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Craig is NGC King

Wade Wyatt Craig is the 2011 Natchez Garden Club King.

NATCHEZ — Wade Wyatt Craig has known the ins and outs of the Historic Natchez Tableaux since he was a 3-year-old running around the little maypole.

This year he was asked to represent the Natchez Garden Club as king.

“I gladly accepted the honor,” Craig said.

Craig is following in the footsteps of his dad, Wade Wadley Craig, who was NGC king in 1967.

“Everyone looks up to that person when you’re going through different pageant scenes,” Craig said.

Craig smiles for a portrait at age 3.

In addition to little maypole, Craig’s tableaux participation includes roles in the big maypole, the flag raising and polka scenes. He was also a fisher boy in the show boat scene, ring bearer in the wedding and served in the NGC court.

“I had the most fun in big maypole and polka because at practice you get to hang out with all of your friends,” Craig said. “Everyone in Natchez knows everyone, but when you hang out with them in pageant it creates a bond.”

Wyatt is also the son of the late Elizabeth Rhodes Craig of Natchez. He is the grandson of Dolly Josie Craig of Windemere Plantation, Ferriday, and the late Wadley Craig. His maternal grandparents are Roland Rhodes of Natchez and Elsie Rhodes.

Past NGC kings Trippy Shields and Will Godfrey wore the confederate general’s uniform which has been passed on to Craig for his reign. Craig enhanced the traditional costume for historical accuracy.

Craig added a red stripe down the leg and a red sash to the uniform.

“I started looking at old confederate costumes,” Craig said. “The generals had red on them.”

Craig is a 2005 Trinity Episcopal Day School graduate where he played basketball and ran track.

Craig shows off a buck he killed.

He was a member of Jefferson Street United Methodist Church’s youth group throughout junior high and high school.

He graduated from Mississippi State in 2010 with a degree in business administration and a concentration in marketing.

Craig’s education should come in handy as he is working at the family’s retail business — Sports Center in Natchez.

Craig’s grandfather started the business in 1946 and in 1969 his dad took over.

The business expanded with additional locations around the state.

Craig said he started helping out around the store at the age of 7, cleaning windows and taking inventories.

The business will eventually be turned over to him.

“My dad is ready to relax,” Craig said.

Working in the sporting goods business keeps Craig in proximity to his favorite activities — hunting, fishing and watching sports.

His favorite teams are LSU, Mississippi State and “of course the Saints,” Craig said.

Craig appeared in the big maypole scene with Mattie Smith.

The 24-year-old has season tickets to Mississippi State games, and makes it to a few LSU and Saints games every year.

Craig’s outdoor adventures have taken him across the world. He has been dove hunting in Argentina, fished offshore in Costa Rica, gone fly fishing in Montana, pheasant and prairie dog hunting in South Dakota and deer hunting in Illinois.

“Hunting’s fun,” Craig said. “I don’t want to be cooped up in a house watching TV. That’s boring.”

When he’s not working, Craig likes spending time outdoors with friends. His family has a place on Lake St. John where Craig spends time on the water with his buddies.

“We have a big party on the Fourth of July every year,” Craig said. “We decorate the boat and everyone stays over. We usually cook a hog and have a crawfish boil. I also like to take boats up river and camp out on weekends.”

Craig said as much as he likes to have a good time, he still takes his career seriously and likes the thought of staying in Natchez.

Craig enjoys outdoor activites including offshore fishing near Costa Rica.

“Natchez is a great place to live and raise a family,” Craig said. “I don’t think I’d trade it for anything. There are nay-sayers who want to leave, but then they realize what a great community it is and can’t wait to get back.”

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