Another Spring Pilgrimage winds down

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 9, 2000

Jerry Krouse enjoyed greeting the many tourists who walked through the doors of Cottage Gardens over the past month. But even if Krouse, who said he never took a break from his greeting duties in the eight tour days the house was open, didn’t enjoy every minute of the action, he sees the work almost as a &uot;community service.&uot;

&uot;Whether I really enjoyed it 100 percent, I still feel like it’s a responsibility,&uot; he said. &uot;Tourism is one of the only things Natchez has.&uot;

Krouse, whose house was on tour for the first time in 30 years this year, is looking back at a successful season.

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&uot;I think it’s been pretty successful,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ve had quite a few (visitors). It’s been about what we expected.&uot;

This year’s Pilgrimage seems to have been successful for many houses and merchants, although final numbers aren’t available yet.

The Natchez Visitors Reception Center reported a greater number of visitors this year than last, with 37,819 in March. In March 1999, there were 35,098 visitors recorded, said Connie Taunton, director of visitors services.

Karlyn Ritchey, visitors center supervisor, said she saw more visitors through the center this year than last.

And some of those may be back to stay. &uot;We get a number of inquiries from people wanting to retire here,&uot; she said.

Taunton said she has seen more individual tourists this year than last year. &uot;That’s good for merchants,&uot; she said. &uot;They have a little more time for shopping than tour groups.&uot;

Anna James, manager at Longwood, said visitor numbers were down slightly this year, which she attributed to Longwood’s being on a morning tour.

Longwood returns to its regular daily schedule for tours today.

Merchants had mixed reviews of this year’s Pilgrimage, said Tammi Mullins, director of the Natchez Downtown Development Association.

&uot;I couldn’t find a trend,&uot; Mullins said, adding that some merchants reported strong sales, while others had not seen an increase.

But Mullins hopes the NDDA’s effort to clean up downtown before Pilgrimage will continue – and draw visitors back to town next year.

&uot;What I hope made a difference is the cleanup effort,&uot;&160;she said. &uot;It looks better downtown, and hopefully that impression will bring people back next year.&uot;

Representatives from Natchez Pilgrimage Tours were unavailable for comment.