Leland was founded a decade after the Civil War, when steamboats navigated what is now the town's main attraction, Deer Creek, to carry bales of cotton and other farm products to market. The town Garden Clubs focused on clearing the banks of the beautiful stream as it winds through Leland, and planted attractive trees, shrubs, and roses to ensure the beauty of this two-mile section of waterway forever. The homes along Deer Creek Drive are showcases of Southern Hospitality, and during the month of December they are lit and decorated with lighted Christmas scenes, which draws visitors from near and far to admire Leland's Christmas on Deer Creek, a celebration which has gone on for half a century and has been named as one of the Top Twenty Christmas Attractions in the South.
Leland's historic downtown is home to the Highway 61 Blues Museum, giving the town a claim to the title "Birthplace of the Blues." The Muppet creator Jim Henson lived in Leland as a boy, and named his most famous puppet "Kermit" after the to-be-Mayor's son, Kermit Scott, a childhood playmate of his. On the southeast corner of Deer Creek Drive where it crosses Highway 82, stands the Jim Henson Delta Boyhood Exhibit. The Mississippi Wildlife Heritage Museum, which opened in 2016, recognizes the many nature-oriented attractions of the Magnolia State.
Leland's nearby suburb, Stoneville, is home to one of the largest agricultural experiment stations in the world. Mississippi State University's Delta Branch Experiment Station and the USDA's Agricultural Research Station employ about 700 people, finding better, cheaper, and more efficient ways for farmers worldwide to raise and harvest crops. La-Z-Boy furniture is made by Knu, LLC, a factory on the north side of Leland, and just across the tracks from that plant is the home of World Class Athletic Surfaces, known worldwide for its sports flooring products.
Festivals abound in and around Leland, with the annual Crawfish Festival to benefit the Highway 61 Blues Museum, FrogFest and December's celebration of Christmas on Deer Creek. Neighboring Greenville also hosts the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival, the Hot Tamale Festival, the all-new Delta Dragon Boat Festival, the Mississippi River Marathon and the Delta Storytelling Festival.
Known throughout the Delta for its many fine eateries, Leland boasts almost a dozen places for visitors and residents to enjoy a meal in good company, often accompanied by music from local musicians. Leland is also home to a great many artists and authors. A great place to visit, or to live!
Leland is Hoppin!
In 2013, our town was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to create the plans for a new community park space on the banks of Deer Creek. The planning work is well underway and fundraising for construction is expected to begin toward the end of 2014.