State bowling museum opens

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Even Barbie was a bowler in her heyday.

But she&8217;s only one of hundreds of women bowlers featured in the just-opened Mississippi Women&8217;s State Bowling Association&8217;s museum at Rivergate Bowl.

About a year and a half ago MWBA board members started brainstorming ideas for their closets full of photo albums, trophies and memorabilia. Because Anne Hash, a board member, owned her own alley in Natchez, she became an obvious solution.

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&8220;It has evolved into this,&8221; Hash said at Friday&8217;s ribbon cutting ceremonies for the museum. &8220;Personal awards, flags, things they made and donated, it came from all over the state.&8221;

Hash and her husband Jess started work on the museum behind their Rivergate lanes just after Christmas. They added on a small room and started compiling the donated memorabilia.

The annual state tournament was set for Natchez this year, so this weekend was perfect for the museum grand opening.

Board members and delegates from around the state got the first view Friday. Approximately 1,000 women bowlers that are a part of 170 teams will participate in the tournament starting this weekend and continuing each weekend until Easter.

Collecting the items specific to women&8217;s bowling was important, Hash said, because the sport has changed. Leagues used to be all women, but now men and youth are just as much a part.

Friday the MWBA voted to take the focus off the women in their name, opting to join with the United States Bowling Congress Association.

Yet, the history remains. The items in the museum span 1960 to present.

&8220;Instead of it being scattered all over in people&8217;s houses, we wanted it to be in a central location,&8221; said board member Margaret Moore of Vicksburg.

The museum is open to the public any time Rivergate is open, Hash said.