the grounds before it turned campsite. He was rumored to be mischievous and rowdy, much like many of the characters the campground attracts today. He has since passed, but not before visiting the property and learning that it had been named for him by the original owners.

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