Hosts, officials prepare for final days of Spring PilgrimagePublished 12:01am Friday, April 5, 2013
NATCHEZ — The success of the last few days of Pilgrimage won’t depend on hoop skirts, azaleas or Southern gentility, though those things don’t hurt.
It’ll all come down to the weather.
In the early weeks of Natchez’s premier spring tourism event, organizers and house owners said attendance was noticeably higher than its has been in recent years. Natchez Pilgrimage Tours Executive Director Marsha Colson said those numbers held up during the second half of the month-long tour of homes.
“It has really kept the pace except around Easter, which is to be expected, because at Easter most people have plans with friends and family.”
Now, with four days left in Pilgrimage — it ends Tuesday — organizers are hoping that those consistently strong numbers hold out for the final weekend.
“Sometimes we find that there is this surge at the last week, and while there is no way to know if it will happen, things have been really busy with group (tours), and we are continuing to have group business come in,” Colson said.
“Really how successful that is going to be at this point depends on the weather. A good bulk of our business — in addition to groups and people who call in advance — is locals who drive in from Jonesville, Baton Rouge, Jackson and Alexandria, and those people usually decide at the last minute or make tentative plans and only go if the weather is good.”
Governor Holmes House Owner Michael Cates said tour numbers at his house could be as much as 40 percent better than they have been in previous years, with many more regional family groups of two or three people coming.
“I’ve spoken with the other homeowners and garden club members, and everybody has been kind of pleasantly surprised at the unexpected volume,” Cates said. “We have had a few people who said they were in town and didn’t know (Pilgrimage) was happening and decided to take a tour, but almost everybody else has said it has been a planned trip, so it has been a good year.”
Although Pilgrimage ends Tuesday, several days of post-Pilgrimage tours in select houses will be available.
Colson said the post-Pilgrimage tours were offered because Pilgrimage was originally scheduled to be longer and people may have made plans to come on those dates.
For more information about Pilgrimage or post-Pilgrimage events, visit natchezpilgrimage.com or call 601-446-6631.