Belzoni, MS


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Belzoni (pronounced Bell-zone-uh) is a city in Humphreys County, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta region, on the Yazoo River. The population was 2,663 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Humphreys County. It was named for the 19th century Italian archaeologist/explorer Giovanni Battista Belzoni.
The area was named Farm-Raised Catfish Capital of the World in 1976 by then Governor Cliff Finch, since it produces more farm-raised catfish than any other U.S. county. 40,000 acres (160 km2) of the county are underwater, used to grow catfish. About 60% of U.S. farm-raised catfish are grown within a 65-mile (100-km) radius of Belzoni. The title "Catfish Capital" is also claimed by Savannah, Tennessee and Des Allemands, Louisiana. Belzoni is known for the World Catfish Festival held every April.
The area that eventually became Belzoni was originally known as "Greasy Row" because of saloons along the bank of the Yazoo River. In 1895, a charter was granted for the village of Belzoni, although the area had been settled for several decades previously. Steve Castleman, who secured the charter, became the first mayor of Belzoni. When Humphreys County was formed in 1918, Belzoni was selected county seat.